Weddings in Egypt: Travel Thoughts 7


© irene waters 2019

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.


© irene waters 2019

After the ceremony family and friends gather to celebrate the marriage. For the wealthy they often have receptions in large motels.


© irene waters 2019


© irene waters 2019


© irene waters 2019


© irene waters 2019


© irene waters 2019


© irene waters 2019

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.


© irene waters 2019

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.


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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7 Responses to Weddings in Egypt: Travel Thoughts 7

  1. I wonder if they hope to fall in love eventually, or if marriage is just a social arrangement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think these days many get to veto if they don’t want to marry a person chosen for them. It seems to be a contractual arrangement to a large extent with the man providing for the woman but in return can control whether she works or travels. Any money the woman does earn or bring with her into the marriage remains with her in the event of divorce and the man takes all children over 7. However, that said, the divorce rate is very low – about 2% whereas in Australia it is around 50%. I imagine they do grow to love each other. The couple at the beginning I though looked as in love as any couple I’d ever seen get married.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. JoHanna Massey says:

    Oh what an interesting photo essay. And respectfully done. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Charli Mills says:

    What an interesting glimpse into the wedding ceremonies of Egypt. I was surprised that people don’t date but then that made me wonder at the history of dating in other cultures. Beautiful strings of flowers for reception decorations!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Sounds of Egypt: Travel Thoughts 12 | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

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