Love is in the Air: Arabic Vocabulary for Weddings

Arabic Vocabulary for Weddings

Love is in the Air: Arabic Vocabulary for Weddings

It’s that time of year when love is in the air in most Arabic-speaking countries and that can only mean one thing: If you met even a few Arab friends, you’re probably going to get a دعوة زفاف  daʻwat zifaaf  (wedding invitation) from at least one of them. So, to help you speak Arabic and feel a special part of the big day, we’re going to give you some Arabic phrases and vocabulary that will make you almost as happy as the عروس ʻaroos (bride) and عريسʻarees (groom). Though Arabic traditions and customs differ from country to country, and sometimes from family to family, this article will present the steps of زواج zawaaj (marriage) that the majority of Middle Eastern families follow when boy meets girl and wedding bells start to ring.


First, much like the Western world, Arabic marriages usually begin with the طلب زواج Talab zawaaj (marriage proposal). This involves a meeting of the two families of the boy and girl intending to get married and is known as the (جاهة) jaahah. It is here that they work out the details of the marriage agreement known as the katib ktaab (which roughly translated from Arabic to English means “the writing of the book”). Once the both families agree on things such as the مهرmahr (dowry), where the wedding will take place and where the couple will live, the couple is officially مخطوب makhtoob (engaged).  Afterwards, the خطيب khateeb (fiancé) and the خطيبة khateebah (fiancée) get to know each other, which can last anywhere from one week to upwards of one year. The katiba may also decide to have an حفلة خطوبة Haflat khutoobah (engagement party) during this time.


The wedding party is usually in a big صالة Saalah (hall). In some traditions, the men are separated from the women, while in other traditions it is mixed. Once you arrive, you will be greeted by either the والد العروس waalidu alʻaroos (father of the bride) or father of the groom waalidu alʻarees (the father of the groom) or both. Be sure to tell them both مبروك “mabrook!” (“Congratulations!”).  Once inside, you will be shown where to sit and once the احتفال iHtifaal (celebration) begins, there will be plenty of traditional dancing done by both males and females. Later there may be a meal followed by the traditional slice of  كعكة الزفاف kaʻkat azzifaaf (wedding cake). Then there will be more dancing until everybody gets tired and leaves, the first of whom will be the ʻaroos and ʻarees on their way to their شهر عسل shahr ʻasal (honeymoon).


Now that you know Arabic vocabulary for weddings, get out on the dance floor and have a good time!
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