Muslim Weddings in Egypt
The population of Egypt is 94% Sunni Muslim, thus the culture of the country is highly influenced by traditional Muslim practices. This includes areas pertaining to marriage, although Egypt is less traditional in this area - particularly in the relationship of the couple before a marriage - than many other traditional Muslim countries.
Meeting a partner
Traditional Islamic practices in Egypt dictate that there is to be no dating or other types of interactions prior to a couple's getting married. However, there are still social occasions where Egyptian men and women have a chance to meet each other. Usually, this will take place at a school or in a place of work.
In such circumstances, it is possible that a young man and a young woman may fall in love and desire a marital union. These marriages are traditionally opposed, although the family will usually relent if the couple remains committed to the idea, as long as both the man and woman are of the same social and educational status. Outside of a love match, Egyptian weddings are arranged, with the families of both bride and groom making inquiries of friends, relatives, and neighbors as to the other's standing and conduct.
If a union is deemed suitable by both families, the man and woman are permitted to meet and begin socializing. If they like each other, several more meetings with families are arranged, and an engagement party organized. At this party, the groom will give the bride a wedding ring.
The marriage contract is signed by the groom at the ceremony along with the family of the bride. There are also members of both families present as witnesses, although the bride herself is not in the room. Instead, she waits in a separate room and the contract is brought to her for her approval.
The ceremony itself follows traditional Muslim practices, including reading passages of the Quran and the Kitbah (formal betrothal). It may take place in a mosque, a secular establishment such as a hotel, or at the home of one of the couple's family.
The wedding ceremony at an Egyptian wedding is followed by the wedding feast, or walimah. In urban areas, this feast is celebrated with both sexes present, and includes a formal presentation of the couple, who often walk holding hands down a path formed with two lines of guests on either side. The rings which were received at the engagement party are switched from the right to the left hand, and there is cake, meats, pastry, sweets, nuts, salad and rice in large quantities. The bride will often throw a bouquet to the unwed ladies at the wedding, with whoever catches it forecast as being the next to get married. There is also music and dancing.
Weddings in the Egyptian countryside are more formal. Men and women are often segregated, with the bride covering her face with a veil during the ceremony.