Travel – Local Wedding

I was invited by my Emirati friend, Rana, to a family wedding here in Abu Dhabi. I’ve heard so much about local weddings and I was very excited to be invited to one.

I’ve just come off 3 night shifts, so I woke up a little behind schedule today (apparently the snooze button only works a certain number of times on my iPhone!). So I didn’t get to have my make up and hair done professionally. But that’s OK… I’m lovely just the way I am 🙂

It took me about 30 minutes to decide which dress I was going to wear and ended up with a black & gray dress with my black leather boots and a black pashmina. I threw on a bit of mascara and lipstick and called for the local car service to come and pick me up. The parking situation here doesn’t allow you the luxury of taking your own car out when you are going to be back past 10 pm.

I arrived at Rana’s and the photo shoot was already in full swing. I was invited to have pictures done with Rana and with my baby Abdul Aziz… aka Azooza!

Around 8 pm we left for the Intercontinental Hotel for the “wedding”. Now, a wedding ceremony as we know it doesn’t occur. It has already happened. So, even though they call it a wedding, it’s really equivalent to our reception. The ballroom was GORGEOUS! Beautiful centerpieces with orchids and roses and really cool little take home gifts at each place setting. Once the ladies where in the ballroom, the abayas and sheilas come off and it’s time to dance and eat and visit and listen to LOUD music!

The dresses the women were wearing were unbelievable. Every color of the rainbow with tons of Swarovski crystals and other adornments. The hair was as big as the ladies in Hairspray and the makeup was beautiful, very vibrant and alive. There was loud Arabic music and the younger women and kids got up on the catwalk and danced to the music. It was a joy to see these women let loose and enjoy themselves. The kids really liked it. The food servers were constantly bringing out more finger food: stuffed grape leaves, kibbeh, hummous, arabic bread, chocolates.

At around 1130 pm it was time for the bride to make her appearance. She was gorgeous. Her white dress over the top! While she slowly walked the cat walk up to her throne, dinner was being served. Biriani rice (my favorite!), lamp chops (I’ve eaten more lamb in the 17 months I’ve been here than in the whole rest of my life!), pasta, shrimp curry and other yummy food. Poor bride didn’t eat, she was busy getting pictures taken with everyone.

Around 1230 there was a big rush to put on the abayas and sheilas because the men were coming! All the women covered their gorgeous dresses with their black abayas (adorned of course with bling) and covered their beautiful hairdos with their sheilas.

Then the men came in accompanying the groom. The bride covered in a white sheila and abaya, even covering her face while the grooms male family members were there. Again, lots of music and pictures and after about 1/2 hour the men left and only the groom stayed. Some of the women took off their abayas because the groom is a relative. Throughout this time various family members would throw money out to the crowd… the kids loved it!

We had yummy cake and arabic coffee and then the night was over. I had a great time. It was so wonderful to be invited into this family event and have the honor of experiencing a local wedding.

Here’s the one pic I got… it’s of Rana and me. Her husband Mohammad took the picture… Rana’s the one that got up early enough for hair and makeup! LOL

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5 thoughts on “Travel – Local Wedding

  1. Love how you embrace and experience all that life has to offer. Beautiful picture of the two of you. Are westerners required or expected to wear culturally appropriate attire when attending an event such as this?

    • Thanks, Jonelle… I was the only westerner there (I feel SO BLESSED!) and I was free to wear whatever I wanted. Here in Abu Dhabi westerners are expected to dress respectfully, typically meaning anything covering your elbows and knees are okay. The only place I know of that you have to cover in Abu Dhabi is at the Grand Mosque… and it’s kind of cool to experience dressing like the locals when you are there 🙂
      I wish, wish, wish I could have taken pictures of the dresses the women were wearing… they were GORGEOUS! Sleeveless, full length with dipping backs… just beautiful!

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