Did you know that the Egyptians were the ones who developed toothpaste, breath mints and eye makeup? We still utilize numerous antique inventions today. However, Egyptian customs and rituals are even more intriguing than their innovations in cosmetics.
Many people are familiar with Egyptian funeral customs and the magnificent pyramids they built for their pharaohs. But how familiar are you with Egyptian weddings custom?
Egyptian weddings & customs from the past and the present are both lovely, heartfelt and incredibly intriguing. It’s good to understand their customs if you’re preparing for your own wedding so you may draw some ideas for your own ceremony.
Continue reading to find out more about Egyptian wedding traditions!
Egyptian Pre-Wedding Traditions
Egyptian marriages have always been planned and accompanied by specific financial arrangements to balance the power between the two families. Even while most modern Egyptian marriages are focused on love, some financial customs persist.
In accordance with current Egyptian wedding custom, the groom pays for both the mahr, which is a dowry given to the bride’s family, and the shabka, a gold present to the bride. A marriage contract will be written after the gifts have been delivered and both parties will read it together with the first chapter of the Qur’an.
The pair is regarded as engaged after everyone is in agreement. The engagement celebration will thereafter be funded by the bride’s family. A feast, entertainment and decorations are often present at the celebration.
The celebration may occasionally have a theme. The pair will start wearing their rings on their right hands after the engagement celebration and look for a home to live in. They can choose a wedding date once they’ve chosen a home.
Henna night, which is comparable to a bachelorette party, is held after the engagement celebration. The bride, her female family members and friends throw a themed party that evening. The bride has exquisite henna designs applied to her hands and feet in addition to singing and dancing.
The Engagement Party
In Egypt, the engagement party is a joyous occasion that marks the formal announcement of the upcoming wedding. Engagement parties are traditionally hosted by the groom’s family and take place at the bride’s home. The party often includes an exchange of gifts, such as rings and may be followed by a dinner.
At the engagement party, guests offer their best wishes to the bride and groom, who then symbolically pledge their commitment to each other. Traditional music and dance are also part of the engagement celebration. Family members often perform traditional songs and dances to express their happiness for the couple.
The highlight of the engagement party is when the groom hands over a gift to the bride. It usually consists of gold jewelry or other luxury items, such as perfume or clothing. This is seen as a sign of the groom’s commitment to providing for the bride throughout their marriage.
Once the engagement is formally announced and accepted, it is celebrated with a cake-cutting ceremony. It symbolizes the unity between the couple and is accompanied by more singing and dancing from family members. The cake is typically shared among all guests to mark the occasion.
At the end of the engagement party, the bride and groom are officially recognized as betrothed and ready to move forward with their wedding plans. The excitement of the engagement is usually followed by preparations for the upcoming wedding day.
Henna Event (Aka Bachelorette Party)
As is customary in many Arab nations, the bride-to-be’s female friends and family members host a henna celebration a day or two before the wedding. The bride is taken to the bathhouse under a canopy while donning a scarlet shawl and a hat or crown on her head. There, the bride’s hands and feet get henna tattooed by family and friends.
You will also like these other wedding traditions from other cultures:
The Egyptian Wedding Ceremony
The actual wedding typically takes place on a Thursday since, for Muslims, this is the conclusion of the workweek. The mahr is given to the bride. She is free to use the money in any way she wants, although often, it will be used to purchase the house and furniture.
The wedding itself is more of a party because the Katb El Ketab serves as a formal ceremony. Everyone will rejoice and feast while the newlyweds perform a dance. The bride will traditionally toss her bouquet to the female guests.
At this stage, gifts are also presented. Money, jewelry and other trinkets for the new home are common wedding gifts in Egypt.
Guests throw rice and other grains at the newlyweds as they depart the venue to wish them success and prosperity. Grains are considered a sign of fertility in Egyptian culture.
In Egypt, the wedding ceremony is the most important part of the celebration and typically involves a large gathering of family and friends. The wedding ceremony usually begins with an invocation or prayer, followed by the couple exchanging their vows in front of the assembled guests.
The bride and groom will then exchange rings as a symbol of their commitment to one another and the officiant may give a sermon or a blessing to mark the start of the marriage. After this, the couple will perform a symbolic washing of their hands, which signifies the cleansing of any difficulties that may arise in their marriage.
Following this, the officiant will often call upon a close friend or family member to give a speech, which can be filled with humor, advice or stories about the couple. Then, the bride and groom will be invited to share a cup of tea together, signifying the sealing of their union.
At the end of the ceremony, the couple will break a plate as a symbol of luck in their marriage. This is then followed by a short period of celebration for the newlyweds and their guests.
Climate and Weather
Egypt is known for its hot, dry climate. Winters are often milder and warmer, but summers may be scorching hot. In the desert, it may get rather chilly at night. To escape the heat, the ideal period to be married is outside of June to August. A nice time period is from March to May as well as from September to December. The location is ideal for a winter wedding. Ramadan must be avoided since people fast during the day, and planning activities during the day might occasionally be difficult.
Food and Beverages
Egypt makes a great wedding location if you’re a vegetarian because the food is primarily vegetarian and beautifully spiced. Just two of the meals that are popular here are koshari and ful medames. Fish is frequently offered in coastal areas, such as Alexandria.
For those who want meat, shawarma, which is pita bread pockets stuffed with shredded beef, lamb or chicken, is also excellent.
Wedding Attire in the Egyptian Tradition
Egyptian bridal attire is often made of colorful edor braided with stones and diamonds. The groom typically dons a distinctive robe or a traditional tribal dress. The veil brings the whole thing together.
Christian couples and urban weddings are a little more contemporary, and the bride and groom typically don tuxedos and white gowns.
Modesty is crucial because Egypt is largely a Muslim nation. Women should dress in a long, loose-fitting skirt that is at least knee-length. Wedding guests must adhere to a dress code as well.
You might also opt to wear comfortable cotton trousers. Make sure the shirt you’re wearing covers your tummy, shoulders and chest.
Male visitors may dress in pants and either a polo or a button-up. Depending on the formality of the wedding, a sports coat is also acceptable. For both sexes, shorts are deemed unacceptable.
Where to Have Your Egyptian Wedding
The family home, the neighborhood mosque or a marriage venue will be used for the traditional Egyptian wedding ceremony. The bride and groom’s family will sign the marriage license at the ceremony, which is presided over by a Maa’zoun.
The bride would often dress in a jewel-toned gown with a veil on the wedding day, while the husband would don a ceremonial tribal outfit, according to Egyptian wedding traditions. According to local customs, women are welcome to pinch the bride for luck.
The bride’s father joins the bride and groom’s hands at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony and covers them with a white cloth. The Maa’zoun’s remarks are then repeated by the couple.
You may pick from some of the most moving and distinctive locations in the world if you get married in Egypt. The nation beautifully mixes culture and romance with thousands of years of legacy and tradition, using the Nile River or another well-known area as a background.
Choose between a low-key ceremony outside beneath the stars or an elegant tent covered in luxurious silks. Another justification for picking Egypt as the location of your wedding is that the sun is nearly always guaranteed. Following the wedding, honeymooners should consider traveling to Egypt. Select from ancient site culture, Nile cruises or scuba diving.
Egyptian wedding customs and traditions
You can appreciate the significance of family, faith and tradition throughout the ceremony now that you are more knowledgeable about Egyptian wedding customs. Every part of the ceremony is essential to a lovely wedding and a happy marriage.
It might be stressful to organize your own wedding. There are so many customs, viewpoints, choices and deadlines that all arrive at once.
Etiquette and Culture
As in the majority of Islamic nations, modest clothing is expected, especially for women. Although the beaches of the Red Sea Resort are less formal, wearing shorts and swimsuits near a pool is considered impolite. In Islamic civilizations, using the left hand is considered disrespectful.
Egyptians are quite celebratory when it comes to weddings. You may anticipate lavish pre-wedding celebrations and detailed henna tattoos on the bride’s hands. Another customary indulgence is a hammam before the wedding.
The wedding rituals in Coptic cultures vary slightly. For starters, according to local tradition, the bride and groom must be completely hair-free before the wedding ceremony. The average length of a Coptic wedding ceremony is 45 minutes. Scripture readings are typically part of the ceremony, and the bride and groom typically don crowns and distinctive capes with decorations from the fourth century. For spiritual protection, the priest anoints their foreheads with holy oil.
Around 10 o’clock after the ceremony, the wedding procession, or zaffa, goes to the reception, which frequently takes place at a nearby hotel. The groom waits for the bride and her father when they arrive at the kosha, also known as the wedding reception. When the bride arrives, the husband takes off her veil and gives her a cheek or forehead kiss.
Traditionally, guests partake in sharpat, a rosewater beverage made from different fruits and herbs, to commemorate the wedding ceremony. The newlyweds greet their guests at the reception and snap pictures while belly dancers and singers perform for them. At some point in the evening, guests will take part in the candelabra dance, and the bride and groom will cut the cake and serve each other.
The newlyweds will depart for the groom’s residence after the reception, which often ends in the wee hours of the following morning. Egyptian wedding customs in the countryside include a vibrant parade in which the bride frequently rides a camel while being followed by her wedding party. Along the way, they will sing and dance.
The ladies frequently demonstrate their happiness by making the distinctive sound of zaghareet or ululation, which is produced by shifting her tongue from side to side. Egyptian wedding customs, whether Islamic or Coptic Christian, honor Egypt’s history and vibrancy.
“Ketb El Ketab”
In Egypt, the Katb El Ketab — the first stage of an Islamic wedding ceremony — takes place within a mosque. It might happen a few days before the wedding or on the same day. The marriage contract that was created during the engagement stage will be signed once the couple exchanged vows.
A Muslim priest serves as a witness to the Katb El Ketab and will register the marriage with the government. After the contract is signed, the bride’s and the groom’s fathers join hands and recite the Qur’an’s first verse. The feast is then shared by everybody.
Egyptian Weddings Reception
The wedding reception is one of the most important parts of an Egyptian wedding. It’s a time when family and friends come together to celebrate the union of two people in marriage. During the reception, there are many traditions that take place, including the cutting of the cake, dancing and the sharing of food and drinks.
At the start of the reception, the bride and groom will cut a traditional cake. This is often done in front of the guests and can involve special decorations, such as candles and flowers. The cake may also be decorated with symbols of the couple’s love and commitment to one another.
Music is an important part of the reception, and there are typically both Egyptian and international songs played for guests to enjoy. Guests are encouraged to join in with the dancing and singing. It is traditional for a DJ or band to play music during the reception so that everyone can have fun.
There is usually plenty of food served at a wedding reception in Egypt. Traditional dishes include kofta (minced meat), ful medames (fava beans), tahini (sesame paste), hummus (chickpeas), stuffed vine leaves, falafel and foul (beans). Many of these dishes are accompanied by rice or bread. There may also be desserts, such as baklava (a sweet pastry), kunafa (a pastry with cheese and syrup) and umm ali (custard with nuts).
Drinks are also served throughout the reception. Typically, there will be both non-alcoholic beverages like tea and coffee, as well as alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine. After the food has been served, it’s customary for the guests to toast the bride and groom with drinks.
The wedding reception is an important part of an Egyptian wedding. It’s a time for family and friends to come together to celebrate the union of two people in marriage. Many traditions take place during the reception, from cutting the cake to dancing and drinking. By incorporating all of these elements, you’re sure to make your wedding reception a memorable event!
After the Wedding Ceremony
Following a customary Egyptian wedding ceremony, the newlyweds head straight to the home of the groom. They might take a camel ride across the countryside to get there. But in metropolitan areas, they’ll just use their cars.
The pair moves forward as the crowd cheers and dances, creating a parade of joy. The bride’s father presents the bride to the husband and takes off her veil at the groom’s residence. After the groom kisses the bride, the procession will continue.
With traditional music and belly dancers, this procession may last up to an hour. The visitors will also sip on a delicious rosewater beverage called herpat.
The bride’s mother will prepare all of the meals for the newlyweds for a week following the wedding.
Tradition of Egyptian Wedding Rings
When they become engaged, the pair dons their engagement rings for the first time, but they do so on their right hands.
The newlyweds will switch their wedding bands from their right hands to their left hands after the ceremony.
One of the wedding customs from the time of the ancient Egyptians was the usage of rings as a symbol of marriage. The ring was seen by the ancient Egyptians as a representation of faithfulness, dedication and joy.
We hope this guide has shed some light on Egyptian wedding traditions. Whether you are preparing to attend an Egyptian wedding or have your own, you are sure to be more prepared now!
What is the Zafa in an Egyptian wedding?
This is the procession that arrives right before the bride to mark the beginning of the ceremony. It usually consists of male drummers and female belly dancers who dance in the wedding hall and ululate in celebration of the occasion. They are then followed by the arrival of the bride and her father who walks the bride to her groom and hands her over.
Can you have a solo proposal in Egyptian culture?
As a Westerner, it can be difficult imagining not having your partner propose to you in a romantic setting. While this wasn’t a norm in ancient Egyptian culture, modern couples can have a private proposal to share a romantic moment alone and then follow this up with a proposal to the family. Regardless of whether you are following norms or adding a spin to your proposal, the man must seek the approval of the lady’s father before proposing.
Can you wear a short at an Egyptian wedding?
It’s outrageous that you would consider wearing a short to a wedding however, we’ll allow this line of thought simply because the location can get very hot. But still, the answer is no. Egyptian culture is very modest and shorts are considered undergarments. Formal attire must still be maintained at the wedding however if you’re worried about sweating a lot, pick a breathable suit and a cotton dress shirt to wear. We’re sure no one will mind you losing the blazer once if it’s hot.
Why do Egyptian couples switch rings as part of the wedding ceremony?
In Western cultures, it is typical for the gentleman to propose with a diamond engagement ring and then follow this up with a wedding band at the wedding ceremony. This is not the case with Egyptian couples as they keep their bands simple and wearing the ring on the right ring finger signifies engagement. At the ceremony, the ring is moved to the left ring finger where the wedding band should rest.
How much do Egyptian wedding ceremonies cost?
Egyptian weddings can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000. This is an average range and the costs can change based on the financial positions of the families involved. While this may seem like a huge amount, which it is, these ceremonies can span days with numerous pre-wedding ceremonies which may explain the high costs once they are tallied together. The absence of an expensive diamond ring can also leave a good amount to spend on the wedding celebration.
Do the bride and groom move into the house before their wedding day?
We mentioned above that the wedding preparations can only begin once the couple has acquired a house together and the groom has prepared the home for his future wife. The two however do not move in together until after the marriage. As Egyptians are mostly of the Islam religion, a lot of emphasis is placed on maintaining purity before marriage. In more traditional settings, the couple may be prohibited from being alone in private quarters.
Serena & Dominic are a married couple and parents to 3 wonderful children. They plan weddings, run multiple small businesses, and curate wedding events.
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