A big fat Muslim wedding is of course not the same as an “Islamic wedding.” An Islamic wedding is one that conforms to the Islamic faith as defined by the Quran and the examples/sayings of the Prophet (SAW).  At its most basic level, an Islamic wedding requires a willing man, woman, her wali (representative who is usually the father), an imam and two witnesses. The ceremony consists of the nikah (the signing of the contract), a mahar (dowry) to be paid by the groom, and a walimah, which is a feast that is for the community. Most people will probably agree on that. However, once you bring in culture, you get all sorts of variations when it comes to a Muslim wedding.  So how do you know you are at a big fat Muslim wedding? Scroll on to find out!

Saleha-and-Shan-by-Sabah-Azam

Saleha-and-Shan-by-Sabah-Azam

Disclaimer: The following article is meant for Muslims with a sense of humor. If you do not fall  in this category, or can pretend that you have one please do not read this.

  1. A Muslim wedding is not one event, it can put any European royal wedding to shame. It can start with a proposal, warming up to an engagement, then a series of dholkis, mehndi/henna, nikah, reception, walimah, rukhsti, and then the honeymoon.
  2. A small wedding is just shy of 299 plus people. Mid-size 499 plus, and super-size is the whole village or town.
  3. Although a Muslim (Al-Jazari) invented the clock, we have no idea what being punctual means. The wedding will almost always start late and finish late, so don’t bother going at the time specified on the invite. Some people think this is just a Desi (South Asian phenomenon), but it is true across most Muslim cultures.
  4. “No boxed gifts” means cash only. Period. Moolahs, not mullahs, nice crisp $100 bills, and make sure you give them to the host and not a waiter who happens to be passing by.
  5. When you arrive at the reception hall, pause with your family. Unless you are directed to sit at a particular table, scan the horizon and see if seating is segregated or not. If you’re not Muslim and it is segregated seating, don’t take offense. Every family and community has its own way of doing things. If you are a guy, sitting at an all women’s table or a woman sitting at an all guys’ table, take a deep breath, slowly get up and run to the other side.
  6. If you find a table with people who look confused and don’t fit in, that is the place for you to go if you are a colleague, neighbor, or school friend who happens not to be Muslim.
  7. Buffet style means you better get in line as soon as you arrive, once the announcement is made. There is a mad rush so you may spend the rest of the evening waiting in line.
  8. Why does the bride wear more jewelry than the Ancient Egyptian, Queen Nefertiti? It’s a cultural obsession, next!
  9. There are four types of dancing at Muslim weddings. At the dholki/mehndi/henna it is the women only. At the walimah, it may be the men only. At others, there may be a coordinated Bollywood dance, and then of course there are those who should not or do not dance.
  10. Unlike American and European weddings, the conclusion of a Muslim wedding is sad which may confound you. This is true especially in South Asian weddings, where the bride says goodbye to her family, and there is an emotional separation from the parents of the bride usually accompanied with tears. Get your tissues ready.

That is it. Congratulations, you have now participated in a Big. Fat. Muslim Wedding.

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