Henna avaArab weddings are always fancy, expensive, and cheerful. Huge celebrations with hundreds of wedding guests and spectacular activities. But also, most Arab countries value their wedding traditions highly and incorporate centuries-old customs in their modern weddings. That’s why we can still see traditional Arab dances, like stick dance or sword dance, traditional wedding outfits, henna-painted bride’s hands and feet, cake cutting ritual using a sword, and many other Arab wedding traditions that have been in use for several generations of people. Let’s take a closer look at these wedding rituals and traditions.


Strict dress code

Arab weddings are formal events, usually very fancy and costly. And the dress code is rather strict because these are Islamic countries we’re talking about. So, practically everyone is dressed in traditional Arab garments – abaya and hijab for women and dishdasha / thawb for men. Even if the wedding guests don’t use traditional outfits, they should wear something appropriate and modest, with no low necklines, bare backs or legs, short hems, etc.


Wedding stick dance and belly dance

In Egypt, the UAE, Oman, and other Arab countries, men perform a ritual stick dance at weddings. It’s an old tradition to entertain the wedding guests with a folk dance accompanied by folk music. The traditional stick dance originates from a Bedouin war dance with weapons, but men use wooden sticks or canes as folk accessories. This dance is still often performed today at Arab weddings.

As men and women are often separated at Arab weddings – sometimes, they even have two separate receptions – Arab women have their own traditional wedding dance. And, of course, it is the belly dance. It is often performed before an all-women auditory, but not always.


Ardah – Arabian sword dance

That’s a very impressive and spectacular wedding activity. Arab men perform a traditional dance with swords, and it all looks wow! This dance is old and significant for the Arab culture. Men are dressed in festive traditional clothing and carry swords or sabers. They stand in two rows opposite of one another and dance. The ardah is performed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Arab countries.


Mahr – groom’s gift for bride

During the wedding ceremony or right after it, Arab grooms present their brides with a special gift called a “mahr”. This is some costly possession the bride can use in case of divorce or her husband’s death. It can be expensive jewelry, money, gold, fine furniture, real estate, and so on. Often, families discuss it before the wedding and mention in a marriage contract. The mahr belongs entirely to the bride and she can do with it whatever she wants, the groom can’t take it back. Sometimes, part of the mahr is paid at the wedding and another part later, after the marriage is consummated and official.


Zaffa – showy wedding march

This tradition is typical for Lebanon, Egypt, and some other Arab countries. The bride and groom officially meet at the wedding hall before the ceremony, and not just humbly say hello and hug. This is a cheerful performance, with drums and bagpipes, dancing, and signing. The bride’s father accompanies her to meet her husband-to-be. Basically, two noisy processions join and start celebrating.


Cake cutting with sword

Arab men love their cold weapon. Some countries even have folk dress knives – knives, daggers, sabers, etc traditionally worn with the national attire. And as we’ve already mentioned earlier, they perform sword dances at weddings. But the local men brought their love for weapons to the next level by using sabers and swords to cut the wedding cake. Of course, cakes are often huge at Arab weddings because these occasions are big, with hundreds of guests. So, you need something corresponding to cut a 6-10-tiered wedding cake.


Celebratory gunfire

This is a way for Arab men to show their excitement – they shoot into the air from handguns and rifles. Such celebratory gunfire is a rather old tradition, it’s performed at large celebrations, when a baby is born, and, sure, at weddings. Although, firearms shooting is not always safe for people and property, this tradition remains popular in many Arab countries.


Henna night

This is the most popular bridal tradition in the Arab world and Indian subcontinent. Brides have large parties before the wedding, they invite their female friends and relatives, sing, dance, eat, prepare for the big day, and have their hands and feet painted with traditional henna ornamentation. It’s an Arab bachelorette celebration.

 

Most distinctive and cute Arab wedding traditions

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