Weddings in Pakistan: A Vanity Fair

By Farhat Naweed

Extravagant, colorful, and spectacular are just a few words you use to describe delightful weddings in Pakistan. The weddings in Pakistan are week-long grandeur affairs of intricate outfits, songs, dance, various cuisines, traditional & cultural festivities. These festivities go on several days – bringing family and friends together – consist broadly of events of Mayon, Mehndi, Nikah, Baraat and Valima spread over a number of days.

You are in a roll from your routine life to one vibrant fairytale world once you get invited to one of these weddings. The families of the bride and groom have to find the banquet that can fit for upto 1000 guests. Yes, you read it correctly! As this is one opportunity family of the bride or groom find to invite-back all the guests for all events they once have attended themselves. As one might wonder if this sounds like some large scale big-fat Asian wedding, however, these weddings happen fairly regularly in Pakistan.

Weddings in Pakistan begin with Mayon and Mehndi, these are the most colorful and happening celebrations linked way back to the culture of Mughal days of the Sub-continent. These events are all about singing songs on ‘dholak’ – the two sided hand drum; dances which everyone was practicing for weeks now; and getting henna tattooed on the bride and girls. Men usually at these events discuss politics, if you know what I mean.

The main highlight of the wedding is signing the marriage contract either on the main wedding day or a day before. This event is usually very small and held between close family members of the bride and groom.

Wedding Day or Baraat – a large reception by the bride’s family –  is usually held on a separate day in a banquet hall, where the bride wears the most beautifully adorned gown and the groom wears the ‘Sherwani’. Wedding dresses for Pakistani wedding ceremonies are designed in vibrant colors with  heavy embellishments. Red is often the color of a bridal gown associated with celebration worldwide, however, as the trends have changed, brides in Pakistan customise their own gowns in different colors and embellishments to match the theme of their wedding. 

Valima Reception – The next day of the wedding – reception is given by the Groom’s family called – Valima, which you would feel is more similar to a wedding reception in the west: Cake-cutting ceremonies, three piece formal suits and exquisite gowns, feeding each other sweets, exchange of presents and photo sessions (lots of them!). Of course you got all glammed up for nothing.

Food, Food and more Food… highlight of all the events in Pakistan is ‘The Food!’ Full stop. Different styles of cuisines for different days with a number of dishes are served in buffet style, sometimes with live kitchen. You are surely to gain a few pounds you have lost in order to look perfect in those party outfits. Oh well, you can always lose some later again but the food in the weddings in Pakistan is not to be missed.

Mindful of Time – One thing that you would like to keep in mind if you are attending one of the Pakistani weddings is to be mindful of the time. No, you don’t need to be punctual! On the contrary you have to add two plus hours to the time mentioned on the invitation card. Yet, you will find someone complaining to be arrived on the time stated on the invite and had been waiting since. Never be that person. Good Luck!



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