Have you ever wondered what the Emirati weddings of Dubai or Abu Dhabi are like? Well, I have all the details after attending one myself! Here are some of the things that you might not know about this type of celebration.
1. It Can Be Cheaper Than I Thought For The Guests And The Couple
You might associate the idea of an Emirati wedding with wealth and luxury. I think it’s probably true that a lot of Emirati weddings are lavish occasions. However, it’s not always the case because not every Emirati couple is rich. So they do look for ways to save and one of the possibilities is to have joint wedding events. This is a shared wedding with multiple couples. The mass weddings may actually be attended by the Sheikhs and rulers. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE has promoted this idea. It’s intended to help couples save and it’s not the only saving option. There is also a backed government initiative that aims to ensure the lowest dowry between grooms and brides. How will you save as a guest? Well, I was pleasantly surprised to find that you don’t give a gift to the bride. In fact, doing so might actually be considered insulting. Don’t get too excited though because you will want to throw banknotes at them for good luck.
2. It’s A Big, Grand Event
I was amazed at how many people attended at first. Then I quickly learned it’s deemed rude not to invite everyone in your neighborhood. So it’s not uncommon for there to be more than 200 guests. That could explain why a lot of couples do favor the option of a shared wedding with other couples.
3. It Takes A While To Plan
How long did you spend planning your wedding? Planning times for weddings can range anything between a couple of months to a couple of years. It largely depends on the size of the wedding that you want. I can tell you after speaking to the couple it takes over three months to plan an Emirati wedding. That’s not surprising when you think about all the individual details. Interestingly the ladies’ party is only about an hour. During this time, the bride sits while all the women provide her wonderful wishes for her future.
4. There Are Things You Need To Do To Show Respect
There are a few ways to show respect at this wedding. I think it’s important to note that there are two separate parties, one for the men and one for the women. No men are allowed at the women’s party at all. This includes all members of staff and the DJ. Even little boys are not allowed to attend the women’s party. You also shouldn’t dance at the women’s party until the older women have left the area. It’s interesting to me that a lot of the women remained covered too. This was despite the fact that there were absolutely no men around.
5. Don’t Be Late
I was a little confused about when the wedding ceremony was going to start. Weddings used to take place in the afternoon, however, this has changed recently. Instead, they now typically take place through the evening. Weddings can last a good few hours so it’s not uncommon for them to finish quite late. Don’t forget, the wedding won’t begin until all the guests have arrived. So, it’s important to make sure that you aren’t late.
6. No Photos Please
I was a little surprised to find that women don’t want to be photographed at Emirati weddings. It’s not uncommon for you to be specifically asked not to take photos. I was a couple of times and that means that there are no photos when guests are arriving. You also don’t take photos during the dance or the reaction when the bride enters. It certainly makes things easier for the photographer. Indeed, their role is quite limited and they will only take photos at key moments.
7. Styles Are Incredible
If you attend an Emirati wedding, it’s possible the bride will be wearing a white dress. It’s worth noting this is quite a new concept. Originally brides would wear green or red on the henna night. This is then decorated in gold adding an extra level of glamour and I honestly love it. While the bride looks like a princess, the groom is dressed in every day. Typically, he will have a white kandura as well as sandals. Guests can dress up and typically will with fancy branded clothes.
8. The Ceremony Is Different
Finally, I was quite fascinated by how different the ceremony was from a traditional Western ceremony. For instance, at an Emirati wedding, the bride will typically walk down the aisle by herself. Once everyone has arrived, she appears and walks very slowly. She’ll eventually reach her place, which is usually a sofa on a stage. The stage is gorgeously decorated. She sits there and guests say hello or take a picture. It’s a rare chance where you can actually take photographs. Being a wedding photographer myself, I was so excited to take some photos for my personal reference from this unique exercise.
Wedding photography expert Jeffrey Wang has his own wedding photography studio in Sydney Perfect Moment Photography. He helped hundreds of couples to capture their love stories and the raw emotions and spirit behinds the weddings. In his free time, he writes about love stories, venues and photography tips for known wedding blogs around the globe.