Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Weddings in Egypt

Weddings in Egypt start when a young man and a young woman fall in love. The young man always asks the young woman if she will accept to marry him. If she really likes him, she will say yes.

When he gets an initial approval from her, he informs his family about his intention to get married.

He rings the young girl’s family and talks to the father to set a date to visit them. After the first meeting, the girl’s family get some information about the young man and his family to make sure that their daughter will be in good hands.

If things go all right, then some more steps are taken. After a few days the two families meet and they discuss some financial matters (who will buy what).

The young man is asked to buy or rent an apartment. Apartments in Egypt are very expensive to buy. That is why a few young men find it very hard to get married.

There are two big ceremonies in an Egyptian wedding (sometimes three). The first one is the engagement party. In this party the young girl doesn’t have a white wedding dress. She puts on an evening dress (normally an expensive one).

The young man presents her with a gold “Shabkka” consisting of a ring, necklace and earrings. Rich families buy diamond rings and other gold presents. Some of these “Shabkkas” may cost up to 100,000 dollars to buy. Many middle income families spend up to 2 or 5 thousand dollars to buy a gold “Shabkka”.

From that day on, the young man and the young woman are formally engaged. They can go out together to watch movies or attend other weddings (normally with someone else). They can’t live together.

The search for the suitable apartment starts for the young man and it costs a lot of money. The couple may be engaged for up to 4 years until they have enough money to start their life together.

On the wedding day, a marriage registerer performs the wedding ceremony. He first asks the bride in private if she fully accepts the young man as a husband. If she says “NO”, then everything is cancelled. The marriage registerer has to make sure that she is not forced to accept the young man as a husband.

A sum of money is paid to the bride’s family on that date to help with the cost of buying things for the house. Another sum of money is written in the marriage document to be paid for the young girl if a divorce takes place at any time in the future. The document has to be signed by two witnesses.

In the evening there is a big wedding party and up to 300 people are invited from both families. Singers, belly dancers and entertainers perform for the couple.

After this party the bride moves into the groom’s apartment and they start living together. They go to the new apartment in a convoy of more than 10 cars. They spend a honeymoon together normally inside the country. It’s very hard to get visas to travel overseas, but some rich people do.

Because marriage costs a lot of money, some young people now marry in secret. It is a big social problem for both families when they find out about it especially for the girl’s family.