Tag Archives: Egyptian Wedding

Here Comes the Bride and Groom

At Long Last!

TRAVEL THERE: LET THE PARTY FINALLY BEGIN

Of course, my nephew and his new wife did finally arrive at their own wedding reception and a party like you will not believe began.  Before I share the excitement, let me explain the delay.

The Big Moment – Delayed

The big moment at most wedding receptions is the entry of the bride and groom, but in Egypt they heighten the anticipation by not allowing anything to happen until the bride and groom appear.  That practice almost caused a riot when the newlywed pair failed to appear after a couple of hours.  The crowd settled down when snacks and some liquor appeared, but there was still an undercurrent of rumor around the ballroom.

Since we were in Egypt, I should have known traffic was the problem.  A few weeks ago I told you about the crush of traffic in the construction-clogged neighborhood of Heliopolis, but in spite of the wedding’s Heliopolis location, that wasn’t what caused the problem.  The guests who attended the ceremony made it back to the hotel in just a few minutes.

I’ve mentioned this was a holiday, the end of a long weekend, so many of the guests were traveling.  The plan had been for them to skip the brief wedding and show up just in time for the entry of the bride and groom into the reception.  Only the traffic was really bad and a large percentage of the people who really needed to be there were stuck on the road into Cairo.

Just about the time I was ready to gather up my broken shoes and head to the room for a good night’s sleep, my husband returned to the table.  I really wanted to chew him out for abandoning me, but I reminded myself that I’d been the one who said I’d just stay at the table.  I may or may not have told him that I was ready to go back to the room, but he let me know that the action was about to heat up.  The missing guests were arriving in droves and the newlyweds were making their way to the ballroom.

Fireworks and Applause

While the rest of us were just anxious to get on with the celebration, my grand niece’s and grand nephew’s anxiety had been about something else.  When the bride and groom appeared, the tiny wedding guests were to display a pair of signs about the last chance to run.  As the excitement level rose in the room, they were hustled near to the stage.  Since the wedding had already happened, the timing for the signs seemed a little off to this American, but this was Egypt and time has a whole different meaning there.

Then suddenly, the newlyweds were there – the beautiful bride and my handsome nephew.  I doubt any group of wedding guests has ever been more glad to see their newlyweds.  It was an astounding appearance!  A lightshow, fireworks – even canned applause.  You would have thought we were at the Olympics, but we were in a ballroom beneath the Heliopolis Fairmont.  The award for bride of the season goes to Mariam!

If More is Better Then this was the BEST!

As soon as Bassem and Mariam showed up the flood gates of hospitality opened.  Before too long a bountiful buffet was presented.  I swear we could have opened up the doors to every one staying at the Fairmont (both the older section and the Towers)  and still had leftovers for weeks.

There were two buffets, one for the main course and another for desserts.  There were also several specialty stations.  Problem was, my stomach had decided those few bites it got with the mezza was all it was going to get, so it had shut down for the night.  What I did manage to eat was great, but I couldn’t do justice to all those beautiful proteins, carbs and fats.

The dessert bar was unbelievable.  It stretched for what seemed like miles and had an amazing array of choices.  Any cruise ship would have been jealous.  In fact, I have to say that the actual offerings were better than any boat I’d been on.  The table wasn’t overcrowded with the decor some cruise ships employ, but the selections were top quality to match their great variety.

Starvation abated, it was time to dance- and dance we did.  The dj was great and pretty much every song was danceable.  Like most weddings, there were more kids and women dancing in groups than there were couples, but the energy was high.  Finally, I was not the only barefooted woman in the room.  My sweet husband obliged me, by taking me out to the floor a number of times, as did several of my nephews, cousins and such.  The groom spent a lot of time on the dance floor, but the bride could usually be seen enjoying her friends up on the white sofa in the lounge.

But the true highlight of any Egyptian party is the belly dancer and you’re going to have to come back next week for that.  I’ll leave you with a picture of me and my guys.

Blessed with Nephews!

 

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Egyptian Time Dragging By

Mommy, when will the bride and groom come?

TRAVEL THERE: WHERE ARE THE BRIDE AND GROOM?

In case you’re just joining us, let me remind you where we are.  I’ve just attended my first Coptic wedding, an amazing experience.  Now I’m sitting in the Pearl Ballroom of the Heliopolis Fairmont, waiting for the arrival of the bride and groom.  I didn’t join my husband as he went to work the room, because I had a broken shoe and didn’t want to wander around barefoot.  There is no food, no drink and no music, because nothing is supposed to happen until the bride and groom arrive.  Everyone around me is speaking a language I don’t understand.  I haven’t eaten since breakfast and we’re coming up on ten o’clock.  The adventure is wearing thin and my bed is beginning to sound pretty good to me.  The promised buffet and belly dancer aren’t as compelling as they seemed before.

Angry with No One to be Mad at

Don’t you just hate it when you find yourself growing madder with every minute that passes and you don’t even have anyone to blame.   Of course, Bill would be using the time to visit with old friends.  He didn’t tell me to stay at the table because my shoe broke.  I made that decision myself.  And who exactly could I blame for my broken shoe.  I chose them out of my large collection of shoes and I have no idea when or where I’d bought them.  It was no one’s fault but mine that I was the only woman in the room with slicked back hair.  My nieces had tried to get me to have my hair puffed up professionally.  I couldn’t blame anyone else for the fact that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  Who besides me decides to diet on a vacation to a wedding?  I couldn’t even blame anyone for the fact that they were all talking to each other in another language.  I’ve been married to Bill for over 20 years.  I’d had plenty of time to learn a little Arabic if I’d wanted to to.

Even without basic language skills I began to realize this wait was a little longer than the usual Egyptian wedding reception.  The blame for the delay was generously passed around.  Some said it was because the wedding was on a holiday and there wasn’t enough staff to take care of everything.  Some blamed the caterer, who was, by the way, out of town directing the whole thing via phone.  Some blamed the couple themselves for not coming down to join their guests and rumors of wild partying in the bridal suite spread out among the tables.  Some blamed the groom and his family.  Others blamed the bride and her family.  We didn’t have anything to eat or drink, but there was plenty of blame to share.

It Gets Better, But Not For Me

Beautiful Family – Bill’s sister and our grandniece

Because of the extreme wait, some changes to tradition were made.  Someone finally delivered a plate of mezza to the table. I wanted to grab it and find a corner to devour it in, but I played it cool. I had a couple of olives and a few bites of something else. Later I regretted my restraint. Everyone must have been as hungry as me, because every crumb disappeared almost immediately.

They also loosened up the liquor, but when the drinks finally did arrive, it was just scotch.  On the night before the wedding the bride juggled guests while the groom juggled scotch.  There was not going to be a bar or champagne. Mind you, they drink very good scotch, but that’s all they drink.  Bottles of the popular beverage enhancer were placed on the table in generous proportions, but I don’t drink scotch – at all. The room got friendlier and the blame for the delay got gentler.

I had to make do with Coke Zero.  It took so much effort to get a can of it, I dared not do more than sip, because I might never see another. I soon felt very much like the designated driver, only it didn’t come with any of the satisfaction serving that the role usually provides. I was just the only person in the room over four feet tall who was not drinking – and I was starving.

I learned from the four foot tall crowd that there was a sweets station.  It was cute, with cupcakes and candy, but no true cure for hunger.  Out of desperation I sampled some of the choices, but too much sugar when I’m hungry only gives me a headache and I hate wasting calories.  So I continued to suffer in silence.

Will the bride and groom ever show up?  Come back next week and find out!

 

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A Reception on Egyptian Time

Wedding Centerpiece

TRAVEL THERE: AND THEN WE WAITED

If the wedding was a departure from my norm, the reception was a rocketship to Mars.  I’ll try to explain it, but I doubt I can do it justice.

The Very Long Interlude

The bus ride from the church to the hotel only took moments.  We’d hung out on the church portico for a long time and I was glad to be starting the next phase of the celebrations, but I immediately ran into trouble – or perhaps I should say I tripped into it.  As if my lack of tendrils wasn’t enough of a humiliation, while I was going down the stairs to the ballroom, the sole of my strappy high-heeled sandal decided to part ways with the rest of the shoe.

Halted in my progress, I expressed my desire to change into another pair of shoes, but was dissuaded from it by one of my nephews.  He explained I didn’t want to miss the entry of the bride and groom.  Apparently he thought their arrival was imminent, but as I would learn before the evening was over, he was very wrong.  I was given the assurance that almost immediately the dance floor would fill with women who would also be barefoot.  That seemed reasonable, so I took off the shoes and carried them with me into the Pearl Ballroom.

Wedding Buffet

Let me just say the decor was amazing and beautiful.  In the first few moments I was awestruck and had a hard time processing it all.  Little did I know just how much time I would have to consider every single detail of the room.  And I might mention that I was starving.  I hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  I was saving calories for the huge buffet I heard would be coming.  However, right that minute I was so hungry I was wondering if my broken shoes might make a good meal.  They certainly weren’t serving any other purpose.

Perhaps you’re concerned about me being so hungry in a situation where adult beverages would be served.  Well, let me remind you.  there was to be no bar.  There was no champagne.  There was no signature cocktail.  Scotch is the wedding beverage of choice and for at least the first hour of the wait, there was nothing – because everything is supposed to happen at an Egyptian reception after the bride and groom enter.  Our bride and groom had disappeared and they stayed disappeared for a long time.  And they didn’t even have the excuse of picture taking to cover their absence, because back at the church, folks were by now setting up for yet another wedding after the wedding that followed our wedding.

American wedding traditions scored one on the Egyptians at this point.  Some couples handle it as Bill and I did.  We got our pictures ahead of time.  Bill and I beat everyone to the reception and greeted them as they came in – ushering them into the buffet.  Other couples, wanting post wedding pictures and the big entrance, have a cocktail hour complete with waiters wandering around with trays of treats.  I remember long awkward waits in the past, but between the cocktail hour and folks who get the photos out of the way early, we’ve sort of solved that problem.

The first hour of the wait passed pretty quickly.  Just taking in the set-up of the ballroom was an entertainment.  There were long dining tables and high cocktail tables; a glamorous lounge set up for the bride and groom; and a huge stage filled one end of the ballroom.  When that fascination wore out there were all those Egyptians in their wedding finery to watch.  Just as at an American wedding, there were kids entertaining themselves all around the room.  I was hungry and thirsty, my husband abandoned me in my shoe-less state to greet old friends, but I figured the wait would be over soon.  Come back next week and see how that went.

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