Wedding Customs Of The Muslim World: Yemen


Wedding customs throughout the Islamic world are fascinating. To present this diversity in wedding habits, we are presenting this series on some Muslim communities and their customs.


This week, we are featuring Yemen. Watch for more features in the weeks to come. It should be said that these are cultural customs of the Muslim world, not necessarily Islamic religious practices.

Colored Days of Yemen

Wedding habits in Yemen, like those in the Arab world, are complicated and expensive. They make it hard on men to get married to the extent that they seriously put in doubt the possibility of getting married.

In Yemen, for instance, the man has to bring a gift to the potential bride when he goes to see her for the first time. This gift is given regardless of how the meeting goes. Usually, the gift costs around $150. Compared to the average annual income, which in Yemen is about $500, this is a great deal of money.

In addition, the man is also expected to bring gifts periodically throughout the engagement period, which is also costly given the fact that there are countless visits.

When the engagement date is determined, the groom is asked to bring gifts of gold - a long necklace, gold earrings and bracelets.

Usually, he stands in front of her family during the engagement ceremony saying, "This is the dowry of your daughter." He begins counting the gifts in front of the person who will perform the wedding ceremony.

If for any reasons the groom postpones the marriage ceremony, he has to send the bride a daily allowance to spend on herself as long as she stays in her fathers' house.

On the wedding day, which is called the "green day," because of the colors worn by the groom, the groom slaughters 10 male sheep. Some may slaughter 50, while the wealthiest slaughter 100. Usually, the women cook many different types of dishes.

The groom also buys something for the guests. At this time, guests present whatever financial assistance they can. Also, the groom gives an amount of money to the bride's father, mother, uncle, cousins, aunt and to the house servant as well if there is one.

He also has to give an amount of money to what is called "Assumiah" - to the little girl in the locality or village named after the bride.

The gifts he gives usually cost more than the dowry and the gift of gold. Not only that, but the groom is also required to give more money on the wedding night before approaching his bride or taking off her veil.

It's called "the wedding night right." If he can't pay it, she refuses to let him see her or stay with her until he pays it, which may take several days in some cases.

In other parts of Yemen such as Ieb, Mujeeb Marzooh told us about wedding habits.

He says that the groom is required to present to his bride with what is called "Aswaqa," which is a camel carrying on its back different types of food and gifts. The gift usually includes rice, salt, oil, clothes, desserts, etc.

The wedding itself usually lasts four days. The first day is called the "green day." Usually it's on a Monday and the groom comes to the bride's house to recite the Fatiha (first chapter) of the Holy Quran.

She wears dress shoes and holds her green veil in her hand. The second day of celebration is called the "colorful day" because of the very colorful dress the bride wears.

This is essentially the official engagement day. On the third day, the Hinnah day, the bride wears a very expensive dress called the Qateefa. The last day is usually a Thursday and called the "white day." It is the actual wedding day.

The bride wears a white dress. During these days, Yemenis celebrate by eating, drinking, and firing their guns in the air in joy.

Usually, during the walk toward the groom's house, the cousin of the bride and the groom walk side by side. Behind them follow the bride and all the guests.

The moment the bride reaches the step of the groom's house; he tries to step on her foot. If she is able to withdraw her foot before he steps on it, it is taken as a sign that she will be in charge of the household. If he succeeds in stepping on her foot, he is in charge of the house.