So let's talk weddings, we know that's all we do but it's our passion and it would be rude not to give you an insight of what cultural / religious weddings signify. Especially if you are not sure about what to expect at your first Muslim wedding.
Islamic Muslim weddings will obviously vary depending on where exactly you live in the world and what culture you come from. Attitudes also vary across Pakistani culture, Arab cultures to Far East culture and so does the 'let me find you a groom child' to 'go forth and prosper' kind of marriage. In general though gone are the days when 'east is east' style scary arranged marriages took place. It is more common to find a far more relaxed and open
minded view to two people meeting and finding happiness in one another, which is a common practice no matter what religion you believe or what cultural influences you may be exposed to in your life.
The end game is clear, the process by which it happens varies of course but a popular route to happily ever after seems to be:
A Boy meets a girl at a party/friends house/wedding/blind date/mums insistence.
The Girl feels this could be Mr Right. And the planning begins, currently all in the mind.
The Boy and girl carry on meeting; they go out on fancy dates, find a common subject, product and then one day a light bulb goes off inside the boys head and he proposes!
Or, alternatively and commonly the parents sit the boy down, and point out that this girl is the perfect choice for him and he will never find another girl like the one he is courting as well as pulling out the age card and do they dare say, grandchildren before the boy and girl even say I DO.
The girl says yes and both families feed each other mithai and it all starts; The Big Fat Muslim Wedding.
At this point, the boy's parents will take the official marriage proposal to the girl's parents. A very old tradition which is a mark of respect and the official coming together not just of two people but of two families with all the trimmings.
Similar to Hindu and Sikh weddings, Muslim weddings begin at least a year in advance and have many events on route to the boy and girl becoming Mr and Mrs. Most will begin with an engagement followed by the whole Band Baja Baraat with the coming year seeing both parties organise venues, clothes, jewellery, and of course the most important factor to any wedding; The Catering.
Over the last 20 years or so it has become increasingly quite common to hire a wedding planner Ragamama Ragasaan to help you with all the aspects of planning and helping the bride and groom take care of every minute detail such as flowers, decor, music, favours, car hire, makeup artist, photography, wedding stationery and of course, choosing a bespoke menu for your Muslim wedding. Everything and anything it would entail to make the wedding perfect and personalised. But of course, every Muslim wedding is different, with some choosing small intimate ceremonies and others opting for a huge lavish event.
The lead up to the Muslim wedding will see a mehndi henna night. It's a fun night with lots of singing and dancing and a talented dholki player. Both bridal parties prepare songs to sing against one another
and will also practice carefully choreographed dance routines, looking to out-do one another. Henna and oil are applied to the bride and groom and a crazy amount of Indian sweets is fed to the couple.
However in keeping with the times- brides are choosing to have diced fruit fed at the ceremony as oppose to the laddoos- they do after all have bridal lehngas to fit into.
Following this night comes the all important Nikkah; the official Islamic marriage as performed by an Islamic Imam. It is the equivalent of going to a church and being wed by a priest. The bride
and groom are both asked by the Islamic Imam if they are happy to accept this marriage - to which they would reply yes or if they have Bollywood aspirations would reply 'Kabul hai'. The Imam reads extracts from the Quran and blesses the happy couple. This event is the actual wedding day and is hosted by the brides family. It tends to be a very happy day full of emotions. The climax of the Nikkah day sees the brides 'rukhsati' from her bridal home to her husbands home. As with all rukhsati, there tend to be very few dry eyes around and brides have been known to lose a false eyelash or two in the process of being hugged and kissed farewell - yes bridemaids beware, and remember to keep a handy few tissues, eyelash glue, safety pins, face pressing powder, vaseline (aparently applying this to the teeth makes it easier to smile when your cheeks hurt from all the smiling for the cameras) and hair pins for those loose curls that were sitting ever so neatly on the bridal bun until they were knocked off by a passing elbow.
Following this emotional outpour comes the Walima. This event is a full on celebration of the wedding and tends to be the most relaxed event in the Muslim wedding. This event is hosted by the grooms family and the final part of the Big Fat Muslim Wedding. After the formal feel of the Nikkah the Walima tends to have a more
carefree atmosphere with everyone letting their hair down, music and not forgetting the food because after the couple, it is possibly the most important aspect of Muslim weddings tends to be the food. After all, food is the way to people's hearts.
The Muslim mehndi ceremonies tend to serve traditional Indian food at its best- we're talking Punjabi Choley and bhatura, nihari, haleem, chaat stations and lots of Indian mithai with halwa. It's a celebration of street food with lots of choices. And this is just a couple of days prior to the wedding! The food does not stop there, Muslim weddings and Walimas will undoubtedly see even more food with lots of classic dishes with starters such as samosa chaat, fish pakoras, chicken tikka. The mains will always include gourmet biryanis, pilau, chicken or lamb Karahi with vegetarian options such as aloo baingan and palak. A hot trend is canapés to start off the meals which is the perfect ice breaker to the start of any reception. We have worked with many Muslim events in particular Walima and a bespoke menu created generally consists of something for everyone!
Sabz kebab in Cocktail Pita Pockets
Lamb Kebab in Cocktail Pita Pockets
Fish and Chips Cones
Punjabi Samosa Chaat
Lamb Tikka Masala
Chicken Reshmi Kebab
Fresh Exotic Fruit
We've worked with couples who have been inspired by Instagram and Pinterest and a lot of Muslim wedding these days come in all shapes and forms with lots of ideas, inspired by elements from various cultures, thanks to the wonderful world wide web. Most couples come to see Ragamama Ragasaan with an idea of what they would like to see. And although no two Muslim weddings will be, the are undoubtedly similar with the cultural customs with the numerous events, the constant relatives arriving from various towns and countries, the tantrums and cajoling, sometimes of the bride and sometimes of family members, the clothing disasters (and we have heard some stories), the clothing rescues, the extravagant bridal entrance, the food, the food and the food followed by Dilwale taking the Dulhania home. It surely is a ride not to be missed so be ready for it whilst Ragamama Ragasaan conducts the day from the early hours right until everyone has left after a joyous Muslim Wedding.