Sunday, November 18, 2012

Afghanistan Wedding #2 - Lapis Lazuli (Blue) Wedding

This second Afghan wedding is gears more towards someone who is looking to renew their wedding vows or to have a destination wedding. If the couple doesn't want to actually get married Muslim, than getting married in their native country at city hall first before going to Afghanistan would be the best way to go. Planning a wedding in a country that neither person has ever been to or has any connection to can be very hard, so a great way to make the whole process easier is to go on vacation there for a few days even just to find out things that the internet can't always give you (a great place to get married, to have a reception, to get flowers or a cake from for example).
Afghanistan is known for a lot of things, however, not many people realize that it is also know for a beautiful blue stone called Lapis lazuli. Afghanistan is a country on top of millions of dollars worth of untapped minerals. Lapis lazuli used to be mined exclusively in Afghanistan and is used to make blue pigments that cause the rich blue colour in works of art. It is truly a beautiful stone and a great thing to plan a wedding around.

(Lapis lazuli block picture by: Wikipedia)

To match the beautiful and different shades of blue associated with the Lapis stone, mixing and matching flowers is something that would give the best result. If a couple is renewing their vows, mixing in flowers from the original wedding is a great way to carry over the special day and tie the two days together. A great option is blue hydrangeas and stephanotis.

(Hydrangeas and Stephanotis picture by: Bouquet Wedding Flowers and real touch blue hydrangea and stephanotis Boutonniere by: Hibiscus Florals )

The Dress:
In Afghanistan there isn't a dress code per-say, but it is always a good idea to dress like the locals. Woman should have as much of their body covered as possible with loose fitting clothing. Any wedding dress can be made to meet these guide lines. Even if the dress is strapless, a simple jacket or sleeve would hide most of the bride's arms. A great dress to use for a wedding in Afghanistan would be one like the image below. It is light, not very form fitting but still has some shape to it, the shoulder are covered and light sleeves can easily be added. 

(Floor-length Sweetheart Wedding Dress, Gorgeous Sweetheart Floor-length Chiffon over Satin A-line Destination Wedding Dress at: Dido Bridal)

The Shoes:
Since the dress is simple and elegant, the shoes can be simply beautiful as well. Afghanistan is a hot place to visit so sandals would be a good way to go, even a flip-flop would be fine. The dress is long enough that it practically covers up the shoes anyways so something simply, with a little sparkle would go well. Nothing with a huge heel because they the dress won't hang as low as it normally would and won't cover as much. A flat flip-flop with diamonds, or silver gems or beads would look beautiful with the Dido dress.  

(Beautiful example of Up-do and formal styling by: Hairstyles For Thin Hair

Make up, hair, nails, and accessories: 
In Afghanistan, the woman usually have their hair covered up completely, especially when entering a mosque.  So, going with an ''up-style'' hairdo and a veil would be best for an Afghanistan destination wedding. For the hairdo's in Afghanistan, the bride may not want to go too extravagant because, again depending on local customs and what not, people may not see her hair or get to see the full effect as she would want. Something beautiful but not over the top would be great because it gets covered by the veil, so the veil isn't taking away from the hair, but if the bride chooses to take the veil off during the reception it is still beautiful. Earrings and necklaces that are simple and not overwhelming add to the bride's look without taking away attention from her. Finding beautiful Lapis Lazuli earrings and necklaces may be easier in Afghanistan but with the internet shopping around the world is much easier to do. For make up (and hair also), the best way to go is to stay natural. A wedding day is no time to start experimenting with new hair colours or new make up colours. As for nails, a great look is always the french nail. Adding little silver embellishments would match the dress and look fabulous.  Any veil would go great with the hairstyle and wedding dress. A beautiful one tier veil that is somewhat see through and long enough to cover the face is a perfect fit. The beaded edge on the veil below, adds something to the plan veil and can call some attention away from the bride's hair showing too much for the culture. 

(One-tier Tulle Waltz Veil With Bead Edge at: Light in the Box)

The groom:
The bride has a ''Western'' dress, so the groom will have to go with a suit. Moores Clothing has great options to choose from that are high quality and match well together. Moores is great for mixing and matching, and that means buying everything separately. Any tuxedo works fine, the only real thing that has to be perfect would be the tie. To save money, any groom should have a dressed up suit already, black pants, and a black blazer that match would be fine for a wedding, so all that's left is the vest, or cummerbund cumberbund and the tie. Also, a great token for the groom is cufflinks that match the theme of the wedding. Cufflinks come in almost anything and lapis cufflinks would be a great trinket for the day. 

(Cavalier Tie - Royal Blue by: Tuxedo Junction)

The invitations: 
With any invitation set, mixing and matching can sometimes work great as long as the themes match. Picture invitations will match anything because most of the time the text can be matched to any colour. When getting married in a different country save the date cards are very important. Out of town wedding should always have save the date cards because guests need time to make travel plans and book time off work and make other arrangements. 

(Spotlight on Love - front and back view by: Wedding Paper Divas)

Spotlight on Love is a theme that is available at Wedding Paper Divas, it comes in a set and would work great with the lapis theme of this wedding. The image above is of the invitation, it is beautiful has the blue circle that pulls in the theme and the back is two different shades of blue. 

Photographer and Videographer:
Chances are couples from other countries are not going to know any good photographers or videographers in Afghanistan. Asking a local company or person to travel around the world just to shoot pictures and/or video would cost a small fortune. The best thing to do is to ask friends and family if they have any experience with taking pictures (beyond the point and shoot that everyone can master), it would be a lot cheaper if an already invited guest could take pictures for the big day. But just because they are there anyways, offering to pay them a small fee, or asking them do to it as a wedding present could go along way to getting someone to agree to do it.

Preaching (non-Islamic), and abandoning religion (Islam) are consider serious crimes and penalties are severe (Afghanistan Law). This is when getting married in a city hall works best, so the couple can exchange vows and share rings at their ceremony, or they can have an ordained friend simply walk them through the major steps, saying vows, exchanging rings, saying I do. Public displays of affection may cause some offense so keeping the, ''You may now kiss the bride,'' part out of the wedding could be something to think about if there is a large crowd, or keeping the kiss to a peck and nothing too extreme would be best. Keeping with the theme of lapis stone and its beautiful colour, rings for both the bride and groom can be found with the blue stone in. 

 (Left: Sterling Silver and 18K Gold Lapis Lazuli Ring By: Lapis Lazuli World; Right: Titanium Ring with African Blackwood and Lapis by: Hawaiititanium).

Traditionally in Afghanistan there is no guest book, but for most Americans and Canadians that's a tradition in weddings. Just because a couple is celebrating in a different country doesn't mean they have to leave all their traditions behind. A tradition guest book works fine, finding a blue one would be perfect. But there are many different options out there and Etsy is a great place to find them. 

(Left: Rustic Theme Wedding Reception Plaque by: JKartshop)

In Afghanistan the couple's parents usually sit the guests. But for a couple that decides to take wedding pictures and pictures of the beauty around them, they are going to want their family with them. The best thing, and traditional thing in American is seating charts. Create a seating chart and table numbers along with place cards will take care of making sure everyone has a seat and is seated where they should be. Groom Carrying Bride by Magnet Street has matching table numbers and place cards to go with the invitations.                                            

(Groom Carrying Bride Place Cards and Table Numbers)

An Afghan bride doesn't usually dance on her wedding day, she is suppose to be sad that she is leaving her father's home, not dancing and celebrating. But there are just some traditions that all bride's should take part in. A father daughter dance, and a couples first dance truly should be something every couple experiences. Since Afghan couples don't usually have a first dance, and the bride doesn't usually dance with her father, there are no traditional songs, the bride and groom should choose a song that means something to them and speaks to their experience and feelings, however a close song would be ''Ahesta Boro'' (or Ahesta Bero), which means ''Walk Slowly''. Traditionally, Afghan couples walk in to their reception to this song, but to mix a little local culture with traditions the bride and groom may be used to, it could be a couple's first dance song. It is not tradition for the bride and her father to celebrate her ''leaving'' his home to join the groom, but if the bride wants to dancer with her father any song that means something to her would be beautiful. Garters are not usually a part of the Afghan tradition but if the couple chooses a blue and white lace garter set would be beautiful. 

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. This is a great tradition to follow, it highlights the local cuisine and it allows the guest to try new things if they want or stick to what they are used to. (Should the couple choose to have toasting at the wedding great couple's toasting glasses would be a Denim and Lace Set that would really carry the blue theme). 

The Cake:
A traditional wedding cake in Afghanistan is three tiers tall, depending on the number of guests that may be too big for the average wedding. Making a three tier cupcake stand cake instead may be more fitting for a lesser number of people. But it is never a bad idea to have different options when it comes to cake flavours. Traditional flavours for Afghan weddings are coffee cake, Afghan chocolate, and a pound cake with either dried fruit or real fruit jam in it. The theme of the wedding matches blue colours, so if going with cupcakes, blue liners would be great for the pound cake, with a white frosting and blue berries on top; for the chocolate cupcake, a white cupcake liner and blue whip cream frosting with a few white sprinkles would be beautiful too. A three tier wedding cake would feed about forty people, if that is a perfect amount that a beautiful white cake with blue ribbon around the base of each tier would be the perfect cake. Also adding in flowers from the bride's bouquet would make the cake make the theme even more so. 

(Blue Wedding Cakes by: Wedding Cakes X)

The black details in the cake above not only gives the cake character but it also will give more options for matching the topper to. Wedding cake toppers don't have to be a bride and groom anymore, there are many different options, and the glass see through ones are very beautiful and elegant. Serving sets aren't always easy to match, sometimes the simplest thing to do is to get just a standard set that is beautiful on its own and adding a ribbon to match the cake. 

(Left: Black Swirl and Dots Wedding Cake Topper from: Koyal Whole Sale; Right Lenox Jubilee Pearl Cake Knife and Server Set from: The Knot Wedding Shop)

Guest Favours:
Traditionally, in Afghanistan guest favours are a box of sweets and a tray of dried fruits for each guest. A great way to incorporate that into these guest favours would be to give a box of frosted almonds (the traditional sweet giving at Afghan weddings), and a box of homemade trail mix. Making a homemade trail mix is really simple because basically its anything that is small and will stay fresh for a while. Adding together, oatmeal, or granola, dark chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate, or caramel chips, mini M&M or any other small candy type, sunflower seeds, dried berries or raisins, anything small, that can be kept in the open for a while and tastes great by itself, will work fine. (Traditional the parents of the bride and groom don't get specific presents, but giving the mother and father of the bride and groom glass jars filled with almonds and trail mix would be a great gift and they can reuse the jars.) 

(Personalized 2-Piece Square Favour Box at: Beau-Coup)

Creating homemade centerpieces are easy to do and can be very inexpensive depending on the type of centerpiece made. A very beautiful centerpiece involving water, flowers and cheap candles can be made to look like an elegant hotel display. Taking plastic glowing fake candles (and making sure they are waterproof), adding them to a bowl of dyed blue water and letting hydrangeas float on top would match the wedding well and look very good on the table. Underwater, the LED tealight candles (below) light up the water, make it glow and from afar they look like real candles. 

Thank You Cards:
 Thank you cards don't have to match the theme of the wedding, or have any theme at all. But most invitations set come with matching Thank You card options. 


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. 

(Landscape of Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan, picture by: Lonely Planet)

The next country alphabetically is Albania, in southeastern Europe!