For people across the world, a wedding is a time of joy, celebration and unity – and for followers of Islam, this isn’t any different. While there are obviously some differences between a Muslim wedding and other religious or non-religious ceremonies, culture and personal preference still play a pivotal role in what happens on the big day (or days).
Be it a three-day Indian wedding or a traditional Western format, there are certain elements of Muslim weddings that are consistent across the world. This step by step guide by modern muslim fashion brand AbayaButh, shares tips for planning your traditional Muslim wedding – from the ceremony to special customs and outfits!
When it comes to planning a wedding date, many Muslims favour the Islamic month of Shawwal, but this isn’t essential. Most times of year are suitable, though you should avoid the sacred months of Ramadan and Muharram. This means you’re free to organise your wedding for your favourite time of year – whether that be a blissful summer wedding or a cosy winter affair.
Arrange The Wedding Venue
In Islam, it’s not compulsory to marry in a mosque, which means you’ll have scope to pick a venue of your own choice. Whether you’d like an intimate setting with just your closest family by your side, or a larger venue to accommodate a wider circle of friends, the decision is yours as to where you want the ceremony and celebrations to take place. After the ceremony itself there will be a walimah, which is usually a meal where guests can celebrate the occasion – though this can be anything from large-scale festivities to a pared-back and quiet gathering.
When it comes to the walimah, you should think about the food you would like served. In many cultures, it’s members of the family who provide the food and drink on the day – and what you serve is entirely personal preference. Local fare is often provided at modern Muslim weddings, and usually includes sheep, goat or alternative meats such as chicken or fish. Again, specifics vary depending on region.
Agree On A Mahar
As one of the most important days in the life of a Muslim, there can be a lot of pressure to pull off the perfect wedding. Again, personal preference will be your guide throughout the wedding planning process, but you should consider the key elements that make up the ceremony. One of the first things to think about once a date has been set is the mahar, a pre-agreed dowry payment from the groom to the bride. Agreeing on a suitable mahar is something usually discussed privately between the bride’s and groom’s families, and can be anything within the groom’s financial means. From a lavish piece of jewellery to an item of clothing or a simple payment of money, making this decision well ahead of time will ensure the groom has plenty of time to prepare before the big day.
A common tradition amongst Muslim brides to be in the Middle East and South Asia is to have a henna party a few days before the ceremony, where delicate, artful patterns are drawn on the hands and feet of the bride. Make the most of this ceremony by giving gifts to the bride and eating lovely food – this party is a perfect opportunity for female bonding before the big day! It’s also common to have a similar ceremony for the groom, so find yourself a skilled henna artist and you’re well on your way to a perfect pre-wedding celebration.
It’s not just the bride and groom that will celebrate before the wedding. A common ceremony in Islamic cultures is the fatha, in which the fathers of the bride and groom, along with male family and friends, stretch out their arms and recite prayers at the local mosque the Friday after the proposal. Make sure to make time for these important ceremonies before your wedding for a flawless Islamic ceremony.
The Wedding Dress
The aesthetic of your Muslim wedding can be anything you like, as long as it’s modest. Some Wedding dresses are intricately patterned with embroidery and jewels sewn in to really make the ceremony as opulent as possible, but others opt for a more simple, one-colour design. As Islam is an incredibly diverse religion, no two Islamic cultures are the same. If your wedding is cross-cultural, then even better, as the best and most beautiful aspects from your respective cultures can be combined to make a ceremony that is a perfect blend of the bride and groom’s personalities.
Next, you’ll need to think about the ceremony, or nikah, itself. The nikah can be as simple as you like, requiring only two male witnesses and a Muslim knowledgeable in Islamic law – which is usually an imam or Qazi. Separated in two different rooms or areas of the hall, you and your partner will be presented with the nikah namah – the marriage contract – which will be signed after being read aloud to those present. The officiator will then solemnise the marriage by reading a sermon, which is most often the first chapter of the Quran.
A Muslim wedding bears many similarities to weddings in other religions – they’re a time to celebrate love, faith and unity. Whether you’re a bride-to-be in India, England, Malaysia or Egypt, your wedding day will be one of the most important of your life – so put in preparation well ahead of time to pull off the wedding of your dreams.