Weddings

20 things you’ve totally seen if you’ve ever been to an Arab wedding

When your mom introduces you to her aunt's cousin's wife's daughter's sister-in-law and you have to pretend you know who she is.

Arabs often disagree on a lot of things, whether that’s politics, traditions, or whose fatoosh (bread salad) recipe is better. But one thing they can all agree on is that Arabs definitely know how to throw a wedding party. If you’ve ever attended an Arab wedding (yours or someone else’s), you know the following list of instances are unavoidable.

1. When your mom wakes you up really early to get ready, but the wedding doesn’t even start till 8:00 pm.

little girl crying and resting head on bed
Image description: A little girl is crying in her bedroom and rests her head in frustration on her bed. 

We all know Arab weddings don’t usually start until the sun goes down, so why do mothers always insist on getting our hair and makeup done six hours in advance?

2. When your mom introduces you to her aunt’s cousin’s wife’s daughter’s sister-in-law and you have to pretend you know who she is.

girl gives fake smile GIF
Image description: a brunette gives a fake smile and nods at someone as she pretends to understand what they are saying. 

You always end up being forced to awkwardly talk to someone who knows every detail about your life, but you have no idea who they even are.

3. When all your relatives come around to the single women and say “inshallah we’ll be at your wedding next.”

bored over it GIF by Originals
Image description: an old woman sits on a chair with an unimpressed and tired look as she stares at the floor. 

Even though your internally cringing, you have to politely smile and nod at all the people who come up and say that to you throughout the night.

4. When you ask your close cousins, “Does anyone know when the buffet starts?” Because everyone knows we’re mostly here for the food.

hungry boy ready to eat GIF
Image description: a young Kyle Massey grabs the front of his sweatpants and exclaims, “I’ve got on my eating pants.” 

Arabs always go all out when it comes to the wedding buffet. Always expect to find over at least a dozen different dishes from each Arab country.

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5. When random old people come up to you and ask “Whose daughter are you?” but you already heard they’re bride-hunting for their son.

man moving his finger to say no GIF
Image description: a South Asian man waving wagging his finger to say “no” with an angry expression on his face. 

When the older relatives won’t leave the single girls alone even when you drop a million hints about how uninterested you are in their sons.

6. When overly excited aunties force you to dance, no matter how many times you tell them you’re horrible at it.

woman dancing badly GIF
Image description: a drunk woman dancing horribly at a party with a drink in her hand. 

You always end up looking like a fool, but they just love making all the sabaya (young women) show off their moves.

7. When the couple makes their grand entrance and you can’t help but get emotional.

man with tears in his eyes GIF
Image description: an old man sobbing and placing his hand on his mouth to help him control and hide his emotions. 

When you see the way the couple looks at each other and can’t help but want that for yourself one day.

8. When your sibling asks if you want to go get seconds at the buffet with them.

woman holding back tears gif
Image description: Oprah Winfrey nods with tears in her eyes and places her hand on her chest. She is clearly moved by something someone said or did. 

We all know there’s nothing more awkward than going for seconds alone, so it’s always nice when someone offers to go with you.

9. When the waiters bring out the wedding cake and it’s five layers high with three different flavors.

kid excited over cake GIF
Image description: a little boy at a birthday party screams in excitement with a group of other children. 

You have to try all the flavors otherwise it would just be rude!

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10. When all the cousins look so good you have to take a squad photo.

group of men posing for photo GIF
Image description: a group of three young men pose for group photos in front of a painted wall. 

All fifty of your cousins group together while the parents whip out their phones and try to take as many photos of all of you as they can.

11. When the DJ won’t stop playing shik shak shok. 

woman screaming out "enough" GIF
Image description: Rebel Wilson screams “enough” in an auditorium. This gif was taken from a scene from the movie Pitch Perfect.

I know it’s not the DJ’s fault that someone keeps asking them to play it, but for God’s sake, the rest of us would like to dance to something else!

12. But then your song finally comes on.

arab dancing around GIF
Image description: three men dressed in traditional Arab clothing dance in the middle of a group of other Arab men who are playing Arabic drums. 

You bring out all your good moves as soon as the DJ plays your jam.

13. When the wedding videographer comes around just when you’ve finished stuffing a spoonful of food in your mouth.

girl stuffing her face with food GIF
Image description: Amanda Bynes from the movie “She’s the man” sitting at a table at an event. She scoops up her food and holds a cooked chicken’s leg with her mouth already full of food. 

Excuse me, sir, I’d like to have my photo taken after I’ve finished swallowing my food.

14. When you can see your relatives analyzing everyone’s outfits to see who’s the best dresser.

man checking someone out and being impressed GIF
Image description: Jesse Williams in a scene from “Grey’s Anatomy” showing an impressed look with a nod of appreciation as he looks at something in the distance. 

You know by the way they’re looking at everyone’s outfits that they’re bringing their claws out tonight.

15. When an auntie introduces you to her ugly son instead of the really hot older one you had your eye on.

confused girl GIF
Image description: a little blonde girl sitting in a car looks side to side with a confused expression on her face. 

You end up getting stuck in a conversation with him and have to send eye signals across the room to your siblings to come save you.

16. When you’re trying to get that tabouleh out of your teeth without anyone noticing.

woman picking out food that's stuck in her teeth GIF
Image: a woman tries to discretely pick out food that is stuck in her teeth while standing in a kitchen. 

Never. Ever. Eat tabouleh at a wedding. Or any place where you’re forced to keep smiling.

17. When the bellydancers arrive and all the men circle around them to watch.

woman rolling her eyes GIF
Image description: Judge Judy, from the reality show named after herself, rolls her eyes in frustration in a courtroom. 

If you ever see any men running up to the dance floor, just know that the belly dancers are busting out the moves.

18. When you come out with five Instagramable posts by the end of the night.

excited woman clapping GIF by Originals
Image description: a young woman sits around people as she claps and cheers in excitement. 

Now you know the five hours of getting your hair and makeup done weren’t wasted on nothing.

19. When you’re forced to sit at the kiddie table no matter how old you get.

girl sighing in frustration GIF
Image description: a young Candace Cameron-Bure in a scene from “Full House”  where she sighs in frustration. Her bangs fly in the air as she exhales. 

Until you get married and have your own kids, you’ll always be seated at the ‘kid’s table’ at weddings.

20. When the nights over and you’re struggling to walk back to your car after a long night of dancing in heels.

deer slipping on ice GIF
Image description: an animation of Bambi from the Disney movie struggling to stand on all four legs as he walks on ice. 

This is the moment you regret wearing five-inch stiletto heels instead of the comfortable wedges your mom bought you.

Tamara Abueish

Tamara Abueish

Intersectional feminist majoring in Journalism and Women's Studies at the American University of Sharjah. When she isn't running the Women Empowerment Club at her university, she enjoys reading, watching movies and going to the beach with her friends.

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