Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Peek Inside a Saudi Wedding

In December I attended a family wedding at the brand new Hotel Galleria by Elaf in Jeddah.  The lobby is quite elegant and it's several stories tall. It has a grand European ambience.  The exterior of the hotel is spectacular. We arrived after dark though, so I don't have any exterior shots, but you can see some HERE. 

Traditionally, Saudi weddings are notorious for starting very late in the evening and lasting until the wee hours in the morning.  I believe this is due to several reasons.  First of all, people don't really start getting ready for the wedding until after the isha prayer, the last prayer of the evening.  Also, the bridal party usually arrives early to take professional photos with the family before the guests arrive. Since many Saudi weddings are still segregated affairs, this allows for time for the male family members to be in the photos, even though they are not part of the actual wedding.  This wedding was for women only. The men's affair was held the evening before at a completely different venue. 

The wedding venue was so elegant and spectacular.  Every detail had been well thought out. At one end of the hall was a raised stage with a gorgeous golden couch for the bridal party (the bride, her mom, and her sisters) to receive well wishers. 

The table centerpieces varied from table to table, with some having candelabras and others with large floral centerpieces.  Delicious dates were available on each table.

Once the female guests begin to arrive, photography is forbidden, so unfortunately I don't have any photos of the amazing evening gowns that were worn that night.  But I can tell you that the gowns could have been worn at the Academy Awards. Some of the younger women wore short trendy party dresses. Many guests had their hair and makeup professionally done for the occasion. 

The gorgeous seating area on the stage for the bride was surrounded by beautiful purple and white floral arrangements.  It was picture perfect.

My husband and I took advantage of the free time we had before the other guests arrived to take photos. We don't get dressed up fancy very often.  I think he looks so handsome in his traditional wear, don't you?  He had to leave before the female guests began arriving.

At the other end of hall was an amazing space great for photos, decorated with flower streams hanging down over flowing white drapes.  It was truly spectacular. 

The female-only servers were all dressed formally in black and white.  They were very attentive and brought us drinks of water and juices as soon as we sat down.  They also served us a variety of finger foods that were delicious.  The crystal chandeliers in the ballroom were exquisite. 

Guests began arriving after 10 pm.  It was fun seeing the variety of gorgeous dresses the ladies wore.  The ladies danced up and down the center aisle you see above. The music was a live female percussion band that had a singer with a beautiful voice who sang in Arabic.  The bride made her grand entrance at about 1 am, slowly making her way down the staircase and then gliding down the center aisle toward the golden couch at the other end.  It was the family's choice that the groom did not make an appearance at the wedding before the women. 

Above is just one of the platters of tasty delights that was served to us.  These were all sweet and other platters of finger foods were savory.  I would have liked to have tasted them all!  Dinner was served at about 2 am in the adjoining banquet room.  It consisted of table after table of scrumptious salads, breads, dips, vegetables, meats, and desserts.  The variety was overwhelming.  It was all delicious!  Sorry I couldn't get photos of the amazing buffet spread, but the female guests were all around, so I couldn't. 

My friend Vicki and I had an fabulous time that evening.  It was Vicki's first Saudi wedding ever and I think she had a very memorable time.  We sat with a table full of charming Saudi women who were old friends of my sister-in-law, the mother of the bride. 

Below is the candelabra centerpiece which adorned some of the tables.  Both types of centerpieces were placed on top of a large glass Lazy Susan, which made reaching things on it much easier. 

One final shot of me and my Saudi Prince - we were actually celebrating a milestone ourselves the very next day - 40 years together!  Gee, it seems like it was only yesterday ...


  1. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos!

  2. Thanks for giving us the great details. So glad there was a women's band. Did anyone put on the colorful 'thobe nashal' to dance, or was it evening dresses only? Sharing this on my author page.

  3. Gorgeous pictures, thanks for sharing.

  4. ma shaa Allah! Thank you for sharing! You & your Saudi prince looked quite regal yourselves!

  5. Can't imagine how elegant it is. Thank you for sharing it.

  6. Thank you Susie for a peek into what must have been an amazing experience!

  7. Susie you and Adnan look so great together and he is dashing in his thobe and shemagh. Great pics!

  8. Wow - that location is simply stunning!

  9. Dazzling and so elegant ~ Wedding must have been beautiful! Great photos!

    Happy Week to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  10. Beautiful and so elegant! You and Adnan look amazing.

  11. They catered my wedding last month and they were amazing! Don't overlook these gorgeous wedding venues!! It's something you have to check out in person. My family and friends could not stop talking about how good the food was and how sweet the staff was!

  12. How very interesting ! I think you are the first person I "met" married to a Saudi Arabian. What a wedding, certainly not very poor people, lol !

  13. What a beautiful place! And I wonder - why couldn’t you take pictures of the women in the party?

    1. Hi Danibpg - Photos of Saudi women who are not properly covered have been used in the past to blackmail them. When in public, Saudi women must be properly covered, so if a photo of them not properly covered get out there, it could be disastrous for her and her family.