Wedding Traditions in Saudi Arabia

Wedding Traditions in Saudi

When trying to delve into the customs and traditions of another country, we sometimes may find them a bit overwhelming and peculiar. But cultural heritage is an integral part of every country. Maybe certain traditions of one country will never be understood by people from the other one. You can often find controversial comments on different dating sites, as for instance on, showing that European women are somewhat unaware of what to expect when marrying men from Eastern countries.

But if you’re going to visit one of them, you have to be ready to get acquainted with certain customs. In this article, we will try to cover the wedding traditions of Saudi Arabia.

The mode and style of life of people living in Saudi Arabia are completely different from the European way of life. This has undoubtedly taken its toll on such an important event as a wedding celebration. Marriage is an enchanting event in this country. It is luxurious and picturesque, with its own specific characteristics. The East can fascinate and surprise.

Wedding Traditions in Saudi

Wedding Traditions in Saudi Arabia


Wedding preparations start here. During this event, the groom’s parents meet up with the bride’s ones to discuss the proposal. The word “Shawfa” basically means seeing each other. Once the young man and woman see each other, they let their families know if they’re ready for the wedding. If both families manage to find a common language, they arrange a few more meetings. Religious families prefer to skip this wedding tradition. Both sides keep arranging new meetings until all the concerns regarding the future ceremony are discussed. After that, the couple can begin preparing for the celebration.

Milkah or signing a marriage contract

This official event is crucial for the wedding and precedes the ceremony. However, only the closest relatives are usually present at it. In fact, it’s not the newlyweds who play the main role here. During Milkah, the groom’s and the bride’s fathers sign the marriage contract in the presence of two witnesses from each side. Once the groom and bride confirm that they’re ready to start a relationship, the Mimlik (the government-approved marriage agent would be the best definition of the term) recites a couple of verses from the Holy Quran and tells the couple about how important marriage is. Then he prays for a happy, strong, and long-lasting relationship for the newlyweds.

Saudi Arabian Wedding Traditions


After the contract is taken care of, it’s time for partying. Before the ceremony itself, the bride’s friends arrange a traditional henna party. During it, they apply beautiful henna tattoos on the future wife’s hands, wrists, and feet. After that, all other women present at the party draw henna patterns on their hands as well. Typically, it’s professional henna artists who apply the tattoos. After all, a wedding is a special occasion, so everything must look perfect.

The ceremony

The first thing that catches the eye is the celebration itself which is held on the basis of gender. To be more precise, the groom, friends of the groom, relatives, and indeed all male guests celebrate in one place, while the bride with her friends and female guests – in another.

Tables in both halls are full of food. At times, a family can spend several hundred thousand dollars for such events. Alcohol is under a very strict prohibition, but the traditional Arabic coffee turns the merry-go-round. As a rule, the main dish at any event in Saudi Arabia, including weddings, is Kabsa – a dish of lamb and rice, a bit like pilaf.

The groom’s feast with the guests, in a sense, resembles a bachelor party but without alcohol, which does not affect either the appetite or the mood of the guests. What wedding goes without dancing? After the guests have eaten enough, dancers and musicians come to the hall to perform traditional Bedouin dance with sabers. During this spectacular performance, the dancers, without breaking a sweat, wiggle from side to side while holding sabers at the ready.

In the bride’s hall, it’s much more interesting. The decoration of the hall is a way more elegant than in the hall for men. The bride herself looks more than great on this momentous day, changing at least five outfits for the evening, each of which would be an envy of any European woman of fashion, thus showing the generosity and prosperity of her future spouse because the entire financial side of the event rests on the groom’s shoulders.

Since there are no men in the female room, ladies have the right to throw off black coverlets and flaunt in cocktail dresses, showing weighty gold jewelry, which is inherent in all women in the world. The presence of a singer, any singer (at the discretion of the bride), even if it’s Madonna, is obligatory.

The evening ends with the groom entering the hall with the best man, and, after a brief speech from the stage, he takes the bride by the hand and leaves the hall with her in anticipation of the wedding night.

Perhaps, some of the traditions above are rather new to the European population. This is just the side effect of cultural differences which vary tremendously. Never be too blunt whey judging other peoples by their customs because they are deeply engraved into centuries.

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