Muslim Weddings in Tunisia
As in most Muslim countries, Tunisian weddings involve several elements that includes regimented aspects before the wedding as well as at the ceremony itself.
Prior to the wedding
While most of Tunisia is now urbanized, there are still important regulations when it comes to meetings between men and women. In particular, those couples who wish to be married must be careful not to be seen as being intimate in any way either prior to their union or during their ceremony.
Many Tunisians will still be involved in arranged marriages, wherein the family of the groom determines whom they consider to be the best bride for their son. While traditionally the bride's opinion was not crucial to the process, today the young woman is often consulted as to her wished in the matter.
With an urbanized culture, there is more opportunity for men and women to meet in social settings. In these cases, a groom may meet a girl he deems suitable at school. In this case, he may ask a family member to interview the girl to see if she is receptive. If so, female members of the man's family will call upon the woman's family for a time of refreshments. During this time the behavior of the young lady is closely observed. If she is deemed suitable, the mother of the young man will begin discussions with the mother of the young woman, and both families will begin to inquire as to the other's social standing and reputation.
In most cases, parental consent is not absolutely necessary for a union to take place in Tunisia, but few young people will go against the wishes of their families. When the engagement is agreed upon, there will be a party to announce it. This is the first opportunity to celebrate publicly, and that means that a lot of people are invited to participate. The wedding rings are given during this ceremony, and there is lots of food. Although the couple are now allowed to see each other due to the public announcement, they seldom get the chance, as they are busy with other preparations. These include building a home and acquiring money on behalf of the man (Tunisian engagements are typically long term events) and goods for the new house on the part of the woman. The groom will often bring his bride fabric and other pieces of jewelry.
Day of the contract
The signing of the wedding contract is the formalization of the Muslim union. The groom proceeds in procession with his family and friends to the bride's family home. The bride is dressed in her best dress, often the same style as those of Western weddings. She is also decorated along her arms and hands with intricate designs in henna. The bride, groom, and their parties then continue to the civil registry. The ceremony itself is short and succinct, with the rites being observed and the first page of the Qur'an recited by all present. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the groom may present the bride with a gift of money (mahr), which symbolizes his desire and his ability to take care of her.
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