Egyptian Wedding Traditions

egyptian wedding
An Egyptian couple tying the knot following the rituals of their ancient Egyptian ancestors.Photo by Fadel Dawood
Egypt is a fascinating country with so much history; therefore Egyptian weddings are very special in their own way because of the various cultures Egypt has been exposed to. Even though Egyptian weddings are somehow westernized, they still have their Egyptian flavor. When in Egypt make sure you attend an Egyptian wedding, it will be a memorable experience.

And here is a complete list of Egyptian wedding traditions:

Reading al-Fatiha “Erayet al Fatiha”قراية الفاتحة

When the two families finally agree on the marriage terms, Al fatiha, which is the first Surah in the holy Quran, is recited among the closest relatives as a way to bless the marriage. Reading Al Fatiha is considered as the first step before getting engaged. Some people do “ Erayet al Fatiha” and the engagement on the same day.

The engagement”الخُطُوبة”

The engagement period is usually for the couple to get to know each other more and also to prepare for their marriage. Usually, the bride’s family hosts the engagement party at their house or at a function room or even at a hotel decorated for the party. The bride and groom wear engagement rings in their right hands.

The dowry “ El Mahr “المَهْر

The engagement period is usually for the couple to get to know each other more and also to prepare for their marriage. Usually, the bride’s family hosts the engagement party at their house or at a function room or even at a hotel decorated for the party. The bride and groom wear engagement rings in their right hands.

El Shabka “الشبكة”

El Shabka is a set of jewelry given as a gift from the groom to his bride-to-be, usually of gold. Richer families present diamonds. Traditionally, in case of break-up, the bride must return el shabka to the groom.

The henna night”ليلة الحِنّة”

The bride sets a party where she and her female cousins and friends get henna drawings on their hands and celebrate at her house. Some other cultures in Egypt have a bigger henna party for men and women, like in upper Egypt the groom also would have henna (different type) in his hands. The henna night is usually one or two days before the wedding.

Katb el-ketab”كَتْب الكِتاب”

It means in Arabic “writing the book” as a reference to the document that the couple sign to formalize their marriage. Many Muslim families do this at the mosque or at home by inviting the “Ma’zoun المأذون” or the Sheikh who is authorized by the government to do the paper work. On the other hand, Christian families would go to the church and certify their marriage through the priest.

The wedding day ”الفرح”

The wedding is the biggest ceremony among all. It is usually held at a wedding hall, however some religious Muslim families have their weddings at the mosque after doing “Katb al-ketab” the guests congratulate the married couple and afterwards, they head home.

Other Interesting traditions

El Zaffa ”الزفّة”

Egyptians like to celebrate the couple on their way to the wedding hall and on their way out. So, the families and friends would accompany them with their cars turning up the music and honking loudly. Interesting!

The Zaghrouta ”الزّغْروتة”

No wedding is complete without a nice and loud zaghrouta, a sound women make by moving their tongue sideways very quickly as a way of expressing happiness. It’s also common in other Arab countries.

The insanely loud music, “Mahraganat مهرجانات” and the belly dancer

Egyptian weddings are usually really loud. You would be very unfortunate to be seated next to the speakers in an Egyptian wedding. Mahraganat, the Egyptian techno music, is the kind of music that sets the wedding on fire.As for the belly dancer, some Egyptian families hire one to entertain the guests and bring more excitement, while others are more traditional and think it’s inappropriate.

The wedding cake

The big wedding cake that we see beside the bride and groom is actually not served to the guests! Yes, the guests get to eat of course but a different one!

Pinching the bride’s knee

As weird as it sounds, it’s real. It is believed that if a girl pinches the bride’s knee, she will be the next to get married.

The pyramid ring exchange

Both the bride and groom put their hands together in a shape that looks like a pyramid and the spouse would move the ring from the right hand to the left one. This habit is disappearing though.

El ‘Afsh”العَفْش”

As a way to celebrate and show off the bride’s new furniture, some traditional families, especially in Upper Egypt, would take the new furniture in a singing and dancing parade in open cars while transporting it to her husband’s new home.
Finally, every culture has its own customs and traditions that make it different and unique and these were the Egyptian ones.

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