Much has changed in respect to Saudi Arabian weddings. In the past, they were more private, low-key affairs. These days things are different. Saudi Arabian weddings are splendid celebrations. They are flamboyant, glamorous, and over-the-top events.
The wedding industry in Saudi is booming, bringing in millions every year. Luxury and extravagance are what they aim for, with 10-tier cakes, massive feasts, and supercars to transport them from point A to point B.
Despite the evolutions which have taken place with regards to weddings in Saudi, many of their traditional wedding practices still hold strong. These are incorporated into the new style of wedding. The traditions represent the core values of Saudi Arabian culture and are a way in which they uphold the religious and social significance of marriage.
In the past, arranged marriages were common. With arranged marriages came the shawfa ceremony, or the unveiling ceremony. The ritual was held to allow the bride and groom to meet before their wedding.
After the traditional signing of the marriage contract (or the Nikkah) the shabka occurs. This is when the groom presents dowry to his bride, along with a ring and some other jewellery. This is usually hosted by the bride’s family, however, both sides are present and it is often considered a celebratory day.
The bride and groom and their respective families come together on this day to decide on the wedding date, and on other small details. The purpose of this event is to officially announce the dates and to ensure co-ordination between the families.
The ghumra, or henna party, is a fun event for the bride and those closest to her. In the past, this was a small event but nowadays it can be compared to the Western Bachelorette party tradition.
On the night before the wedding, the bride and her female relatives and friends gather together for food, music, and dancing. They decorate the palms of their hands and their feet with henna.
This is the wedding day. It is often celebrated in two different forms.
Before the wedding dinner, all the males have a celebration on their own. There is entertainment, sword dancing, drumming rituals, and more.
When it is time for the reception, the groom’s side and the bride’s side of the family split up. Each side has its own reception. In the local culture, it is dictated that this is the only way guests will be relaxed and have fun.
Eventually, both sides join up – usually at the bride’s party – and they continue the wedding dinner together. This goes on to all hours of the night, and guests are served a feast.
Image: Instagram / jen.cody