A beautiful and unique cultural and religious experience
An immense amount of research into the formalities of a muslim wedding, culture, the traditions, functions, heritage, delicacies and more. It was an honor to be able to experience my first ever Muslim wedding ceremony and reception, and be a part of Kainat and Aun's wedding day, even if it wasn't really planned for me to be their coordinator.
I was a last minute hire for Kainat and Aun, hired only a few days prior to the ceremony due to the original coordinator being sick. Honestly, this will likely forever be one of the coolest and most special of weddings that I was able to be a part of. I have always loved cultural wedding, mainly because I find the various cultures to be incredibly beaitufl and very different from mine. It is special to not just get to witness this ceremony, but play a role in Kainat and Aun becoming one. While Kainat answered and offered a lot of advice and guidance on her wedding prior to the day, I found myself doing a lot of research myself in order to understand the delicacy of attending a cultural wedding that I hadn't before. I wanted to ensure that I understood some of the traditions and was able to not only respect them, but also honor them, and participate fully.
Kainat Getting Ready:
While this is how Kainat got ready...how I prepared for their wedding was first in googling: "How do Muslim weddings differ around the world?" and "Things to know about attending a Muslim wedding". Many wedding sites like The Knot, Brides, and Zola had very helpful blogs, tips, tricks, timeline, and other resources for what you need to know, what you want to know, and how to interact and engage at the ceremony and reception.
Learning about the intricacies and special details and how they play a role in the culture, religion and heritage of being Muslim was a pleasure. One of the most notable and helpful pieces of advice I found is this:
"Muslim weddings differ based on regionality, this goes back to cultural and ethnic norms during a wedding. There may be some cultural and traditional nuances that take place, games or things that happen, whether it's South Asian, East Asian, North African, Arab, it all depends on the region. Some people take things from what their culture is, even if it doesn't have anything to do with Islam because it is just a way to celebrate the wedding and that's what makes it really beautiful that even though it is a Muslim wedding you can see it done so many different ways."
One of the first things I noticed about Kainat when she was finished getting ready was how much jewelry she was wearing and how incredibly beautiful it all was. There wasn't time or really the opportunity to ask what the significance of it all was, but in the aftermath, I found some great resources for explaining the reasoning behind certain pieces of jewelry and how they are selected, paired and styled.
"In Islam, marriage is considered a sacred contract between two families rather than just between two individuals. Because of this, the bride's family plays a significant role in the wedding itself. In Muslim cultures, it is customary for the bride's family to gift her with jewelry that she will wear on her wedding day. This jewelry makes the bride look more beautiful and symbolizes the family's love and support for her."
Aun arriving at the venue for the ceremony:
Detail Shots of Aun:
First Look and Bride and Groom Portraits Before the Ceremony:
This was an absolute pleasure to get to be a part of and a witness to. Before Kainat and Aun, the only multi-cultural weddings that I had experience in were Catholic and a Nepali (Hindu) wedding. I did research prior to the wedding and Kainat was very helpful in answering questions and explaining the different formalities of what I would witness. My main role was in setting up and ensuring the event flowed on time with the right people in the right places at the right time.
The formal ceremony included the Nikah/katb Al kitab (the signing of a marriage contract), if you scroll through the images below you will see this part of the ceremony.
Aun raising the veil and placing the ring:
This is one of the most beautiful and intimate pictures that I found in the album Kainat & Aun shared with me. I find it to be incredibly special that Muslim cultures spends so much time and puts so much detail into the henna markings on the bride, and loved when Kainat showed me Aun's name marked on her flesh.
Bride and Groom Portraits: on their stage when they were welcomed into their Walima/Valima (reception):
Reception Portraits & Tossing the Bridal Bouquet:
After some googling, I discovered that this part of the exit is called the Barnet Al-aroos. This is the couple's grand exit at the end of the wedding. Often wedding guests will follow the newlyweds in their own cars, honking and yelling in celebration as everyone heads back to the hotel. It was beyond cool to experience the exit which included the immediate family, then all guests following Kainat and Aun out of the reception to the getaway car. Then all the female guests lined up to hug Kainat prior to her exit. In the moment, I didn't recognize the signifcane of this moment, nor notice the focus on the bride, rather than on the couple as a whole. But when looking back at the pictures and video, I noticed much more than I did when being a part of it. This is an intimate moment for the bride, and makes a lot more sense when looking closer into Muslim culture and the relationships of women within the religion and culture
Overall, it was an honor to be able to coordinate Kainat and Aun's wedding for them. I learned a lot about coordinating, interacting with cultures different than my own, religious differences, and just so much about honoring what your believe and live by. This was a unique cultural and religious experience that I will never forget. Wishing Kainat and Aun so much love and joy in their future.
Venue: The Knotting Hill