Part 3: Results of 2015 Perfect Muslim Wedding Survey

This is the third and final part of the results from the 2015 Perfect Muslim Wedding and Marriages Survey. Once again there thank you to all who participated. We believe there is tremendous learning we can gain from each other. There are some wonderful gems in this survey. Read through them. Take one or two that resonate for you and implement them in your lives. Rinse and repeat. May Allah make everyone’s marriage a blessed one.

Photo by feriansyah availablable under a Creative Commons Attribution-license

Photo by feriansyah availablable under a Creative Commons Attribution-license

What was the biggest challenge in the first few years of your marriage (or that of a friend or family member)?

  1. For me personally, it was living so far away from my parents. Also, trying to fit into a new family and in-laws is difficult because it’s not something you’re used to.
  2. Getting to know each other’s little habits, such as squeezing out the toothpaste, cleanliness, moods when hungry, tired or stressed etc.
  3. Giving up single life, such as hanging out with friends.
  4. I have only been married for two months. Among friends and family members, communication seems to be a big challenge.
  5. I used to go to work and my wife used to stay home, she was lonely the first year.
  6. Know each other closely, and which buttons not to push!
  7. Learning how to cope with in-laws who are critical and judgmental.
  8. Learning to live with another person, realizing that your spouse is not perfect and you are not perfect, but love each other for who you are. I wish we could all work on self-growth and self-understanding before we get married.
  9. Learning when to keep quiet and not continue in the fight or complaining.
  10. Learning where to compromise and where to stand your ground.
  11. Living together and sharing a bathroom.
  12. My ex was unprepared for sharing his life and was very self-centered and negative.
  13. My friend was having a hard time being accepted by the guy’s mom because she did not choose her.
  14. Not doing pre-marital counseling or rushing into marriage.
  15. Not knowing your role or not agreeing on roles.
  16. When you marry someone from abroad then navigating immigration laws is stressful.
  17. Young couple, not financially stable.

What have you taught your spouse, or learned from them (or observed)?

  1. Compromise and understanding are essential characteristics, but these of course are subjective. To me, understanding means completely listening to the other person you may disagree with (without talking and interrupting), empathizing with them, and responding in a way where you explain that you hear and understand what they are saying, but that your position is different, and WHY. Basically painting a picture for that person to understand your perception since that person can’t read our mind (even though we want them to so bad sometimes).
  2. Everything is not what you expect. Expect differences. I learned from my spouse they were from a very different upbringing and that I needed to understand that point of view as well as they needed to understand where I came from better. Though both Muslim, our family upbringing was very different.
  3. Happy wife = happy life (Editor’s comment, nice formula).
  4. How to be more affectionate and less shy when at home. Being Muslim we weren’t culturally accustomed to being around our halal partner.
  5. How to communicate how easily people are influenced by their family even if they are wrong, there can be a bias. The importance of establishing and maintaining healthy, respectful boundaries with others.
  6. I have learned patience and respecting others in all situations. I used to be very hot-headed and would get angry or impatient easily. I’ve learned from my husband that remaining calm and collected in situations is better in the long run.
  7. I have learned that hope is stronger than fear.
  8. I learned the difference between what is really important to him, but of lesser importance to me, and vice versa, so we learned how to compromise.
  9. I taught my husband to communicate his feelings and he taught me to share them/the issue with the best intention and in the best words, time and place.
  10. I think I probably learned more from my spouse over the past almost 30 years than he has learned from me. I learned about being patient and understanding, I learned about how to truly care about someone else, I learned how to love without being perfect. I learned a lot about letting  go and not holding on to anger and grudges and hurt feelings.
  11. I’ve learned a lot from my wife, and consider myself blessed to be married to such a mature, responsible individual. Before marriage, I used to consider myself ready and mature, but luckily my wife knocked some sense into me. (Editor: High Five’s brother)
  12. I’ve learned to be more giving to those in need.
  13. I’ve learned to expect nothing and to depend on me and only me.
  14. I’ve learned what a wonderful cook my husband is.
  15. I’ve taught him to be more open minded, and he’s taught me to really depend on Allah for everything. (That is the formula)
  16. Share.. Be transparent with finances
  17. Taught her to drive car, she taught me to dress appropriately for an occasion.
  18. That certain things don’t matter in life and that we have to give up certain things and take turn in making sacrifices if we want our relationship to work.
  19. That you can take on bad habits and you can take a leadership role no matter what the other person is doing it’s a choice.
  20. The importance of communication. What a relationship needs to survive – e.g. unity, sincere wanting to be together, efforts toward the relationship, spending time together, respecting what is important to each other outside of the relationship (e.g. volunteer work), etc. Respectful boundaries with in-laws.
  21. To accommodate the lifestyle of each other, and to ensure that it is in compliance with social and community values.
  22. Unconsciously and slowly, we have adopted a lot of each other’s basic habits.

What makes your (or someone you admire) marriage tick?

  1. Allah comes first. Always. Makes everything else fall into place.
  2. Believing in the marriage wholeheartedly. Knowing that we all make mistakes and we are not perfect and everyone has up and downs but learning to forgive quickly and moving on. Don’t let one issue or event or some hurt feeling get in the way of the larger picture-your love for each other. Most importantly, true belief in Allah and self-growth, self-evaluation and self-understanding will help you learn your weaknesses and once you know yourself better and help yourself become a better person (along with your spouse doing the same thing) you will help each other in all aspects of life. Like true partners, you will help and complement each other, Inshallah.
  3. Envisioning your spouse to not only be your protector and lover, but your best friend. The one who you go to when you feel vulnerable, when you need to feel safe. This person understands your ins and outs, and accepts you knowing all of it. Embrace it and give the same in return. This equal exchange of love is what I feel makes a marriage “tick.”
  4. Going away on “mini vacations”.
  5. Laundry (no explanation required)
  6. Making oath to myself that what ever happens I will never end this marriage. Meaning you will do everything in your power to keep this marriage. in other words I will make all kind of sacrifice to keep marriage. I believe you would need this few times during your marriage or at least once.
  7. Open communication,  kindness, humility, patience, understanding, commitment to a married lifestyle (instead of living like roommates), loving each other for the sake of Allah, desire to please Allah, taking marital responsibilities very seriously, making efforts toward each other daily, being affectionate with each other, learning about the other, being apart of each other’s lives. Being interdependent (not completely dependent on each other or independent of each other, but rather of combination of the two). Two separate bank accounts. Spending some time apart, not all time spent together. Making time for each other. Common goals, common interests. Disagreements that are respectful with no yelling, name calling, put-downs, criticizing each other’s character. Being kind to each other’s family. Sharing household and childcare responsibilities. Making warm gestures toward each other. Being best friends. Being able to lean on each other and emotionally support each other. Having fun together and being able to laugh together. Equality may not always be possible, but striving for equity can be. Following the extensive research by Dr. John Gottman on what makes marriage work – “The 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work.”
  8. Patience on her part (Hmmm, says something about you?)
  9. Seeking help from Allah
  10. We both realize it is a work in progress and we try to be there for each other no matter what.
  11. We work together. No relationship is made or broken by one person. It takes two to make it, and two to break it. Each person has to contribute equally.
  12. When we are angry we do not discuss the matter. Later when we are cool we discuss. We ignore each others’ shortcomings and learn to work around them. As time passes our standards and habits begin to synch with each other. Apart from sticking with each other nothing really matters in the long run. We are both different people from the ones we married. We have grown older together as a couple there is no I or you between us now after 18 years.

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Part 2: Results of 2015 Perfect Muslim Wedding and Marriages Survey

This is the second part of the results from the 2015 Perfect Muslim Wedding and Marriages Survey. In the first part of the survey we shared answers for questions 1 to 3. In part two we are sharing results for questions 4 to 6.

Photo courtesy of Xyra's Photography
Photo courtesy of Xyra’s Photography

What were ways you/they saved money on the wedding?

  1. Asking for donations. One guest brings food, another brings cups, etc.
  2. At my wedding we invited a small group, found a beautiful restaurant with waterfalls and flamingos and kept it simple.
  3. Can you save money on a wedding? (Editor: Yes you can).
  4. Coupon…Sunday venue.
  5. Cutting down on some of the extra stuff – chocolate fountains, DJs and choosing a non-popular day for the venue location.
  6. Flowers and cake from Safeway; dress from China; cheapest menu offering.
  7. Free college meeting room. Food was supplied by the community. No decorations, no gifts. Simple white pant suit for bride.
  8. Getting cake from Safeway or having a fake cake where only the first tier was real cake.
  9. Getting friends bibliography and video. (Not a good idea, unless the friend has an actual business in video and photography), printed our own wedding cards, and got a friend to do my make-up.
  10. Had wedding at mosque, saved money, had wedding in Ramadan saved money.
  11. I came from simpler time and chose a simpler wedding, made my own wedding dress and cake and sweets and held the wedding at my parent’s house with limited guests. Unfortunately Muslims like other groups have not been immune to materialistic way of life for the most part.
  12. I had a friend do my henna, my family pitched in to make DIY centerpieces.
  13. I made my own dress, we had a small party (we were new in town) in our apartment and we prepared the food.
  14. I made my own wedding outfit and had it on the beach, it was free!
  15. In the union of marriage that was most memorable for me, the bride and groom decided to save their money for planning a nice getaway, in addition to giving whatever was left for charity. Rather than waste it on the glitz of the “weddings” that usually take place.

What do you think caused the most stress during wedding planning (that you later realized didn’t matter)?

  1. Everything! Explanation: when in the middle of planning, people take everything too seriously and in reality none of it matters in the long run! Just make sure food is good and the functions are somewhat organized.
  2. Focusing on small details and taking anger/frustration out at people who were there to help.
  3. I’ve been involved in at least 5 wedding plans. The beginning and very end are the most brutal. A majority (if not all) of the brides are on a budget, and responsibilities mostly lie on other family members to arrange and plan. So the preparation is horrendous because there is no central location to get ALL the items, and the very end (clean up and put away) is the most tiresome because of the need for it to be done right away. The duration of the celebration of course is the best and most enjoyable time, which then makes us go into considering “it was all worth it”… sort of.
  4. Large guest list, elaborate decoration, catering many many dishes, paying for photography and video. Spending too much on the brides and grooms’ dresses, having many parties.
  5. Pleasing everyone and inviting all with kids.
  6. Stuff that in the end no one cares about.
  7. The bride taking most of the wedding planning burden onto her own shoulders instead of sharing it with her husband, family, or wedding planner.
  8. The cake! We ended up throwing away a lot of cake because our caterer didn’t serve them on time and once they served them they used small and thin portions.
  9. The craziness, music and who should dance. And also, being to economical as to not invite too many people, I ended up with 25 less people who didn’t make it. So, wither be 100% that everyone you invited has RSVP’d or invite a few extra, because a few will not show up.
  10. Wanting things to be perfect instead of good enough.
  11. Wasting time, energy, and money selecting the perfect invitation, decorations, center pieces, entertainment, etc. The most stress was caused by people not working together, everyone trying to do their own thing, and respectful boundaries not being maintained amongst the families. This set the stage for what the marriage turned out to be as well as relationships with in-laws and in the end, this mattered more than anything!
  12. When the bride over stresses about her dress/how she will look. They always look beautiful.
  13. Who to invite/not to invite!

Based on your experiences what advice would you give a couple planning their wedding?

  1. This is a one time affair – don’t spend money trying to outdo others. Have it in a place where all your guests have a place to sit, have sufficient food, and pick the colors you like to decorate the place. Be sure to plan to walk around and greet everyone who came.
  2. Be simple, forgo this materialistic life and enjoy the moment and cherish the memories. Instead of worrying about stuff, connect with the guests and enjoy your time with your spouse-to-be and family. Lots of true laughter.
  3. Discuss things with the families instead of just the couple deciding on things. Also, choose a time where most of the family can attend.
  4. Don’t go into debt over one night of memories. Have a simple wedding and put the money you saved in something that matters like a down payment on a real home.
  5. Don’t worry it will all work out regardless of all the minor things that aren’t perfect. Your wedding will still be perfect and memorable to you. Even the things that don’t go perfectly will likely end up as a happy or funny memory. “Remember how stressed I was about learning how to tie on a bow tie…it still ended up crooked in half the pictures..haha”
  6. Enjoy it and don’t go overboard. Make sure you never get stressed enough to snap at your family that day it’ll ruin your memories.
  7. Even if things don’t turn out EXACTLY how you wanted, still enjoy your big day because at the end those things won’t matter, you feeling happy will and don’t let anything ruin that.
  8. First choose the right spouse. Then spend just enough to make it special and not enough to ruin the rest of your life because it’s a marriage, not a wedding that is important.
  9. Focus on welcoming your guests and ensuring all your closed ones are a part of your most memorable moment of your life.
  10. Invite 10 percent more than you think will attend because people will bail on the day of.
  11. It is important to involve your parents and respect their wishes but at the same time do what is true to you and your future spouse as it is your day you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
  12. Keep your guest list small to only your family and closest friends because paying per head adds up very quickly, pick a more intimate venue.
  13. Make sure you are getting married for the right reasons. Make sure expectations of each other and a life together are discussed, agreed upon, and committed to. Communicate to each other what is and is not important to have/not have for the wedding, including the type of wedding, budget, who is involved in the planning, decision-making, etc. Plan the wedding program together. Decide on what would be appropriate speeches, etc, select carefully those who will be making speeches, and speak to them about what you would like and would not like. Speak with the Imam who will be conducting the wedding and discuss what will be happening, what you can expect, what you want to see, etc and come to an agreement that is reasonable and satisfying. The couple should seriously consider pre-marital counseling.
  14. Take it easy and start planning well in advance. Whatever happens will be nice either way. At the end of the day its not the beautiful hall you should care about. It’s the marriage of you and your spouse-the love of your life- that matters the most. Always try and think practical and know that it’s only a matter of one night and then all your stress is enjoy it instead of stressing.
  15. Take plenty of time to plan, But also be open to ideas from n with sides this way there won’t be the feeling that the wedding is just a one person event. Don’t cheapen out on videography, photography and makeup artist.
  16. The wedding should represent Allah ‘s blessing for people that respect and love each others.
  17. to be modest in their expectations of what a wedding should look like, not to compare their celebration with what “others” have done, and to critically think about what an actual “wedding” should be worth to them. After all, it’s ONE day. And perhaps the $10,000-$100,000 could more preferably be invested in their future rather this very one day.
  18. Try not to stress too much. Everything does NOT need to be perfect. Everyone just has to have a very good time 🙂

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Part 1: Results of 2015 Perfect Muslim Wedding Survey

The results are finally in for the Perfect Muslim Wedding and Marriages survey. It took a lot of outreach and follow-ups to elicit the over 108+ responses we got. Thank you to all of you who participated.

Photo by Amna Hakim Photography
Photo by Amna Hakim Photography

Our first survey last year was primarily quantitative, so it was easy to summarize the results. This time we wanted to not only go far and wide in North America but also deep, so we went for a qualitative “fill in the details” survey. We got some wonderful insights.

To make this digestible we first reduced the 900 or so responses down to just over 100. How did we do that? We passed on one word answers, clichés, sexist comments or those that were pretty generic. We were then still left with over 120 insightful responses. It is still a lot of information to take in, so we are breaking down and sharing the highlights three questions at a time. Here is part one:

Think about a memorable wedding you attended. What made it memorable?

  1. A couple come to mind: 1. One family wedding in which we were included in the planning and hosting. 2. One friend’s wedding where they spent obscene amounts of money and went over the top.
  2. A lot of different things, but especially the enthusiasm of the family and the welcoming mannerisms.
  3. Being in a beautiful natural setting with Allah’s creation around.
  4. My own wedding. There was storm which broke 100 year record that day.
  5. The atmosphere and aura of two people who love each other uniting, a good and meaningful speech by the “aghed,” the person uniting the bride and groom.
  6. The bride and groom expressed how honored they were to have us guests attend their wedding. They made us ALL feel so welcome. It was a non-Muslim wedding.
  7. The simplicity – no expensive hotels or costs which you could otherwise use to literally make a down payment on a million dollar house. That’s right, a down payment on a million dollar house. Think about it.
  8. The speeches that were humble, warm, and genuine and made with kindness and respect toward both the bride and the groom. The talk given by the Imam that helped the couple and the guests learn about what marriage truly is from an Islamic perspective versus a cultural perspective.
  9. When two sisters decided to share weddings. It was memorable because I’ve never been to two weddings at once. It was also a bit odd. Who gets more attention?

What would a perfect wedding look like to you?

  1. A simple one with a couple of interesting or different features.. such a cool dessert bar. Nothing too elaborate thought. That is a waste of money.
  2. everyone is having fun, having meaningful conversations with all my favorite people, being together in a beautiful space, remembering God, all pray together.
  3. Good friends, good program with memorable speeches, remembrance of Allah, good food.
  4. Not too expensive. Women and men separated Dance and Islamic fun.
  5. Organized with things the bride and groom enjoy and things that represent them. Good food being served on time. Short but memorable speeches.

Is there anything you wish you/they had spent less or more time/money on?

  1. All the jewellery and presents for everyone. It’s not necessary to be so extravagant. Too many rituals, functions, and events connected to the wedding in the South Asian culture. Each one requires food, outfits, gifts, etc, which is not needed for a couple to fulfill the Sunnah of marriage. Wish we spent less money on the rings and dowry, it’s not necessary and it’s something you have to pay Zakat on.
  2. Definitely now I think money we spend for my wedding was waste of money and time.
  3. For my wedding I wish I had spent less. For the one I was invited to that money could have been spent to feed a thousand people for a week.
  4. I asked a friend to videotape it and wished I had asked a more reliable person.
  5. I wish I didn’t have to spend so much money on centerpieces because they get tossed the next day. It’s always sad to see your money being wasted.
  6. I wish I spent on a photographer and not on a videographer.
  7. I wish people would spend less time planning every detail and more time having fun I feel like the best weddings are the weddings that aren’t rehearsed to the T.
  8. I wish they’d arranged for out of town-fellow college student guests to be picked/dropped to nearest train station.
  9. I would have liked more time to plan a better, less boring wedding. Although, in hindsight, since it didn’t last, it doesn’t matter.
  10. In the weddings i am most accustomed to, i wish we spent less time on glamour and comparison to “raising the bar”, and more on the relationship between families coming as one, community members joining for pure support, and ANY dhikr. After all, marriage if half our deen.
  11. Picking and choosing during the planning stage was useless because on the wedding day i didn’t really notice much, i was just in a daze of amazement. it was beautiful though.
  12. Wish they spent more time enjoying their big day, rather than taking pictures all night.

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Perfect Muslim Wedding Survey Infographic

A first ever survey carried out by in the North-American Muslim community is now providing new details captured in a detailed infographic.

It reveals, among other things, that Muslim brides prefer red or white as the color of choice for the wedding dress. In terms of how couples meet, an overwhelming number meet through parents and friends.

Although Muslims in the United States, Canada, and the UK are the largest growing faith, their exact numbers, demographics and preferences are still pretty hard to come by. This survey, the first of it’s kind and debuting on the launch of the site, provides interesting insights. Over 100 people participated in the survey.

Among the findings; the average length of engagement is less than one year for the vast majority and brides prefer to keep their maiden name. Although Muslim weddings tend to have a larger number of guests, the majority are still under 200 guests. The marriage ceremony, called the nikah tends to, overwhelmingly, take place at a mosque or the bride’s home. On the question of budget, about half of the weddings are under $10,000 and the rest mainly between $10,000 to $50,000.

To give the numeric values from the survey some context, the following insights are shared. South Asian brides tend to prefer red whereas those from Arab, Persian and others prefer white. However, traditions are changing and modern Muslim brides are trying out new colors.

Perfect Muslim Wedding Survey Infographic
Perfect Muslim Wedding Survey Infographic

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Details of the survey are as follows:

Participants: 102

What was the length of engagement or your ideal length of engagement?

<6 months 46.94%
6-12 months 34.69%
12-18 months 13.27%
>2 yrs 5.10%

How did you meet your spouse/fiance?

Through parents 42.25%
Through friends 43.66%
Online 11.27%
At work 2.82%

As a bride, have you or will you keep your maiden name?

Yes 52.58%
No 19.59%
Not Applicable 27.84%

How many guests did you invite or how many attended your wedding?

50-100: 29.17%
101-200: 30.21%
201-300: 9.38%
300-500: 21.88%
500+ 9.38%

Where was your nikah (wedding ceremony) performed or where would you like it to be?

Mosque: 43.75%
Home: 31.25%
Reception hall: 25%
Other answers: University, Restaurant, Department of Ministry

What was your budget or planned budget for the wedding?

<10K: 48.98%
10-20K: 29.59%
20-30K: 11.22%
30-50K: 4.08%
50K+: 6.12%

What was or is your preferred color of wedding dress?

Red: 48.68%
White: 43.42%
Orange: 1.32%
Green: 6.58%
Other Answers: Traditional ethnic Muslim dress, Red & green, Ivory or off-white, White, cream, beige, off-white, champagne, whatever color the dress comes in.

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