This past weekend I attended my first ever Lebanese wedding. In fact, I would say this is the first time that I have been to a wedding that is not Pakistani. And with the exception of a few Pakistani friends’ weddings, the majority of Pakistani weddings that I have been to, have been a let down. They have either been too reserved, unorganized, segregated or worse, all of the above. It was so refreshing to be a part of a union filled with family, love, great music, laughter, lots of fun and delicious food. The following are a few of the many reasons why I believe you need to attend a Lebanese wedding sooner than later!
Reason #1: An Elaborate Zaffa (Wedding March)
Now, I hadn’t really known much about zaffa until after the wedding, so let me prepare you! Zaffa is the entrance of the bride and groom to the reception hall where the guests are awaiting anxiously to see them together for the first time since their official union. It is a march consisting of loud music, cheers and dancing in celebration of the newlyweds. The Zaffa at the wedding I attended was very entertaining and elaborate! It started with a skillful group dance which was accompanied by loud music and talented drummers, wielding giant round drums around their necks. Everyone clapped and cheered with the live singer as the bride and groom danced in celebration.
The bride and groom were lifted in the air near the end of the zaffa as they danced in excitement with family members and close friends. At this point, I was one of the on-lookers because I believe only family members and close friends are a part of the zaffa (I could be wrong). However, everyone remained standing for the entirety of the zaffa (so as to not miss out on any of the excitement).
Nevertheless, even from where I was standing, I felt like I was a part of the wedding march and it was very entertaining and fun to witness such an action-packed entrance. It really set the mood for the rest of the night.
Reason #2: Delicious Food
I believe, the way to a person’s heart is through his/her stomach. If there is one thing that you can take away from a wedding, it is the quality of the food served. Immediately after the bride and groom had taken their seats on the beautiful stage, the food was served. It was such an organized set-up, no getting up to get your food, (which by the way is common in Pakistani weddings, at least the ones that I have attended) and no one left behind. The RSVP invites required you to pick a meal between vegetarian, chicken and lamb. I would normally go for vegetarian because most people don’t have halal meat options, but I was delighted to find that they were in fact serving halal meat. I love lamb but it can hardly be done right by so few people and in the past I have regretted that option, so I stayed safe and chose chicken.
Of course I had no regrets with my decision and also no time to snap pictures of the delicious food but, it was absolute perfection. My friend Aaron (in pictures below) went with the lamb so I got to try it. I got the best of both worlds because I took more than was offered from his plate!
Soon after the entrée was served, the bride and groom cut the cake, the dessert was put out for everyone to help themselves, as/when they please. Although I didn’t have a piece of the cake, (not sure if anyone did, it was too beautiful to touch) but I definitely helped myself to the lavish desserts surrounding the cake on either side. There were beautifully decorated cupcakes, Patchi chocolate (which by the way is the best chocolate in the world, and it’s Lebanese), macarons (my personal favourite), cream puffs and many other options.
Reason #3: Beautiful Venue + Intricate Details
While driving up to the venue parking lot, I was pleasantly surprised at the location. It was at the Ambassador Golf Club in Lasalle, so you could expect to see green for miles, which was exactly what I saw when I entered the back (outside) area of the venue. How had I never heard of this place before? The inside was just as beautiful and the reception hall was decorated to perfection, with the ideal amount of everything: fresh flowers, chandeliers, drapery, candles, and a beautiful backdrop for the bride and groom’s seating area. I was absolutely obsessed with the personalized name tags at everyone’s designated seats (pictured above between the cake and dessert pictures).
I think the option to go out when you felt and still not miss out on the fun inside was a blessing. The venue was mostly covered with large windows that looked out to the golf course, so you weren’t missing the action, inside or out. A lot of guests took the opportunity to snap some personal pictures. I made my friend pose and take pictures as well (he was happy to oblige) and I appreciated his abundance in white boy jokes.
Reason #4: Fun and Loud Music
I knew that this wedding was going to have loud Arabic music, and I was so happy about that and completely prepared. There was a point in my past where I was obsessed with Arabic music and I bet you I could still sing along to some of Melhem Zein’s and Wael Kfoury’s tracks. If somehow nothing else makes you feel like you’re at an Arabic wedding, the music definitely does the job. For the night, I felt captivated and teleported into this amazing place where all you hear is laughter, delightful Arabic chatter and beautiful Arabic music – a surreal feeling.
Reason #5: The Dabke and Endless Dancing
From the moment the bride and groom entered the reception hall until the very last moment, the dancing did not stop! I probably danced the least out of everyone, (with the exception of some old aunties and uncles) and I had to take numerous breaks and eventually had to tie my hair back. The dancing portion after the main course was commenced by a heartwarming father and bride dance. It was extremely emotional and melted my heart because she lip synced to her father. It was beautiful. And just as heartwarming was the mother and groom dance which followed. After which everyone was invited to the dance floor for a slow song and a lot more upbeat Arabic tracks.
The dabke, which is a traditional Arabic dance, was one of my favourite parts – even though my level of expertise landed me in the back end of the group, I still had a great time brushing up my skills. It also helps if your friend is an exceptional dancer and he can sway you around on the dance floor. It was a lot fun and for the first time I wore comfortable heels to keep me up all night which didn’t need to be removed. There was a mix of Arabic, top 40 and classics playing all night and everyone had a grand time.
Congrats to the beautiful couple Tarek and Sara, wishing you a long and happy life together (InshaAllah)! If attending a Lebanese wedding is not likely in your near future, then I hope that this post teleported you to one. What was your favourite wedding experience? Let me know, comment below!