Oriental Wedding Traditions

Lebanese and Moroccan Weddings

 

A wedding is always a big deal! No matter where, no matter when, people will go far and beyond to get the perfect wedding. There are all kinds of weddings, but my personal favorites are the ones that take a little inspiration from different cultures’ traditions, making the wedding even more special.

There are the occidental traditions, the most known ones, which we can see in many movies and read about in many books. And then there are the oriental ones, different and beautiful, that make you want to travel. In the oriental world, every region has its own traditions, quite differently from the occidental world where we share the ancestors and so, we share many traditions. However, there are some traditions that have travelled far and fast and are shared by so many different cultures.

Having travelled many times to Lebanon, I will tell you all about that country’s traditions, and about how beautiful Lebanese weddings can be. I will also share some of my favorite Moroccan traditions, which I believe to be beautiful and could bring a really special touch to your European wedding dream.

First, let us travel to Lebanon:

Lebanon is a very small but very beautiful country, where so many cultures and religions live side by side. Here, religion is a very important matter, and all weddings revolve around it. Actually, you don’t have a choice, seeing that non-religious weddings are forbidden and so, inexistent. However, you can choose what kind of religious wedding you want: Sunnite, Orthodox, Maronite, Shiits, Catholic… you can pick whichever you like most, we got them all.

 

Of course, if there are so many religions, there are even more traditions. However, it’s still one country, one nation, and that means there are traditions shared by everyone.

 

First things first, family is very important, so the family’s approval is necessary. Originally, the man would ask his future father in law for his daughter’s hand. Today, even if he does propose to his beloved one and she says yes, he should go speak to her father and be sure he approves.

 

If everything goes as planned, they can start organizing the engagement party. Back in the days, it was “Laylat al nkout”, which means the night of gifts. This was done by the families to collect some money and be able to pay for the wedding. Today, sadly, things have changed and there are no more engagement gifts, only wedding ones. However, they still invite the whole family and some friends to celebrate the engagement before any kind of wedding planning can take place.

 

While so many traditions have died or are today only celebrated in small villages, there are some that are a part of almost every wedding and they’re what makes the wedding so special.

 

Just like in many cultures, the bride and the groom are not supposed to see each other before the wedding. They will both celebrate their last night with their respective friends, not seeing each other until the bride walks down the aisle. On the morning of the wedding, and here comes the good part, making this tradition by far my favorite one, the bride will wake up to a house full of white flowers. That’s right! The groom will send thousands of flowers to decorate his future’s wife’s house, the entrance and her car, so that when her close friends and family members come to help her get ready and enjoy the morning, everything looks beautiful and she can really start the day in a romantic ambiance. The women will help the bride get dressed, do her makeup and her hair while singing and dancing.

Once she’s ready, a car convoy will follow the brides’ car, and another will follow the grooms’ car, honking all the way to where the ceremony will take place. The convoy needs to be as loud as it can, so that everyone will know that there’s going to be a wedding celebration and usually, other cars that have nothing to do with the convoy will start honking too, as a way to congratulate the future married couple. Originally, the families would go to the brides’ and the grooms’ places and carry them while making as much noise as they could. This was thought to scare the evil spirits and demons away. Today, it’s just a really fun way to celebrate!

 

When they arrive, woman all around will do the traditional “Zalghouta”, which is the act of ululating, a very common way to express joy, happiness, and to celebrate the bride and the groom! Back in the days, they would sometimes pay women to do this so the “Zalghouta” was louder and lasted longer. Today, even if not everyone knows exactly how to do it, all the guests will join the “Zalghouta” and chant some compliments to the bride and groom.

 

Once the ceremony in over, rice will be thrown at the happy couple while the “Zalghouta” starts again! All the guests will follow the newlyweds to the car they now share and a new convoy will take place, following them to start what everyone was waiting for: the Party!

 

Lebanese people are known for their parties, and no one parties like Lebanese newlyweds! The venues are grandiose, the guest list is kilometric, the buffet is never ending, and the fun is everywhere. Honestly, if there is anything you want to take from the Lebanese traditions to your French wedding, it’s the way they party!

 

Modern Lebanese weddings will not look too different from European weddings from the outside, but once you’re part of it, you will definitely understand. The music is louder, and the dancing never stops. The couple will make a big entry under the “Zaffee”, everyone applauding and drums drumming. They will of course dance the “Dabkeh”, which is the Lebanese traditional dance where everyone participates. In a few seconds, you will see all the guests holding hands and dancing to the “Derbakkeh” (typical Lebanese instrument). Then, of course, they will pick the couple up on their shoulders and they will make them dance while carrying them. After a bit, when hunger strikes, they will open the buffet where every dish you could possibly dream of will be present. Usually, there will be a table with all the Lebanese typical dishes, and then we move to the international part of the buffet where you can find all these French, Spanish and Italian dishes. Once everyone’s completely full, the dancing starts again and doesn’t stop until the morning!

 

For some reason, Lebanese people love France (maybe because we once were under their mandate), so no one is surprised if one of these grandiose weddings happen in Paris. Besides, one of the things Lebanese people are known for is bragging, so if they got the chance to do one of these weddings in a beautiful French castle, they will not turn their back on that opportunity. It’s not hard to make a Lebanese wedding in Paris, whether you are Lebanese or you just want to get inspired by some of these wedding traditions. One thing is sure, the wedding will be unforgettable!

Now let’s visit Morocco:

 

Different country, different traditions.  Morocco is very deep rooted in its culture and traditions, and we can really see that through their weddings.

 

We can see some similarities with some Lebanese traditions, like, for example, the husband has to go through the fathers’ approval to consider his engagement valid. Once he gets the approval, both families will sit together and talk about all the details. Traditionally, the man would ask his future father in law for his blessing before proposing to his beloved one, especially because most of the times, they wouldn’t even know each other. It was a family choice, not a heart’s decision. Today, this still happens sometimes but mostly, it’s almost all about love!

 

After the proposal, the festivities can begin! First, there’s the “Drib Sdak” ceremony, which represents the couple’s first union in front of the “Aadoul”. They will sign a marriage certificate in front of the witnesses, which are usually the parents and maybe one or two friends, before going to celebrate with music and a feast that’s usually organized at the bride’s place.

 

Then, the bride and her close friends, along with some members of her family, will go to the “Hammam” a few days before the actual wedding, where originally she would take a milk bath as a symbol of the bride’s purity and loyalty, but today this is slowly fading away. She does however take a beauty day with everything included: massage, body scrubs, waxing, etc. She needs to look perfect for her wedding night. The groom will sometimes go to the Hammam too, with his close friends, but it’s not a tradition.  If you want to recreate this ritual before your French wedding, or should I say, your Moroccan wedding in France (I know I will!), there are plenty of Hammams around Paris and every big city.

 

The night before the wedding, instead of a typical bachelorette, the women will do the “Henna” ceremony. The bride will be dressed up in a green caftan, the same color of the henna before it’s applied on the skin, and she will get her hands and feet tattooed. The drawings on her skin are symbols of protection for her and her marriage. All around her, women will sing and dance, and once the ceremony is over, they will all eat together.

Finally, the actual wedding takes place, and usually, it doesn’t start before 9 pm, if not later. Much like in the Lebanese wedding, the newlyweds will make a big entrance while everyone applauds them and of course, they will be welcomed by the “Zalghouta”. And this entrance is not something you will see anywhere. The bride, and sometimes the groom too, will be carried by some people in what they call an “Amariia”, which is a kind of a throne. And to welcome the bride, the groom will have disposed many gifts wrapped in “Hdiyyas” around the room that she’ll open in front of everyone. Usually, these Hdiyyas contain Henna and sugar, but they can also hide some beautiful jewelry.

 

Through the wedding night, the bride will wear up to 7 dresses, each representing different regions of the country. Everyone dances and congratulates the newlyweds, pictures are taken and of course, they eat! Fish, seafood pastillas, chicken and lamb tagines, many sweet cakes and deserts… they don’t go half way. I guess the food is important in all oriental cultures! And Moroccans also know how to party! Traditionally, a Moroccan wedding would last up to seven days!! Even if today it’s rarely still done, the festivities will go on for about three days. French Weddings could really get inspired out of that, couldn’t they? After all, more parties, more fun, and that means more happiness for the new marriage!

 

Well, here are some very beautiful traditions these two oriental countries have, and of course there are more. However, other oriental countries have very different wedding traditions that have lived on through generations and that I hope won’t disappear anytime soon. Stay updated for an article on Asian traditions! They could give you some very beautiful ideas for your traditional-non-traditional wedding!

Wedding Traditions Worldwide

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