**No names, pictures of faces or anything of a personal nature has been included in an effort not to offend anyone**
This week I had the huge privilege of attending my first Muslim wedding here in Oman. That is a pretty big deal for a white, non Muslim, girl to be invited to such an occasion and see their way of celebrating a marriage. It feels almost like a secret society that you don't know what goes on unless you are actually in the fold.
The reason my invitation came about was because my land lady invited me to her nieces wedding, of course I agreed to go and I was very excited to be included.
Then my next problem, what on earth do I wear?! The ladies assured me that because it is only women at the wedding party that I could wear whatever I wanted, it could be as short or low cut as I wanted as no men would see us. But she did advise that everything is "the bigger the better", that sounds like a good motto live by so I'll go with that. I even tried looking up online what women wear but no such luck, it is a secretive thing so the men don't see.
I went with the tradition and got henna done on my hands:
It took about 20 minutes to apply the henna paste in a freehand design to both hands then I had to wait for an hour for it to dry. Believe me, It is a long hour waiting with your hands elevated whilst it dries, I even fell asleep at one point and woke myself up with a nodding head and then smudging it on my dress. I guess these traditions take practice.
I had been looking forward to the wedding for weeks but on the day I started to get very nervous worrying about things like would I do something stupid to offend someone, what if they didn't like me, was I going to be the only white girl there and stand out like a sore thumb?
I know that this sounds totally crazy but before I got dressed I applied a layer of fake tan...just one layer.. it makes me feel so much more confident and in this case I hoped that it would make me blend in a little more. I was self conscious about being so different. I am aware that many of these women consider white skin beautiful but to me darker skin is more beautiful, it is just a case of you want what you don't have.
This is my outfit for the evening, I chose understated over flashy as I wasn't sure what to expect. This nice peplum style dress was bought in the UK from Vanity Collections-
My new shoes from Aldo and a cute ankle bracelet.
My bag given to me by my friend Kay and my henna'ed hands.
I'm not exactly sure how the actual Muslim wedding works, how long the celebrations are or anything about whether it was an arranged marriage or not and I wouldn't want to comment for fear of offending anyone's culture. But this party I attended was the part only for the Bride and her female guests, there was not one man in sight, not even the new husband.
The party was held in one of the big hotels in Muscat and it was clear that there was no expense spared, this was a big occasion! It makes my small wedding look like a cheap child's party! My seat was right next to the brides grandmother who is the head of the family, this is an honor to be sat with the family at such an occasion and it made me feel more relaxed.
The whole room was decorated with hundreds of white flowers, sparkles and impressive center pieces.
This was the dance floor and stage before the crowds arrived, there were a good few hundred women there. The chair on the stage is where the bride sits once she arrives.
An elaborate buffet was served and there was almost every kind of food that I could think of and it was delicious. The food made a nice change from the rubbish Stovies served at midnight back home in the UK, I hate that.
This was my dinner- I had lasagna shrimp, salad and pasta. Then on my pudding plate I had fruit, chocolate pudding, apple pie and meringue. The Omani's sure do love their grub!
I was honestly amazed seeing the Muslim women once they take off their robes and headscarves, they were so beautiful and obviously had taken so much pride in their appearance. I wish that I could show you what they looked like but I'll just have to try and describe it. Weddings are obviously a big deal as they wore VERY expensive gowns, everyone had their hair and make up professionally done and the henna on their hands.
My Muslim friends were not joking when they warned me "the bigger the better". I looked like a scruff next to some of these girls, they were so beautiful but you don't often see it because they are so covered up.
A wedding is a great opportunity to literally let their hair down and go a bit wild without the men around. We did alot of dancing and it really was great fun, I am a horrible dancer as I just don't have the rhythm but I had good fun trying. Some of the girls were doing the Beyonce butt shaking kind of dance and others could belly dance and pop their hips, I was in awe!
My first experience of a Muslim wedding was great and I was delighted to be part of it :-)
PS- For more information on Muslim weddings you can check out a really cool blog I found called "How to live like an Omani Princess"