Just like in any culture, Emirati weddings have their own unique traditions and customs.
In the UAE, the things that take place during an Emirati wedding might vary from one family to another depending on the culture and background of that family. But in general, all typical Emirati weddings share certain things that you might not have known about.
So here’s a quick guide to 16 things to know about an Emirati wedding (as shared by my Emirati friends):
1. The planning takes more than three months...
But the actual ladies party usually takes an hour where the bride keeps receiving wishes from guests one after the other.
2. All invitation cards share this very important phrase: "no phones, no pictures and no children."
3. As a sign of respect during the ladies party, the guests are not supposed to dance until the elder ladies leave.
4. Recently, almost every Emirati wedding must have a theme, like "Alice in Wonderland" or "Winter Wonderland."
5. Contrary to common believe, not all Emiratis can afford a lavish wedding.
Some Emiratis opt for group weddings as they tend to be more economical. These mass weddings are oftentimes attended by the rulers and the sheikhs of UAE.
6. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, has promoted the "reception style wedding" for men
This is to replace the rather expensive wedding parties and encourage young Emiratis to adopt a less extravagant approach to weddings.
7. There is a government backed initiative that calls for setting "the lowest dowry" between brides and grooms in a bid to ease the burden of marriage and its cost on young couples.
8. It is customary for the Emirati bride to walk "down the aisle" on her own.
9. In old traditions, the father of the bride would not attend his daughter’s wedding and sometimes he would travel outside the country on the day of the ceremony.
10. The idea of wearing a white dress is kind of recent.
Traditionally, the bride would wear either a red or a green dress on the henna night and decorate the look with yellow gold from head to toe.
11. The Henna drawing has changed from Arabic inspired motifs done exclusively on the palms of the hands, into Indian and Moroccan inspired drawings done all over the hands and feet.
12. There is a pre-wedding celebration where harees and khabees (traditional dishes) are distributed amongst relatives and friends.
13. The "Katb El-Kitab" in the Emirati dialect is called "Malcha" or "Malkah."
14. Presenting gifts to the bride on the wedding night is uncommon...
Some might feel offended if you do such thing… The ultimate gift is your presence!
15. It is nearly impossible to make a small wedding with less than 200 guests...
Because it is considered "ayb" not to invite almost everyone in the neighborhood.