Muslim Wedding: Customs and Traditions | Wedding Planning

Everything you need to know to gear up for a Muslim wedding.

The thought of Muslim weddings brings to mind colorful and cheery rituals, the aroma of Biryani slow-cooking on dum wafting around you and of course, Nawabi grandeur! But the deeply spiritual occasion of a wedding is so much more than just a celebration in Islam! Exploring the intricacies of Muslim wedding traditions, we bring you the next installment of the Wedding Tradition Series: a kaleidoscopic guide to different regional cultures, spanning rituals, customs, fashion and more.

Photo Courtesy: Warrior and the Gypsy

As more couples from different cultures or even countries tie the knot, they all desire a beautiful blend of celebrations and festivities that would stay with them and their guests forever. Whether you are a bride or groom-to-be planning your wedding, or a guest invited to a friend’s big day, preparations for a celebration that is new to you can often get stressful. This wedding tradition series is aimed to answer all your questions about ceremonies and the meaning behind them, how to dress for different functions and unique aspects of the experience to embrace, traversing one culture at a time.

Welcome to the tranquil oasis of Muslim weddings!
Wedding Functions

Much like most other cultures, Muslim weddings are formalized with a Magni or engagement function. It marks a festive gathering of both families where the bride and groom exchange rings, and the families gift each other with dry fruits, jewellery and clothes.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Photo Courtesy: Sunny Dhiman Photography

Manjha (Haldi)
The equivalent of a Hindu Haldi function, this is an intimate home function where the bride is smeared with turmeric paste by all the female members of the family, for a bridal glow. The ritual is accompanied by music, dance and a whole lot of enjoyment. Traditionally, the bride is not to leave the house till the wedding day after this ceremony. The same function is held at the groom’s home separately.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Photo Courtesy: Little Miss Clo Photography

Held a day or two before the wedding, the Sanchaq custom marks a visit to the bride’s home by the groom’s family laden with gifts for the bride. This includes her bridal outfit, jewellery, perfumes and other gifts.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Photo Courtesy: Studio A By Amar Ramesh

Muslim Wedding traditions
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Once again, held a day or two before the wedding, the Mehndi function is an intimate function from the bride’s side, wherein the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with beautiful henna designs as her loved ones sing, dance and make merry. The groom’s initials are often woven into her patterns as a token of love.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Photo Courtesy: House on the Clouds

The groom arrives with a lively baraat, and is welcomed by the bride’s family with sherbet while rose water is sprinkled on his family. The Nikaah ceremony or the wedding then commences, officiated by the maulvi, for which men and women are seated with the groom and bride respectively separated by a curtain. The maulvi recites some verses from the Quran. The groom’s family offers the bride ‘Mehr’, an agreed upon token money to seek her consent for the marriage. The Maulvi then asks the bride if she accepts, by saying “Qubool Hai” three times in a row, and once she answers, he then asks the groom the same. The couple is then required to sign the ‘Nikahnama’, the official marriage contract that outlines all marital duties in the presence of two witnesses from each family. They then seek blessings from the elders of the families.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Photo Courtesy: Little Miss Clo Photography

Arsi Mushaf
A unique custom at Muslim weddings, this marks the first time the bride and groom lay eyes on each other on their wedding day, after having been separated by a curtain so far. They are made to sit side-by-side with a veil covering their heads and gaze upon each other’s reflection in a mirror kept before them by the Holy Quran.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Photo Courtesy: KnotsbyAMP

Akin to the Vidaai ceremony in Hindu weddings, Rukhsat is the farewell ceremony where the bride bids her family an emotional goodbye. Upon arrival at her new home with her groom, she is welcomed by the groom’s mother who gives her the Holy Quran to bless her new life as a wife.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Photo Courtesy: Nina Alam Makeup and Photography

The final function in a Muslim wedding, Walimah is a formal reception hosted by the groom’s family amidst great pomp and splendor. The couple is decked in finery and showered with gifts and blessings by the family and guests, and then the evening sees grand revelries and scrumptious food.

Muslim Wedding traditions

Things you are sure to see in a Muslim Wedding:
While a lot of Indian weddings share common cultural and ritual nuances, there are some quintessentially Muslim moments that you absolutely cannot miss at a wedding.

Unlike a dowry that was paid by the bride’s family and is an outdated practice today, the Mehr is a necessary formality in Muslim weddings. The groom’s family presents the bride with an agreed upon token money to seek her consent for the marriage, which she needs to accept to commemorate the marriage.

Gender Separation
An inherent part of Muslim weddings, the men and women in the gathering are separated for the duration of the wedding, accompanying the groom and bride respectively, with often a curtain drawn in between. While traditionally this extends to the dinner later as well, nowadays this is based on the couple and their families’ choice.

Sumptuous food
The dinner at a Muslim Wedding and Reception is a feast in the grandest sense of the word and includes rich meat dishes, fragrant rice preparations, delectable desserts and so much more. Of course, how can you forget the universally loved Biryani, which is reason enough to attend the wedding!

A unique aspect of Muslim nuptials is the marriage vows. Unlike Christian weddings where the couple reads out their vows to each other, and Hindu weddings where they repeat chants and mantras, in Muslim weddings, couples mostly listen to their Maulvi who speaks about their duties and responsibilities to each other in their marriage and to Allah.

Fashion tips to immerse in the culture.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Photo Courtesy: Sunny Dhiman Photography

Sharara and Gharara
The flared grace of shararas and ghararas exude a Nawabi charm that’s perfect to embrace for a Muslim Wedding. Style with embellished tonal kurta and dupatta for a demure, feminine look.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Muslim Wedding traditions

Photo Courtesy: ZehraGajani

Ivory intricacies
Unlike Hindu ceremonies which call for vibrant colors on auspicious occasions, soft, subdued palettes of ivory and cream look divine for Muslim weddings. Opt for embroidered, embellished anarkalis, lehengas or even sarees with pearl or polki jewellery for an ethereal look.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Muslim Wedding traditions

Photo Courtesy: The Wedding Story

Charming Chikankari
The Lucknowi elegance of intricate Chikankari work is a must-have in your wedding wardrobe. Team any soft hued ensemble with vintage jewellery and romantic makeup for a regal look.

Muslim Wedding traditions
Photo Courtesy: DNA India

Bling it up
No wedding is complete without a dose of Bling. Elaborate shararas or ghararas with shimmering designs are just what you need to dazzle.

Modest silhouettes
While there is no dearth of wedding fashion out there, it is important to keep in mind the cultural norms while attending a celebration. No matter what attire you choose, it is prudent to maintain modesty in Muslim weddings by avoiding deep necklines, cutouts or revealing designs. Instead, embrace the feminine allure of flared, flowy couture with exquisite detailing for an elegant and classy look.

Muslim Wedding traditions

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