When you have been invited to a Muslim wedding as a guest, you need to behave in a certain manner during the wedding ceremony. Every religious wedding has rules and regulations that control how guests behave. Following these specific rules and traditions will determine if you are an ideal wedding guest or not.
Is there a certain way to behave as a guest in a Muslim wedding? A Muslim wedding ceremony is a spiritual event, and guests have to act and behave correctly. If the wedding is for a conservative couple, sometimes they will not invite non-Muslims to ensure their traditions are followed correctly. Ordinarily, guests are expected to carry themselves respectfully, and proper behavior shows respect to the bride and groom and their families.
A wedding invitation to your first Muslim wedding will have you wondering what you can and cannot do at the ceremony or reception. If you have no clue how to carry yourself at a Muslim wedding, the general rule is being modest and respectful. Read on to find out more information about what you can or cannot do as a wedding guest at a Muslim wedding and how to be a guest at a Muslim wedding.
20 Do’s and Don’ts in a Muslim Wedding
After getting an invitation to a Muslim wedding, you should know that there are few things the hosts will expect you to do and other things you should not do. If you have attended a Muslim wedding, you might know a few of them. If that is an invitation is to your first Muslim wedding, then here are some things you should do and should not do at the wedding ceremony or reception.
1. Read the Invitation Thoroughly
After receiving the invitation, take your time to go through it before sending your reply. Most couples will include key information about their wedding at the invitation. You might learn about the parts of the wedding you have been invited to, the couple’s policy on guests bringing gifts, their degree of religiousness, among others. You might end up in an embarrassing situation if you ignored to read the invitation properly and do something that the couple instructed their guests not to do in the invitation.
2. Do Reply Promptly
Wedding planning is a tedious task, and the bride and groom must get your confirmation to attend the wedding as early as possible. Late replies will affect the wedding plans, and the couple will have to make last-minute changes to accommodate you. Sending an early reply will ensure the bride and groom stick to their plans.
3. Dress in a Modest and Respectful Manner
When you have been invited to a Muslim wedding, you have to dress modestly and respectfully. Some couples will have their wedding at their local mosque; hence, your dress code shall be modest. If you are a woman, you will have to wear a long dress covering your legs and arms. You will also have to cover your hair by wearing a hijab or scarf. If you are a man, your dressing style should be formal or at least long pants and a long sleeve shirt.
4. Honor the Couple’s Wishes
Ensure you honor the bride and groom’s requests; if they request your presence at all parts of the wedding, make sure you show up for all the parts. Do not even think about just going to the wedding reception and your invitation says you are invited to the wedding ceremony as well. The couple knows who they invited to which part of their wedding; you missing one of the parts, the couple will know when you did skip some events.
5. Remove Your Shoes Before Entering the Mosque
One of the most common rules in the Muslim religion is removing one’s shoes every time you access the mosque. If the couple holds their wedding in a mosque, you will have to remove your shoes before entering the mosque.
Mosques provide a rack or room where quests keep their shoes until the ceremony is over. You can wear your shoes immediately after the wedding ceremony. You can wear your shoes if the wedding ceremony is at a different location, for example, the groom’s home.
6. Sit on the Correct Side
Depending on the couple’s religiousness, the couple might segregate the wedding guests according to their gender. If they are conservatives, the men will celebrate the wedding in an entirely different room from the bride.
If the couple is a little bit modern, they might use other forms of segregation like partitioning the room with balloon walls or having men and women sit at different tables in the same room.
If the couple prefers to segregate the wedding guests, you will have to sit on the correct side. You should arrive early to know where you should sit. Read the invitation correctly; if the celebration will be held at two different locations, you should know the exact location your gender is supposed to go. Once you have found a place to sit, maintain that position until the end of the ceremony, not move to the other room or side of the opposite gender.
7. Dress the Part
A Muslim wedding is a joyous occasion, and guests should come to enjoy themselves and have fun. It is highly recommended that you dress the part. Once you get that invitation, go shopping for a new suit or dress, if you have the best on ready, do not hesitate to wear it.
Muslim wedding guests usually dress the part; hence you do not want to be the only one wearing your ordinary going to work suit or dress. However, do not overdo it that it turns to be a fashion competition with the other guests.
8. Respect the Islamic Rules and Traditions
Another essential thing to do is to respect the Muslim rule and traditions. The wedding ceremony may have some different practices and traditions from other religious weddings, and it is important to observe them.
If you are requested to cover your hair before entering the mosque or sit in a different space because of your gender, you should do as told. You should not question why they are doing it; observing their rules and traditions shows that you respect the couple’s religion, and it will also mean a lot to them.
9. Eat at the Ceremony
There will be a wedding feast in a Muslim wedding ceremony after the signing of the marriage contract. The wedding feast is known as the walima, and the groom usually invites the family members and the guests to a feast.
There is a lot of food, and you should eat as much as possible. The groom and his family will serve a lot of food to the guests to celebrate the marriage. So, do not eat a lot before the wedding, there will be plenty of food at the walima.
10. Always Ask for Help When Not Sure What To Do Next
You should know that the Arabic language takes a large portion of the wedding dialogue; the wedding officiant will use Arabic at every event. The bride and groom wedding vows shall be in Arabic. If there are several non-Muslim guests, the wedding officiant will also use English.
If you are not sure of what to do or say at any point during the ceremony, please ask for help from a Muslim guest. Do not guess what you should be doing next to avoid finding yourself in an embarrassing situation.
11. Do Not Touch the Quran
If you are a non-Muslim guest, you should not touch the Quran at any moment. The Quran is a holy book, and Muslims prefer the Quran to be treated with respect; hence, restricting who can handle it. If you are a non-Muslim, you can only touch the Quran if you are clean and with permission from a Muslim guest. If you are allowed to touch it, handle it with respect.
12. Do Not Socialize with People of the Opposite Sex
The gender segregation at a Muslim wedding is to reduce socialization. You should not socialize with guests of the opposite sex during the wedding ceremony. The separation gives freedom to guests to socialize outside of normal social situations. Men are free to talk with other men without worrying about offending women.
Women can celebrate with other women by dancing and singing without worrying about being modest. It does not matter how much fun it is on the other side; you stay on your side until the wedding ceremony is over.
13. Do Not Touch People of the Opposite Gender
You should also avoid touching the opposite gender. There are no handshakes, hugs, kisses, or any other form of physical contact with the opposite at a segregated wedding ceremony. Even if the wedding ceremony is mixed, you should avoid physical contact between members of the opposite sex during the ceremony. You might go over to shake a guest’s hand, and they do not offer their hand; please note that they are not rude; they are merely following tradition.
14. Do Not Wear Black
If you are a woman, you should avoid wearing a black dress at the wedding. The color black and sometimes white are associated with funerals in some Islamic sects; hence, you should be careful when selecting black or white as your color of choice. Bright green and pink are trendy in Muslim wedding ceremonies. You are free to wear all the other colors.
15. Do Not Give the Couple Boxed Gifts
Most Muslim weddings do not include a gift registry. Some will even instruct the guests to either bring cash instead of a gift or bring any gift. The best gift to give a Muslim couple is cash; avoid ordinary wedding gifts unless you have something special to give them.
Do not give the money directly to the couple; put it in an envelope, and hand it to them after the wedding reception. You can also send the money directly to their home, where they will find it after coming from the reception or their honeymoon.
16. Do Not Bring Any Alcoholic Drink to the Wedding
Alcoholic drinks are not allowed in the Muslim community. The couple or the quests will not be drinking wine to celebrate their marriage as a couple does in other religious weddings. Even at the walima, the groom will not serve any alcoholic drinks to the guests. You cannot bring your alcoholic drink to the wedding ceremony; this is a ceremony that you will have to celebrate while sober.
17. Do Not Wear Inappropriate Clothes
If the wedding ceremony is held at a mosque, women will not show too much skin, no skimpy or short dresses permitted during the wedding ceremony at the mosque. In conservative Islam, women can only show their hands, part of the legs, and part of their face in public.
Even if you are a non-Muslim, you may have to cover most of your body before entering the mosque. Men should wear formal clothes and avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless t-shirts.
18. Do Not Ask Irrelevant Questions About the Muslim Faith
You are encouraged to ask for directions where you are lost during the wedding ceremony. However, irrelevant questions can be annoying and disrespectful. The wedding ceremony is not the time to ask questions about the Muslim faith. It is not the time to find out whether that piece of information you heard about Muslims is true or not. Most Muslims may find it annoying, and you might end up sitting alone by the end of the wedding ceremony.
19. Do Not Be Late
Plan your day accordingly and arrive at the wedding venue a few minutes before everyone is settled. The day is for the bride and groom. Hence, drawing the attention of the guests by arriving late is rude and disrespectful. The bride and groom should find you at the venue, not the other way around.
20. Do Not Make the Assumption That Partners Are Invited
If the wedding invitation does not say that you can bring a partner to the wedding, then do not bring a partner to the wedding. Bringing an extra person can cause embarrassing moments like where your partner should sit since they were not in the plans.
If the wedding is gender-segregated, then you might end up sitting on different sides of the room, deciding to bring them to the wedding a waste of time. Ask the bride or groom if you can bring a partner to the wedding if she says no, then you will have to attend the wedding by yourself.
How To Behave as a Guest at a Muslim Wedding
After getting that invitation to the wedding, the first thing you should do is reply as soon as possible. Let the couple know if you will be attending the wedding or not. If you attend the wedding, indicate if you will be attending alone or you will bring someone.
If you will not attend the wedding, indicate it in your RSVP and make sure you send the couple a congratulatory message through a card. You can also send a gift to their home with a note saying who the gift is from.
You should look closely at the wedding invitation and read every detail. In some Muslim weddings, the nikah is held several weeks or months before the wedding ceremony, and only family members will get the invitations.
Check the invitation letter to know which part of the wedding you have been invited to. Some conservative couples will only invite Muslim guests to their nikah, and non-Muslim guests will be invited to the walima. Reading the invitation carefully will show you the exact event the couple has invited you to attend.
If you have decided to attend the wedding, you will have to choose what you will wear at the wedding ceremony. The location of the ceremony and gender segregation will dictate the dress code of the wedding.
If you are a man, you will wear formal clothes, if you are a woman you will wear a long skirt or dress that covers your arms. You will also cover your hair. If the wedding is at the mosque, you have to dress modestly. You will remove your shoes and leave them at the entrance of the mosque.
If the wedding guests are separated by gender at the wedding, they will have some freedom in their dressing choices. Women in their rooms will not have to worry about modesty. You can wear whatever you feel is comfortable, and you do not have to cover your hair.
You might keep a scarf nearby for emergencies if the male guests and the groom decide to stop by in the bride’s room for a quick photo session with the bride. For men, you can dress casually as long as it is comfortable.
It is important to arrive on time. Arriving a few minutes early before the ceremony starts makes it easier for you to find your seat. Arriving on time also shows the bride and groom that you care about their special day. A Muslim wedding ceremony is not that long; if you are late for even ten minutes, you might miss the wedding’s most meaningful events.
If the wedding ceremony is segregated, you will have to sit in the designated area. In a conservative wedding, the men will sit in a different room or location away from the women.
Sometimes the couple will have the wedding in the same room, separating the genders with a temporary wall. Regardless of the segregation form, you cannot sit with the opposite gender during the wedding ceremony.
Once seated, you are not allowed to move to the other side. You are encouraged to socialize with people of the same gender sitting close to you. You cannot touch or have any physical contact with a person of the opposite sex during the wedding ceremony.
Once the ceremony is over, you can congratulate the bride and groom on keeping minimal contact with guests of the opposite sex. When congratulating the couple, only shake hands or hug a couple of the same sex as you.
You have to respect all the Islamic rules and traditions when attending the wedding ceremony. Most of the dressing style rules, sitting arrangement, and socializing have been in the Islamic community for a long time.
It may be your first Muslim wedding, and the segregation rule might catch you off guard. You should not question why they separate men from women during the ceremony. Follow what the ushers at the wedding ceremony say and ask one of your Muslim friends to explain the rule after the wedding ceremony.
The rules of gifting in the Muslim community are simple, always give cash. Many couples will request their guests to either bring cash as gifts or refrain from giving any kind of gift. If there is no information on wedding gifts, ask the family members or close friends what the couple would prefer.
If they do not have a wedding registry, you can purchase a gift depending on how close you are to the bride or groom. However, cash is the best gift for a Muslim wedding; put it in the envelope and give it to them when congratulating them on their marriage.
Plan your day accordingly; the wedding invitation might include the wedding program; check to see how it fits your schedule. A traditional Muslim wedding ceremony could take between twenty and forty minutes.
However, the walima usually takes long can last up to two days. You can plan to attend the wedding ceremony and witness the couple sing the marriage contract and skip the walima if you are busy. If you have time to spare, you can attend both ceremonies. Ensure that you inform the couple that you might leave the celebrations early so that they cannot spend time looking for you later during the celebrations.
After the couple has signed the marriage contract, they usually greet the guests before continuing with the other celebrations. The guests will line up to greet the couple. You should take this opportunity to say congratulations to the couple. You should also wish them a happy and long marriage.
Hearing those words from a person is much better than the couple reading them from a card or note. Remember to keep it short; there will be many guests in the line waiting to greet the couple.
You should always ask for guidance or direction whenever you feel unsure of what you should do. For a non-Muslim, some practice might be confusing; hence, the need for advice from someone who knows Islamic traditions.
Ask your Muslim friends about the dress code before going shopping. There is no need to find yourself in an embarrassing situation for something that could have been quickly clarified by a Muslim friend.
At a Muslim wedding, try and have a good time. Enjoy the moment and be happy that the bride and groom want to share their special day with you. The walima provides the best opportunity to celebrate the happy couple.
Enjoy the foods and drinks served during the walima by the groom and his family. If you usually drink alcohol at parties, this is one party you will have to go without one. The hosts will not serve any alcoholic drink, but that should not stop you from having fun.
The wedding couple might be your friends or coworkers, but you may not have enough information about their religious background. You should find out as much as you can about the religious and cultural background of the couple.
The information you will get might help you decide what to wear, parts of the wedding you can attend, and the type of gift to give the couple. Guessing about the couple and showing up doing or wearing the wrong things will make the couple thinks you do not care about them and their religion.
If the couple has a ceremony in the mosque, a religious leader will give a short sermon. He will also read several relevant verses from the Quran for the couple and their guests. Take this time to learn about Islam and its teachings.
It is an opportunity to celebrate two individuals’ union in matrimony and a chance to experience the Islam faith firsthand. You may not receive an invitation to a Muslim wedding soon; hence do not waste that opportunity.
A Muslim wedding ceremony is very important, and many Muslim individuals would love to have their friends in attendance at their wedding ceremony. Wedding guests have to carry themselves properly, from their dressing choices to their behavior. There are many things you can and cannot do as a guest at a Muslim wedding.
Good wedding guests will RSVP on time and show up at the wedding on time. As a guest, the couple expects you to behave respectfully during the wedding ceremony. Follow the couple’s instructions on bringing gifts, sitting arrangements, among others. There are rules and traditions to observe at a Muslim wedding; always remember to have and enjoy the special day with the couple.