Afghan weddings that are done today still have a great deal of the traditional celebrations mixed with a little of the modern revelry. Many customs that are centuries old are still being observed at these present times.
The first step in formalizing an Afghan wedding is the engagement. The father of the groom, with other elder members of his family, comes to the bride’s house to discuss the intention of the groom-to-be to marry the bride-to-be. They will bring gifts for the bride and other relatives and food will be served. If the marriage proposal is acceptable, plans will be made for the wedding, including the date, dowry, jewelry, wedding expenses and other necessities.
Before The Wedding
A day before the wedding, a “henna party” will be performed by the bride with her female friends and relatives. This is the ritual of having the bride hands and feet tattooed with a special ink called the henna. This ink will be provided by the groom’s family and will be delivered to the bride’s house by singing children. The henna party is an all-girls party, although the groom may appear for a short period of time.
The bride will also visit a salon on the wedding day or have a beautician visit her home to have her hair and make-up done. After this, the group will go back to the bride’s parental home and wait for the groom to arrive in procession.
The Wedding Dress
The type of dress worn at Afghan weddings may vary by culture based on the different ethnic groups. Many Afghan brides today still prefer to wear the traditional wedding dress made of silk or satin. The dress is called a sari, a type of wrap-around dress. Another type of wedding dress is called the Nikah dress, which covers almost the entire body of the bride and is very lovely.
The modern Afghan bride may select a dress that shows her bare shoulders and arms and with plunging neckline, but is made of the same materials that the traditional dresses are made of. The groom may also wear an outfit from the same materials and in the same fashion. A veil shall be worn by the bride to cover her face.
On the Wedding Day
On the day of the wedding, the groom’s family will host a big party for his male friends and the family members of the groom. Lunch will be served, along with juices and other beverages. Musicians are hired to play tambourines and there will be an afternoon prayer before the procession starts.
At the procession to the bride’s home, the groom will ride a decorated horse and the community folks and musicians will accompany him. When the procession has arrived, the wedding ceremony will begin. The couple will exchange vows in front of the priest or mullah, who will read verses from the holy book called the Qur’an. The bride and groom will then be led through a series of rituals during the ceremony.
The party begins after the ceremony. The guests will be served with traditional Afghanistan foods including three varieties of rice, authentic Afghan bread, and pudding, fruits of the season, fresh juices and desserts. The layered wedding cake will be cut and after the couple’s first taste of it, the cake will be distributed to the guests. There is non-stop music all throughout the party. The drinks, which is called sherbet is very popular and served at wedding receptions till the hearts’ content. Non-veg are part of any Afghan wedding reception.
When the reception ends, the couple will be led to their new home by a small group of friends and relatives. Either a goat or a sheep will be sacrificed upon the arrival of the bride. Before the bride enters the house, she will hammer a nail on the main door, to signify the strength of their relationship.
After The Wedding
Another Afghan wedding tradition will take place on the 3rd or 7th day after the wedding. A party will again be held for the female friends and relatives of the bride and they will each bring gift(s) for the new household. Mostly the gifts are furniture and dishes, to help the couple establish their new home.
The Boulevard room is designed to service small wedding receptions of up to 120 people