Every night we were on land in Egypt we experienced a wedding. It made us interested to know what the traditions are in Egypt regarding weddings as the couple above arrived at the reception venue a long time before the guests. The ceremony itself is a simple affair and only a few people are in attendance. For a wedding under Islamic law often it is just the groom, the bride’s father and an iman from the mosque. The bride’s father speaks for the bride. For Coptic Christians a church service is held.
After the ceremony family and friends gather to celebrate the marriage. For the wealthy they often have receptions in large motels.
The guests would gather. The married couple would then arrive to someone making a blood curdling chant as heard in the video below.
All the brides looked happy bar the one we saw in Alexandria. I took no photos there because it didn’t appear to be a happy occasion. On the way back to Cairo we asked our guide about marriage and he told us about his which is common to most Egyptians.
Dating does not happen in Egypt. For the wealthy children may meet at university or other social outlets but for most they meet their betrothed as a result of parental planning. Most these days can agree to the parents choice of partner or not but for some it is still arranged soley by the parents. This is what I thought may have been the case in Alexandria. For our guide he met his wife to be at university but it was not a given that her parents would agree to the match, He had to present himself with his financial prospects and sell himself. He managed to do this. He owned property which most men strive to do as soon as possible. It was suggested that this is why there are so many unfinished appartments in Cairo – they have been bought by men but won’t be finished until a bride has been found.
When the time came the flat would be finished with the bride furnishing and finishing the kitchen and bedroom and the groom the remainder of the house.
After having received parental consent our guide and his bride to be met on a couple of occasions, always with a chaperone. When they married they had never kissed.
Of huge importance on the wedding night is ascertaining whether the bride is a virgin. In many homes the guests wait outside the bridal suite for the bloodied hankerchief to be shown as proof of virginity. In our guides case his mother kept ringing to ask only to be told that the marriage had not yet been consumated. The celebrations had gone on to long and the bride was tired and shy and our guide was a novice and a little worried as to what he was supposed to do. Finally after two days and many frantic phone calls he was able to say that his bride was indeed a virgin.
For those girls found not to be so life was not so happy. They could immediately be divorced and ostracised from the family. I imagine a terrifying time for some and perhaps the fear of this was the problem in Alexandria. I will never know but it was fascinating to have just a small peak into traditions different from our own.