Lebanese weddings, whether held by Lebanese families in Lebanon or by the millions of Lebanese people in the diaspora, have many common characteristics that differentiate them from other weddings in the Middle East.
Lebanon is a country in the Middle East lined by Syria toward the north and east and Palestine toward the south, while Cyprus lies west across the Mediterranean Sea. The population of Lebanon is estimated to be 6.8 million while, possibly double that number of Lebanese people, live in South America, Australia, East Africa, the rest of the Middle East, and different pieces of the world.
Lebanon is best known for its beautiful nature and landscapes, its delicious cuisine, and its large pool of scholars, artists, and musicians. Its free-spirited Lebanese people are known for their ‘joi de vivre’ (cheerful enjoyment of life); their creativity in all walks of life and impeccable design skills that extend beyond fashion and interior design into weddings and other special events.
Lebanese weddings are mostly extravagant, but that’s not what differentiates them from other weddings in the Middle East, as you will also find a lot of extravagant weddings in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates(UAE), the State of Qatar, and others Arabian Peninsula.
So what characterizes Lebanese Weddings? What are the main elements of a Lebanese wedding that you will find in almost every wedding, whether you are in Beirut, Sao Paolo, Sydney, or Abuja?
Lebanese couples love a grand entrance into their wedding reception. Although nowadays this may include a laser show, lighting effects, and fireworks, no Lebanese wedding is complete without a ‘zaffe’.
The zaffe is a musical procession of drummers, bagpipers, and dancers that accompany the bride and groom into the wedding reception where the eagerly anticipating guests are awaiting the newlyweds.
A traditional Lebanese zaffe group could be a small group of 6 persons, but most often it is a much larger troupe. The zaffe could turn into an immense show execution of many male and female artists performing on an enormous stage in folkloric ensembles.
You could also expect to see a spectacular bride entrance where the bride would be mounted on what is called a ‘hawdaj’ and carried on the shoulders of the dancers or a horse carriage.
The Lebanese love to dance at weddings, young and old. Following the couple’s first dance you’ll find most of the wedding guests on the dance floor dancing to the tunes of famous Lebanese songs and other Arab and international songs. The highlight of the dance floor is normally the ‘Dabke’.
Dabke is traditional Lebanese dancing performed at weddings and other joyous celebrations. It’s a cultural symbol of Lebanon and deeply rooted in its folklore. Hand-in-hand guests line up to perform the Dabke, often forming a circle around the dancing bride and groom.
Lebanese cuisine is known around the world for its delicious mezze dishes (hummus, mutabal, baba ghanouj….) and its salads, such as tabouleh. And a big part of any Lebanese wedding is the delicious buffet spread of cold and hot mezza dishes, pastries, main meat, chicken, and fish dishes with, possibly, live cooking and carving stations. The icing on the cake is, of course, the scrumptious dessert buffet with its wide variety of Arabic and international sweets, cakes, desserts, and ice cream.
Once the bride and groom open the buffet, signaling the start of dinner, expect to see a line-up of wedding guests eagerly tasting these tantalizing dishes.
Lebanese people are fashionable. They know how to dress up and look amazing, particularly at formal celebrations such as weddings. From head to toe they are chic – from the hairstyle, the makeup, and the elegant evening gown, to the heels and the well-matched jewelry sets and fashion accessories, they are in tip-top shape.
The Lebanese are the trendsetters in the Middle East – if you want to know what the latest fashion trends are, attend a Lebanese wedding.
Whether a Lebanese wedding is a simple and intimate affair or a large and extravagant one, it certainly is a joyous festival with lots of music, dancing, tasty food, and well-dressed men and women.
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