7 Lebanese Wedding Traditions That You Might Not Know

Traditional marriage between a man and a woman has been a cornerstone of our society for centuries. This union celebrated from ancient times brings two people together under an array of customs and traditions that bring a certain flavor to our Lebanese wedding .

The Lebanese Wedding

If there is something the Lebanese love to do is celebrate. We celebrate practically everything, yet there is one event that we celebrate that is given more importance than any other, il 3iriss (the wedding).

On the wedding day, the groom “el 3ariss” and groomsmen stay behind at church or at the party venue to await everyone. The future-in-laws present the bride “el 3arouss” at her home a gift (like a dowry) usually it is a gold necklace for her to wear on the day. The gift is presented in front of everyone. As they are leaving her home, the women from both families will give her their blessings with chants and jubilation sounds called zalghouta.

Also known as the act of ululating, the zalghouta is practiced all the over the Middle East and in some parts of Africa. An ululation is a high-pitched tongue trill, a physical skill that involves the throat and tongue. It is a distinct ability and not many people can hit such high notes. The Lebanese zalghouta is different from the others because it is not limited to the act of ululating. Instead, there are a few verses before the loud cry. These verses usually compliment the bride and groom, highlighting their beauty, family, and good manners. The bride will leave her home with the joyous chants of “Ah Weeeee-ha,” and “Lilililililililililililili” as the elations fills the air crowning the bride with happiness.

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Lebanese Marriage Culture

With streets closed-off by the presence of villagers, on-lookers from balconies and porches, entire neighborhoods become part of the celebration by throwing rice, candy-coated almonds, and flower petals on the bride and groom’s accompanying family, as a symbol of good health and prosperity for the couple. Rice is a symbol of fertility and a wish for prosperity and a full pantry.

One of the Middle Ages wedding traditions was to bang pots, ring cowbells, and generally make a lot of disturbing noise after the marriage ceremony in order to ward off evil spirits. This custom has been replaced in Lebanon with the honking of the procession of cars following the bride to the reception. To our days you can hear the honking of the convoy of cars in the streets of Lebanon as family and friends escort the bride to her groom.

The zaffé, a Middle-Eastern trademark, dating back to the 14th century, is the customary way in which the bride and groom are escorted from their respective family homes to the ceremony location. It represents a celebratory event in which music, dance, and public participation are at its core. While the zaffé has been used to escort very important figures in all types of social and political domains, the most memorable zaffés are those that create an ambiance of joy and unison experienced during weddings. The wedding starts with two parties, one in the groom’s home and one in the bride’s home and ends at the venue where the bride and groom walk behind the zaffé for the first time in front of everyone as husband and wife. If the wedding lacks a Zaffé, which is never the case, a wedding is still not considered complete.

Classical Lebanese belly dancing

Classical Lebanese belly dancing is often performed at the wedding reception and is part of the entertainment. It symbolizes the transformation of the bride into a sensual woman.

The wedding cake tradition goes back many centuries to ancient times, originally representing fertility. Ancient Romans would make the cake of wheat or barley (both present in Lebanon). Though the actual procedure is unclear, the custom was to break it over the bride’s head as a symbol of her fertility, which has been replaced with the bride and groom cutting a wedding cake. They cut the cake together, his hand over hers, symbolizing unity, their shared future, and their life together as one. The wheat used to bake the cake was symbolic of fertility, and the sweetness of the cake was believed to bring sweetness to the couple’s new life.

In our culture, the marriage ceremony ends with the bride and groom exchanging a kiss after the cutting of the cake. From ancient times to the modern-day, the wedding kiss symbolizes for all people everywhere the physical uniting of two souls. One interpretation is that when the couple kisses, they exchanges spirits with their breath, and part of each one’s soul left to abide in the other affirming their being soul mates.

Here comes the bride

After the wedding, the groom’s family invites the bride’s family for a big lunch or dinner. After that dinner, the bride’s family invites them back, all in all, more opportunities to have a good time.

If the bride steps on a single girl’s foot it is believed that it will bring her luck and that she is going to marry soon. From the earliest times, brides have worn flowers in their hair and carried bunches of flowers. Flowers symbolize fertility, purity, new life, and never-ending love.

Finally, It is widely believed that the first examples of wedding rings were found in ancient Egypt. Relics dating back as far as 6,000 years ago, including papyrus scrolls, show evidence of braided rings of hemp or reeds being exchanged among a wedded couple. Egypt viewed the circle as a symbol of eternity, and the ring served to signify the never-ending love between the couple.

7 LEBANESE WEDDING TRADITIONS

Lebanese weddings are all about having fun and making a statement and the wedding reception is the finale to the entire process. These weddings require great food, a great venue, and plenty of partying. If you have been invited for the first time to a wedding in Lebanon, you should not assume that you’ve seen it all.

Fireworks

The Lebanese love fireworks and it is very traditional in Lebanon to have fireworks at a wedding reception. So, if you’re attending a Lebanese wedding for the first time, be prepared for an explosion of fireworks over your head which usually starts at the cutting of the wedding cake by the newly-weds.

Speaking of big bangs, it’s very traditional in Lebanon to have fireworks at a wedding reception. Done by professionals, there’s no reason why you can’t have internal fireworks at the beginning or end of your night.

Lebanese zaffe

The Lebanese zaffe makes the wedding reception a truly extravagant Lebanese wedding and is a highly-anticipated part of the celebration. This extravagant warm-up to a big party is when the bride and groom make a grand entrance to the church surrounded by drummers and professional zaffe dancers.

They then continue to dance on the floor, while their guests are around them clapping and being entertained. A venue that can be flexible around their timetabling to allow for these traditions is essential. It’s also important that you have a venue that is happy to include, and a seat outside entertainers.

Fine dining

Lebanese wedding catering plays a key role as food is one of the most important elements of a Lebanese wedding celebration. Whether it’s a mezza, which is multiple platters of delicious food, or a 3-course sit-down meal, you can guarantee that all Lebanese weddings will have a scrumptious feast.

High energy and lots of dancing

There is no Lebanese wedding without dancing as these weddings are all about celebrating the whole night. Hence the wedding venue selected should have great ideas on making sure everyone gets on the dance floor and have a good time. In most instances, there are belly dancers to perform as well.

Dramatic photoshoots

A lot of pictures of the couple are must-haves for a Lebanese wedding, and they are often in a garden or other outdoor setting. On a sunny, weekend day, it is common to see Lebanese couples posing in parks with their photographer for countless upon countless photos.

The wedding cake

Another common Lebanese wedding tradition is cutting of the wedding cake with a sword by the couple. Extravagant Lebanese weddings could be an understatement when it comes to Lebanese wedding cakes, with some easily reaching 9 layers, or even more.

A long night for the bride and groom

While many cultures around the world send off the newlyweds before the wedding ends to the bridal suite or to their honeymoon, at a Lebanese wedding, the bride and groom are expected to stay at the wedding reception until every guest has made their exit. Leaving before the guests are considered rude or disrespectful.

If you would like to know more about our weird Lebanese customs, then make sure to check out this link!

6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU’RE MARRYING A LEBANESE MAN

There’s a saying that if you Marry a Lebanese man, you Marry his entire extended family. So, if you find yourself dating a handsome Lebanese fellah, here are six things you need to know before you tie the knot (from our very own Lebanese writer)!

Be Prepared For a Whirlwind of Events

If you’re Marrying a Lebanese man, you won’t only be celebrating and planning your wedding, the girl! Be prepared to plan the engagement party, the kitchen tea, your hens night, the laliyah (pre-wedding party), and, of course, the big day – and each event is bigger than Ben Hur!

Your Family’s About to Get Bigger

No matter what nationality you Marry, you will automatically become part of another family, but, when your Groom is Lebanese, be prepared to join a very large (and very extended) family. This family will envelop you with love (and some amazing food!), but they’ll also probably make a lot of decisions about your Wedding day on your behalf… They’ll also likely pop over for a visit unannounced at all times of day and night, but the plus side is that they’ll probably bring over a cooked meal and do a load of laundry for you while they’re there!

You’ll Be Dancing All Night Long

From the moment you say your vows, be sure you have your dancing shoes on because the party starts straight away! There will be non-stop music, zalghouta, loads of dancing, and a tribe of drummers all night long! If you’re worried about your feet getting sore, have a sneaky pair of flats to change into if needed.

There Will Be Cars

Boys love their toys! So, just a heads-up that you WILL have the best of the best Wedding cars escorting you to the church and the wedding venue. Oh, you might also have a brocade of super sleek motorbikes escorting you too. Get ready for loud engines and horns beeping!

Boy Bonding

As much as your future Lebanese hubby loves you, he will still have a big love for his mates, so, be prepared to regularly having a plethora of young (and old) men swing past your new home for a card game of 400 or to watch the Friday night footy!

Wifey Material

Once you’ve become a Wedded wifey, get ready to spoil your man with morning cuddles, fresh laundry, and delicious meals! If you’re not sure your cooking skills are up to scratch, don’t worry, your new mother-in-law will give you the 101! Get ready to embrace yummy recipes for tabouli, kafta, and all things Lebanese (trust us, you’ll be addicted to the food)!

So fairies, whether you’re Lebanese or you’re Marrying a Lebanese man, rest assured that this culture will make both your Wedding Day and the rest of your life a whirlwind of partying, dancing, eating, drinking, and <most importantly> love!

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