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Egyptian Wedding Traditions

Shared by Helen Schrader
Category Weddings Around the World
Tags Uae Dubai Hs Celebrants egyptian egyptian wedding and coptic traditions Helen Schrader Ceremony Celebration Of Marriage Wedding Couple Vows Husband Wife Love

Egyptian Wedding Traditions

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Photo credit: Ego Production

Like their Arab and North African neighbours, the Egyptians share many similar wedding customs, which are also dictated by their individual religious beliefs. It has been claimed the symbolism of the wedding ring, as a perfect circle, is said to date back to Ancient Egypt. Wedding rings represent a union as being ‘without beginning, without end’. Today in contemporary weddings around the world, wedding rings are exchanged as a visible symbol of that eternal promise.

Once a match is made and agreed upon by the couple’s families, the man proposes formally. A Muslim couple would have a small intimate ceremony usually with only the family present; on that day the bride sits on one side next to the father and the groom is seated on the other. The groom puts his hand on the bride’s father’s hand and they read the ‘Fatha,’ which is the first Surah in the Qur’an.

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Photo credit: Ego Production

The engagement period gives the couple time to get to know each other. The bride’s family will host the engagement party held at home or more often at a hotel. It could be a lavish celebration or a very intimate in size. Egyptians tend to be creative so one can expect to see a belly dancer, DJ and other entertainment. On this day the groom presents the bride with the ‘shabka,’ a gold or diamond gift. The more wow the gift the richer the guy!

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Photo credit: Ego Production

Katb el Ketab is the marriage ceremony conducted by the Maa’zoun in the mosque or at the house. The ceremony is concluded when the groom and the father of the bride put their hands together (again) and a piece of white cloth is put over it and they repeat a couple of words after the Maa’zoun. The ‘Mahr’ and ‘Moa’khar’ are written in the contract during the ceremony. The ’Moa’khar’ is the money a Muslim bride receives in case of a divorce.

Christian couples celebrate their marriage in church conducted by a priest, which includes many traditional rituals. The giving of the ‘Mahr’ or bride’s present - is a custom throughout Egypt. She is completely free to do with that money as she pleases but it is Egyptian tradition that the ’Mahr’ is used to buy the furniture of the house. The man is expected to buy the house and the electrical appliances.

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Henna night is only girls, the bride and her friends. The ladies gather at her house a day or two before the wedding to dance and have fun. This night is usually themed, mostly you see the girls wear belly-dancing outfits. In times past the Egyptian tradition was for the bride to dip her palms and feet in red henna but that doesn’t exist anymore, nowadays you hire a henna artist and she comes and applies the henna onto the girls.

It’s party time! Egyptian wedding celebrations start at night usually at 10 or 11. The celebration begins with the ‘Zaffa’ (procession), usually the invitations say it starts about one hour before it really does. But they do that on purpose to make sure all the guests are there when the bride makes her entrance.

If held at a hotel, the groom waits for the bride at the bottom of the stairs. There is a music band with traditional instruments like the Tabla and Mezmar. The bride is accompanied by her father, with only the mezmar playing and the women will do a lot of ululating (Zaghareet).

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Photo credit: Ego Production

Once they reach the groom her father hands her to him. The groom removes the veil from her face and kisses her forehead or cheek, then the procession begins and all the instruments start playing. The band starts singing traditional songs especially for the ‘Zaff’a’. Sometimes traditional dancers are also hired to dance before the couple as they make their way. The ‘Zaffa’ plays fifteen minutes up to an hour and it is extremely loud!

After the ‘Zaffa’ the couple makes their way to the ‘Kosha’. The couple sits down to greet their guests and have photos taken. Bride and groom have the first dance followed by all the guests for a night filled with music, singing and dancing.

They enjoy their wedding drink the ‘sharbat’ and proceed to cut the cake and feed each other a piece. Usually at this point the wedding band moves from the right hand to the left hand to symbolise their union. Egyptian weddings usually end very late - up to 3 or 4 am.



Author’s Note: A big thank you to Jasmin for her detailed wedding insights.

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