In Lebanese culture, wedding celebrations are large, with a typical crowd of 500 to 800 people. In Edmonton, this means that Top 40 Under 40 alumna Wedad Amiri often has invites to multiple weddings on one day.
With so many weddings to attend, Wedad once found it difficult to find even one fashionable, formal and appropriate dress to wear. Knowing that this was a problem for most of the women in her community, she started the brand, Afflatus Hijab. “I wanted to make more fashionable options, for Muslim girls to feel comfortable and look beautiful, or anyone who wants a more modest dress. Women want to wear something different to weddings a week apart in the same community.”
Wedad’s own wedding was considered small, with only 350 guests of immediate family and friends. On the day of the wedding, she and her husband, Adnan Elladen, got ready in their homes with their own families, then Adnan picked her up with his family and friends and returned to his home, symbolizing her joining his family. The couple was already legally and Islamically married, as the formal ceremony takes place during the engagement party, which can occur anytime from the day of the wedding, to months before it.
Wedad says that every Lebanese bride wears a white dress, with appropriate modest alterations if required. The bride and groom’s family will give her a significant amount of gold jewellery to wear — a tradition that stems from the giving of a dowry. New pieces are purchased specifically for the bride, but heirloom jewellery with sentimental value is also passed down. Wedad says that while some brides will buy fancier hijabs for their wedding, the current style is a simple, white hijab. For women who wear hijabs, dupattas or other head coverings, it is now popular to have it styled as part of the bridal ensemble. In Edmonton, Nahda Elladen offers styling services through her business, Pin & Flow, that include pinning hijabs in stunning patterns, and incorporating jewellery and veils with the head covering.
Once the wedding festivities begin, the reception includes speeches, a large dinner, and lots of Arabic and Dabke dancing. Similar iterations can also be found in Greek and Italian cultures, and 800 people makes for quite the party.