The Middle Eastern Bridal Show Wedding Checklist.
While putting together the Middle Eastern Bridal Show, we’ve really dug deep for traditional wedding services. We started to seriously think about it as… ‘If this were my wedding, what would I want?’
Well, this is our informal list of must have’s if you are planning a Middle Eastern or Arabic Wedding..
Starting with the banquet hall. It’s a really great idea to find a place that is close to where you are having your ceremony. Other things you should consider is if your guests have certain dietary restrictions. You may want a facility that serves Halal or even Kosher foods. Try to find a venue that offers a Mazza with samples of tabouleh, baba ghanoush, or even pickled turnips.. You would probably hit a homerun if they served traditional main courses such as Filfil Mahsheh or even waraq dawaleh… Another option is to find a place that allows you to bring in outside catering. Companies like Masrawy Catering are booming due to the fact that a lot of the halls are serving the same old dishes.. Try and do your research well ahead of the wedding date so that you can get the most ideal facility and location.
The next thing on our list is the Photographer. I’ve seen a lot of people go to companies that sub out the photographer. The end result can be devastating! A photographer’s style is one of those things I feel you need to really look at closely. Some people come with years of experience, others put the camera on automatic and try taking as many shots with the hope they get a good image. The styles can really differ as well, some are “portrait style” photographers, some are “candid style”.. It’s best to try and book the photographer as early as possible as well. Try to get someone with a good track record (references!!).. Other things to consider is someone that understands our culture.. I’ve seen inexperienced photographers wander behind the altar in the church (a definite no-no).. If the lady or gentleman speaks your language, the service should run a lot smoother and fluid as guests that don’t speak English visiting from overseas may want to communicate things like “please take a picture with me and my sister” or “please wait, i am not ready to be photographed just yet”… Another thing to really look out for is who gets the rights to the images. In most cases, the photographer owns the right, but if you can negotiate (pay a little extra), you might just ensure your moments remain your moments…
The next thing you may want to consider is your entertainment (DJ or Band)? Well, this is definitely a personal preference.. Some people dream of the day the singer they have been following steps on-stage to perform in front of their families. Some figure that a DJ is the way to go as they can generally accommodate a wide variety of Arabic and English hits pleasing both the family and the guests that do not speak Arabic… Whatever your choice, i think reserving the “actual performer” is really important.. Different singers have different styles as do DJ’s.. The Middle East is a really big place (I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that). Some DJ’s for example are stronger with the English than Arabic. Or they might specialize in Egyptian styles as opposed to Lebanese dabkeh and dance. Or maybe they are all around strong in every genre? That is for you to discover. Once again, try to get referrals from family and friends. If you can see their work ahead of time, that is a bonus!
Limousines! What more can i say?? The prices really range from low to high.. Before you start shopping, think about how many people you are transporting.. How far are you going? and do you need the limousine all day or just a few hours?.. Now that you have thought about that; chew on this.. If the price is super low, what is the condition of the limousine? I’ve seen some “almost brand new – off the lot limos” and I’ve seen the “Monday Special”.. Trust me; you don’t want the “Monday Special”.. If you can see the exact vehicle (might not be possible), you can get an idea of what you are getting. As always, a good track record is crucial! Look for reviews or referrals from friends that have used the company.
Floral and Decor. Nothing can really transform your wedding as much as floral and decor. This is one of those things the brides seem to have figured out. if it were left up to the guys, I feel the hall would be empty and plain (not that there’s anything wrong with that :-).. Once again, you really want to see examples of the work and references are a must! Floral and Decor can really eat into your budget as well (factoring in any possible exotic/imported flowers and fancy backdrops). So once again choose wisely! A person with a deep understanding of our cultural uniqueness will pick up on the do’s and dont’s of placement and styles. A good way to save money (and the environment) is re-using the same arrangements for the ceremony as well as the hall. Renting the centrepieces can makes sense, and allows the guests to go home without “another vase”.
Videography. I am of the firm belief that everyone is specialized in what they do. Seldom do I see “all in one services” outperform “dedicated videography services” or even “professional photographers” for that matter.. The bar has been set very high in this field. Videographers are doing same day edits, shooting with $20,000.00 camcorders and have been spotted wearing some super trendy outfits that incorporate go-pro cameras for extra angles.. The service prices really range as well.. A good idea is to (as I have said before) look at the person’s work and get references.. Try to think about what portions of the wedding day you want filmed (this will help you select a package that best suits your needs). If the person is really good, it might be worth booking them for the whole day..
Traditional Performers – nothing says GRAND ENTRANCE like a Zaffeh! or how about something classic like a belly dance performance – Or maybe you need a traditional 3aradah!! Depending on the region of the Middle East, the performances can really vary. Groups go out and perform at 1, 2 and yes sometimes 3 different events on the same night.. Others are brought in from places as far out as London, Ottawa and (you guessed it Montreal). This is definitely an important piece of your wedding. So.. how do you know what to book?? Well, a good idea is to find a group with a style of performance that is similar to your background. For example a Lebanese zaffeh might incorporate durbakehs, tablas and outfits/dances that are specific to that region… The music for the entrance is vital! Try to see videos of their work and listen to the lyrics in the music they use..
Other traditions – I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.. Some traditions include the Henna (tattoo like art on the hands and arms), Tilbees Il Khawatem (exchanging of rings), Tijlaytil Aroussa (candle dance), Mahr (dowry) and last but not least the Zaghrouta! All of our traditions are beautiful, they help us keep our traditions, heritage and yes, identity…
You look stunning! You guessed it, we are about to cover the hottest topic on this page, THE WEDDING DRESS! (there I said it and seem to still be alive and unharmed).. Ladies know that the options are endless (sometimes so are the fittings). Lace or no lace? A little bling? or ton’s of bling????? Long train? or short train? covered arms? or sleeveless? Let’s just say that there are some things to keep in mind when shopping for this memorable treasure.
Firstly, when you try your dream dress on, it’s probably a good idea to demo the shoes as well. This will help you envision what the dress will look like.. In fact, it’s a good idea to try on all of your accessories with the dress. Items like your favorite necklace, designer hijab or crystal encrusted tiara should be demo’d as well.. Look for something that fits you well and is comfortable to wear. If the dress is too tight, you may not fit into it when the big day comes.. Get something practical and beautiful. And above all pick out what you like! Remember, it’s your day and people can sometimes be critical. Your inner beauty will always outshine your exterior dressings.
Have I missed any traditions? anything you would like to include or add? Post down below and stay in touch.
About the author.
Sam Jahshan is president and founder of Amar Entertainment