How To Attend a Muslim Wedding

Traditional Muslim wedding ceremonies are generally solemn, brief affairs—and are sometimes even private—but the feast afterward will be a joyous occasion to celebrate the happy couple.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Enjoy the food and the company! Alcohol will most likely not be served, but that shouldn’t stop you from having a good time.
  • TIP: When the Quran is recited, some Muslim women who don’t usually wear a headscarf will put one on.
  • Step 2: After the meal, the couple usually greets a reception line. As you go up to greet them, only shake hands or hug the member of the couple that is the same sex as you. For example, women guests may hug the bride but should not hug or shake hands with the groom, unless he initiates contact.
  • Step 3: Express your happiness to the couple and offer your wishes for a blessed marriage, saying, for example, “May God bless you with faith, love, and happiness in this world and the next.”
  • FACT: Muslim wedding receptions in many countries are traditionally very large, with more than 500 guests in attendance.
  • Step 4: If the religious ceremony is held in a public place, like a hotel, just sit back and watch. Usually a religious leader will give a short sermon and recite relevant verses of the Quran while the couple sits next to him or her. Then the couple will sign the wedding contract along with witnesses. The couple may also exchange rings.
  • TIP: If you’re at a loss, ask a Muslim acquaintance or member of the bridal party to guide you.
  • Step 5: If you receive a printed or emailed invitation, be sure to RSVP in a timely manner.
  • TIP: Conservative Muslims might have a religious service in a mosque, where non-Muslims may not be allowed, and a reception that is gender-segregated. A more secular couple, however, may have only a brief religious service in a public place and a mixed-gender reception that includes dancing.
  • Step 6: Study the invitation to discover exactly what part of the marriage you are invited to. In some cases, the religious ceremony, or nikah, is held privately several weeks or months in advance. If you are not a family member or close friend, it is likely you are only invited to the walima, or reception, which does not include a religious ceremony.
  • Step 7: If gift registry information is not included in the invitation, discreetly inquire among the bride’s family and friends about whether the couple has registered for gifts. If they haven’t, purchase a gift of your own choosing and bring it with you to the wedding.
  • Step 8: If the religious ceremony is held in a mosque and you’re female, this is not the moment for your strapless vinyl minidress. Fully cover your legs, arms, and shoulders. If your best dresses are all knee-length and above, consider wearing a long coat over your dress. You may also want to bring a scarf to cover your head.
  • Step 9: Find out as much as you can about the religious and cultural background of the couple. This will provide vital information about what to wear, what parts of the wedding you can attend, and what to expect from the ceremony and/or reception.

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