Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Afghanistan Wedding #1 - Country Themed (Green, Red and White) Wedding

''Afghanistan'' Themed Wedding:
A great way to show case any country's beauty is to have a wedding outside. The snow-capped Kohi Baba mountains (image available hereand most of the Landscape in Bamiyan Valley (image) are beautiful choices to use as a backdrop for any wedding especially since it is a ceremony for family and friends to enjoy and the marriage has already been made official.
In Afghanistan, Dari (Persian) is the language spoken by the majority of people, there are over thirty other languages spoken however after Pashto, Uzbek and Turkmen the number of people that speak a different language is less than five percent. Even if the couple, or the majority of the guest don't speak one of the languages of the country adding some element with the language may be a great way to incorporated the country into the wedding.

The Flowers:
(Red Tulips Wedding Bouquet with Cranberry Ribbon. Picture found at: Sarah's Flowers Wedding Blog)

According to Wikipedia the floral emblem of Afghanistan is the tulip. Tulips come in many different colours and can be used for any colour scheme wedding. The flag of Afghanistan (Flag) is black, red and green, with white highlighting the emblem in the middle. Red tulips with banana leaves, or just their own tulip leaves, some baby's breath and a black ribbon handle would be a great way to incorporate all the couples into a bouquet, or black and red tulips with and green leaves, either way the colour of the flowers will decided the colour scheme of the entire wedding. Tulips can cost anywhere from fifty cent a flower to two dollars a flower depending on peak seasons and availability also, some florist try to convince their customer to stay away from the tulip because they are said to not hold up as well as other traditional roses. (The image above is of artificial flowers and though the company is based in the UK, it may be the solution to any trouble that may come from using tulips in a bouquet.)
(Red Tulip Boutonniere Photo by: Jamie Hammond Photography; found at: The Knot)

The Dress: 
A tradition wedding dress in Afghanistan depends on what part of the country the bride/groom is from.   An Afghan bride may where two different dresses on her wedding day, the Islamic green dress (Great examples of dresses from Afghanistan, though maybe not for a bride, they are very beautiful examples.) would be first and than the ''Fairy-tale'' white dress would be afterwards. However, there are some brides that choose to dress in all traditional Kuchi dresses or all white ''Western'' style dresses.When the bride chances is up to the couple or tradition, however usually the change happens after the Nikah (the ceremony) or after the meal. (If the couple is having a traditional wedding because they are from Afghanistan or share the Afghan faith than when changing may very depending on tradition.) The best way to stick as close to Afghan tradition as possible would be to buy the Islamic (or ceremony) dress at a local shop, as for the ''Fairy-tale'' white dress that can be purchased anywhere and brought over. The key to the perfect wedding dress(es) is to find ''The One''.

The Shoes: 
Shoes should be glamourous enough to match the brides dress, but in a traditional Afghan wedding a male relative of the groom sacrifices a sheep, or chicken near the bride and smear some blood on her shoes.  ''The ceremony signifies there things: 1) The bride now belongs to the grooms family; 2) She is now clean of evil spirits she may be bringing into the family; 3) She is pure.'' (Tradition)

Make up, hair, nails, and accessories:
The best look for any wedding day, Afghan or other wise to go look natural. Most Afghan brides wear a veil of some sort. It is said that when a wedding was arranged, the first time a husband would see his wife's face would be in the reflection of a mirror after lifting the shawl (or veil). When wearing a veil the best hair styles are always to have the hair down and flowing if that is possible. Afghan brides also have a Henna Night, usually the night before their wedding. This is somewhat a bachelorette party. Henna is a red dye that is usually presented by the mother, aunt, and/or sister(s) of the groom. The bride will close her hands and the mother of the groom will try to get her future daughter-in-law to open her hands by presenting or promising her a gift, or the groom may try to open her palms by force. The mother of the groom will take a teaspoon of henna and place it in her soon-to-be daughter-in-law's palms and cover it with triangular cloth. This is to replicate the historical tradition of making little incisions into the bride and groom's hand so they would be forever joined in blood. In turn the mother of the bride will place the henna on the groom's pinkie finger and cover it with cloth. (According to the Wikipedia entry Afghan Wedding). The rest of the henna is passed around to the unmarried girls, and who every gets some henna on their pinkie finger is said to be the next to marry.

The Groom:
Most Afghan grooms wear traditional Afghan clothing (shawar Kameese) in either all white or all black with a decorative vest and matching hat or turban. The groom and bride dress to match, so when the bride is in her white dress the groom is in a suit; when the bride is in her traditional Afghan dress, the groom will be in his Afghan clothing. (Big Thanks to Afghan Wife!)

The Invitations:

In Afghanistan invitations do not go out weeks in advance like in the west, and are usually taken care of by the parents of the bride and groom. It isn't unusual for a guest to receive and invitation only days before the wedding. Waiting to send out invitations (or hand deliver them) isn't always the best way to go, especially if you want to insure that every guest can make it. For any guests that has to travel in, or fly in from a different country even, the invitations coming as early as possible is the best way to make travel plans. If the majority of guests are from the area or live around where the wedding ceremony and reception is set, direction cards aren't needed, but if parts or either family is not from Afghanistan, or the area, direction cards are a great way to avoid telling a large number of people over the phone how to get from airport to hotel, to the ceremony, to reception. Also, response cards aren't as important here either because the meal is traditionally serve buffet style and thus the persist number isn't needed, just around figure.

(Sketched in Love by Magnetstreet)

A beautiful invitation set would be Sketched in Love(available in nine different styles), it is a beautiful green with highlights of black that would go very well the green dress and the green in the flowers. Also, Tender Tendril is a beautiful set, it is green and white (or white and green, depending on which style is chosen) a little lighter than the Sketched in Love set. Adding tiny gold plastic gems randomly either to the invitation or the envelope would also add a bit of Afghan theme to any invitations. (Prices on invitations and accompaniments very depending on the number of invitations needed.)

(Tender Tendril by Magnetstreet)

Photographer and Videographer:
If the bride and groom are not from Afghanistan chances are they will not know a photographer or videographer. If they have family in Afghanistan than that may be something they should think about letting a family member handle. If the couple and their family does not know anyone or any photographer/videographer in the country than finding someone where they are from and asking that person to accompany them to Afghanistan for their wedding may be the best option. 

Traditional Afghan weddings are elaborate affairs, even poor families will go into debt, spending close to twenty thousand dollars for the clothes, wedding hall, food, singers, flowers and photographer (Ceremony.) A new tradition is developing in Afghanistan, taking on the Western tradition of exchanging gold or silver wedding bands. (Cartier Engagement RingsCartier Wedding Bands are great rings and good quality.) Nikah is a religious Islamic ceremony in which a marriage contract is agreed upon. It is traditionally held in private with the gathering of the couple's immediate family and is led by an Islamic clergy, the mullah. In Afghan weddings, the bride and groom are traditionally kept in separate rooms. The bride is represented in the Nikah by her father or a close male relative. The Nikah is negotiated before the mullah between the groom and the bride's representative. Once the groom has accepted the terms of the marriage, the mullah than goes to the bride and asks three times if she accepts the marriage. Once the bride accepts, they are pronounced husband and wife. (Nikah

There is no guest book in the Afghan culture, the receiving table is there to hold gifts for the couple, and the money box, jewels are given to the bride on stage during the reception, these jewels are mostly gold.  Guests show up to the reception before the bride and groom. They are usually greeted by a row of women on one side and a row of men on the other. The bride and groom's family will than lead the guests to their table so their is no need for seating charts, table numbers or name tags. The guests gather around and their loved ones and talk about their lives and gossip while exchanging secrets, as the musician plays mellow music for those who care to listen and calm soothing music for those in the mist of a political debate. (Modern Afghan Wedding) After the Nikah is complete, the bride and groom enter the wedding hall and the traditional song ''Ahesta Boro'' (or Ahesta Bero), which literally translate to ''Walk Slowly'' in Persian, is played. This anthem is a very strong tradition in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and some parts of Pakistan. The song was originally written by Abdul Rahim Sarban, he got his inspiration from the cultural folklore. (Ahesta Boro) Great places to consider for a reception hall is hotels, they can host guests and there is little travelling involved. (Serena Hotels, or Safi Landmark Hotel and Suits both look like great options.)
Once the couple has walked in, the couple is covered with a single shawl and is given a mirror which is wrapped in cloth. In privacy under the shawl, they then unwrap the mirror and look at their reflection for the first time together as husband and wife. They each take turns reading from the Qur'an (Depending on what tradition is followed sometimes this is done alone at home after the wedding.) (Weddings).
When the couple finally sits down they have a table all to themselves. They are said to be the King and Queen of the night and have a beautifully decorated table in front of the stage so they are the center of attention. When sitting, the bride traditionally lets her husband sit down first, it is a sign of his dominance and of who holds the power in the marriage. Also, a bride should not smile or dance on her wedding day, the bride is suppose to be sad because she is leaving her father's home.

At an Afghan wedding, the bride and groom are the first to be served in a buffet style dinner. This dinner usually consists of chicken and lamb kebabs, different kinds of rice, salad, vegetable dishes, mantoo (afghan dumplings) and more.

The Cake:
In Afghanistan culture all weddings must have a proper cake. Traditional wedding cake's are three-stories high, and resembles a pound cake which is often flavoured with real fruits or fruit jelly inside; chocolate afghan cakes, and coffee cakes are also popular (Afghan Cakes). The top patisserie is said to be Razavi Patisserie. Razavi Patisserie is found right in Sharenau, the main business district of Kabul, Afghanistan (Patisserie). A white cake with beautiful black swirls would go great with the wedding theme, adding green ribbons around the base of each layer would incorporate the green colour of the wedding also. 

(Black Swirl Wedding Cake by: Fair Cake)

When it comes to cutting the cake, the groom's sister(s) take the knife and perform a sword dance. During this dance, the sister dances with the knife and asks her brother for money for the bride. Once he gives her money, the sister gives the groom the knife and the bride and groom are free to cut the cake together. As the couple cuts the cake the musician will return to sing the traditional song, ''Baada Baada Elahee Mubarak Baada - Man dil ba tu dada am Tawakol ba khoda,'' meaning ''Congratulations, I gave you my heart now I leave it to God.'' The couple will cut the cake, and then family members will cut the pieces smaller and serve them to the guests. 
To try and match a cake serving set to the cake or even the cake topper isn't easy. But by simply taking a thick green ribbon, and placing a black thinner one in the middle, making a bow with them around the knife and server can make them match the cake and wedding theme. 

Guest Favours:
For an Afghan wedding, each guest usually receive a box of sweets at their table, and a tray of dried fruit and sweets (most commonly frosted almonds). Getting boxes that match the invitations or theme of a wedding isn't as hard as it may seem, and it gives the guests something to remember the wedding day by.                                                  
(Tender Tendril favour box and Sketched in Love favour box)

A centerpiece should always be small, this makes it easier for the guests to chat amoung themselves. A beautiful centerpiece could be the simplest thing. A square vase of water, with rocks on the bottom and floating candles could be a great centerpiece and match the wedding theme. Also smaller square or even round glasses around the main centerpiece can add light and more beauty. To add more red, cranberries floating in the water would work well also or scattered tulips around the table would also.

(Black and Green posted by onelovernk to Wedding By Color)

Thank You Cards:
Traditionally in Afghanistan the couple will be at the door thanking their guests as they leave. The couple does not send out thank you cards, instead their parents call the guests on their behalf. 

Places to see:
The best way to pass the time in any country is to sight see. In Afghanistan Band-e Amir is a group of five turquoise lakes that is the first national park of the country. Conveniently close to Band-e Amir is the city of Bamiyan, home to one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. In Bamiyan Bot-e-Bamiyan (Buddhas statue) is a great thing to see, they date back to 03rd and 5th century. Shahr-e-gholgola and Shahr-e-zohak are both caves in Bamiyan that are rich in Afghan history. Kabul bala hisar means a citadel or fortress within a walled town on top of a ridge or hill. It is the town's main defensive complex and has served as residence for Afghan leaders (Tour Afghanistan).Khyber Pass is an important site in Afghanistan, it links Pakistan and Afghanistan. Throughout history it served as an important trade route between Central Asia and South Asia. And finally, the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, also known as the Blue Mosque, is a mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. It is one of the reputed burial places of Ali, cousin and son-in law of Muhammad. 

(Mazar-e Sharif by Steven Evans courtesy of Wikipedia)

Afghanistan is such a beautiful country and a beautiful place to get married. Afghan's are very proud of their culture and traditions with good reason. They have very romantic traditions and very meaningful traditions that will add to any wedding ceremony, Islamic or not. A huge thanks to Afghan Wife, her blog was very informative and is not only a great read but is very insightful to the way and traditions of Afghan weddings and lifestyles.