Saudi Weddings

I've been to a handful of weddings in Saudi and one thing is for sure: different regions dance to the beat of a (slightly) different drum. However, the similarities between a Najdi (Riyadh, Qassim) wedding and a Hijazi (Jeddah, Mecca, Medinah) wedding are abundant. The main ingredients are the same: a strict separation between men and women; the incredibly delayed arrival of the bride; the long length of the wedding; the SWEETS, coffee, tea and finger food; the magnificence of the banquet hall; the ill-fitting, painted on, bedazzled dresses; the overly white, garish makeup; and the band of female singers and drummers (tagagat) that belt out the same tunes. You get the idea.

All of these things are fine and I'm sure really fun for the Saudi women who attend. The banquet halls are really beautiful, the chocolate is really good and who doesn't love an excuse to dress up and get their hair done? After all, royal blue, swarovski detailed gowns are a nice to change to black, drab abayas. Saudi women are strong and confident enough to wear whatever they want (even if it doesn't really fit or match their body types :-/ ). Why not eat lavish food at 4 a.m.? It's the weekend! The tagagat are playing the beats they know and love, they are surrounded by their family and friends, and the night is young.

I get it. But I just can't get into it. I attended a wedding last night for a couple from a very religious, uptight and strict region called Al Qassim. From the moment I walked in I was strip- searched at the door. Walking into a Saudi wedding with a cell phone is like walking into an airport with a knife. I understand the great distrust of a 3 megapixel camera phone. I promise, I do. There are some immoral, distasteful people who would photograph and perhaps alter the photograph in a despicable way. With that being said, I don't appreciate the harsh manner in which it is confiscated from me. I guess I just don't like that all of the songs sound the same, and I don't like that the women seem to hold back while dancing (despite the lack of male presence). I don't like the idea that the bride comes in after midnight, seemingly missing most of the wedding. When she does come in, she doesn't seem happy.

The bride last night had such a sadness about her and I couldn't help but wonder why? Why was her sister crying (I'm sure they were tears of joy but they just didn't seem like it)? Why didn't her sister hold her train, why were the workers tending to her dress? Why wasn't she smiling? Was she happy? Didn't she want her new husband there? Didn't she want to dance with him at least once to a really cheesy, cringe-worthy love song? So many questions, so many feelings of uneasiness, of misunderstandings on my part. So many whys and how comes at the wedding, in this country.

God knows best.

No comments: