My weekend didn't stop there. After sleeping most of the day away and washing the smoke out of my hair from the rave the night (morning?) before, I started searching for something - anything - that was appropriate to wear to an Egyptian wedding.
I think that I tried on every article of clothing in the whole apartment and then settled on the only dress that I had brought with me from Canada with some nylons and a sweater. I wasn't entirely sure what the dress code was, so I erred on the safe side and made sure that I wasn't showing too much skin. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, but I felt more comfortable being covered up as the only foreigner in the room - I didn't want to attract more attention than I already do ;)
One of the guys that I went to the rave with the night before invited me. His name is Baha'aeldin, but everyone calls him 'B'. A lot easier to pronounce ;) It was his friend's older sister who was getting married.
We arrived at the J W Marriott hotel at around 8:45pm and I assumed that we were already late. It was a beautiful hotel and made me feel a bit underdressed (understatement of the century haha). I met a bunch of B's guy friends, who were standing around the entrance of the event room.
There were a bunch of random instruments strewn about on the ground and I assumed that they had already been used and just left lying around, but turns out the reception hadn't started yet.
About half an hour after we arrived, people started gathering in the hall in front of the door to the hall and all of a sudden a huge crowd of people started moving slowly towards us as musicians started playing the instruments and a group of belly dancers started doing their thang.
The bride and groom slowly made their way down the hall surrounded by their loved ones, the belly dancers and the musicians. It was amazing to see - so much energy and sound to welcome the newly-married couple. B told me later that the religious ceremony, which is called 'writing of the book' in Arabic, takes place at a mosque a day or a week in advance and not necessarily the same day as the reception like we typically do in Canada.
After a bunch of dancing - at one point all the ladies danced around the bride and the guys around the groom (I stayed at a respectable distance since I hadn't yet been introduced) - we all made our way into the hall at the tables.
There was a big seat at the front of the hall for the newlyweds, with high tables for their bridal party and then big square tables for the rest of the guests around a dance floor that was lit up (the 'd-floor').
The dj played a song that all the guys at my table sang along with - B said that it was the 108(?) names for Allah - and then the couple came in to more applause and had their first slow dance. Afterwards, everyone joined in and danced around them - they were definitely the center of attention!
B had prepped me on our way there, telling me that it would probs be all Arabic music. I was fine with it, and actually recognized some of the songs. I almost died with happiness when they started playing Shania Twain's song 'From This Moment'. I started telling everyone that she was Canadian like me. No one seemed that impressed haha.
One of the guy's dates pulled me up to dance at one point and I asked her what to expect from the night. 'We dance, we take a break and eat, we dance some more and then halas - it's finished - and we go home'
It was the perfect summary I the night - after about an hour of dancing, the lights came on and everyone dug into a big buffet spread at about 10:30pm. Once we all had our fill, the lights dimmed and we danced some more until about 12:30am when the party was closed down.
Everyone was really nice. There were some times over dinner where the conversation was only in Arabic so I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but I always found a buddy who took pity in me and was willing to translate or speak English with me :)
Entrance to the room
I met the bride in the bathroom - typical female style - and helped her with her dress since one of the crinoline ruffles had come loose. Bonding moment fo sho.
I also went up to the front of the room for the flower toss. I kindly stepped aside for another two ladies to fight over the bouquet. As I walked back to the table, one of the guys said 'It's a good thing you didn't catch it. Those girls would have been all over you' haha I can only imagine the cat fight that would have broke out if I had caught it haha. Oof.
Did I mention that there was no alcohol served at the wedding? Cause there was none. Zilch. Nada. A bit of a surprise for me, but I rolled with it and drank tea instead ;)
Anywho, I have to say that I had a great time and was so honoured to be able to experience this type of cultural event. I feel blessed by my experiences in Egypt, and so grateful for the many people who want to share and explain their way of life. Loves it!