Sunday, March 17, 2013

Going to an Omani wedding: should I bring a gift?

In the context of Western weddings, often when we are invited to a wedding reception party we also bring a gift. Some Western/European brides have lists of potential gifts they would like through a list called a "registry". In Oman, no such expectation upon guests of bridal receptions for Omani brides exist, except upon the groom, who must meet the bride's expectations exactly be it in gold or clothes or otherwise, in order to marry in the first. This "gift" is the maher and/or any additional gifts for the bride. Money, gold, jewlery, perfumes, and clothing (anything needed for the wedding) are the most common, money and gold being the majors. In fact, there are companies now that just arrange 50 rial notes into pretty folded arrangements for the purpose of the maher:)
for more photos from this particular wedding see

Traditionally, these maher are delivered to the bride in a mandoos (those wonderful studded wooden trunks) or carried upon a small model house (in more traditional families) to symbolise the foundations of the marriage after being paraded from the groom's house to the bride's, then the gifts are placed in the mandoos in the bride's home (the mandoos being the bride's father's gift to her to keep her dowry until the wedding reception ect..). ***Note: Islamically anyone who touches or takes from the maher/dowry money for the bride but the bride herself through her own will, is considered to have their hand dipped in the hellfire as this is a sin***
But that does not mean gifts for the bride do not exist, it is just that they are delivered upon being invited to the actual marriage ceremony (the melka) or the gift ceremony where the maher is delivered  rather than the big party (the urs) that most expats experience. Usually only close friends and family are invited to the melka or when the bride's dowry is delivered which is why less expats witness these traditions.
Omani brides seem open to gifts on whatever the occasion, but the purpose of the big women's party is to make the marriage known, and this event is for showing hospitality to the guests to accomodate that purpose, which is why gifts accepted at this occasion are rare. But some wedding receptions do have a small table outside the wedding hall to place any gift you might wish as a guest to bestow. Just know, it will not be opened in front of you and unlike Western traditions, never include the receipt;).
 So if you DO happen to wish to give a gift on the urs day or happen to be invited to the gift giving day or the henna party for the bride, what is the normal thing to bring?: The most common gifts for bride's include watches, fine jewelry (usually real stuff but a cute trend is if you can't afford gold or silver for the bride you might get her a baby size set of something traditional and say it is for a future daughter ect.), perfume, chocolates, fresh flowers, new bed linens, fresh Omani rial note bills folded and arranged into fans or flowers, make-up (this is a new trend and it is usually the make-up for the bride for the day of the wedding party), photo frames, a wedding album, luxury leather items like belts and handbags, and occasionally dishes for her new home. I have never ever seen anyone ever give an Omani bride a blender or something that doesn't "look pretty" when presented. You can think of it like the old-fashioned Victorian notion of a bride's trousseau.


Aisha said...

Nice post nice to those Omani ladies having special and wonderful weddings, tabarakAllah. :) Yes it's pretty standard in other places to that no one will open the gifts during the Waleema or party, no time anyway. Makes me remember my own. Gold, chocolate, cake and flowers can't go wrong, my kinda day. :D

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Aisha: Do you have any pictures? What tradition was your walima in?

Boxie said...

That sounds like fun. I would say a waffle maker, but that is not cool. If it had to be girly I would do a selection of tea in cute tins that where self customized and could be reused. On that note, how is the tea seletion nowadays?

The Duncan Adventures said...

That was a really interesting post, thank you for writing it and advising us Expats as to the traditions and expectations if we are invited to an Omani wedding.
Great post :)

Aisha said...
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Aisha said...
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Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Aisha: Californian/Tunisian, that is awesome! I love takchitas so so so much and don't own a single one since Omani ladies don't like Moroccan women to be married to OMani men so I avoid as much as I can anyone thinking I am Moroccan lol.

I didn't have a walima really. I wore an abaya and had a meal of chicken with a Balushi family who were relatives of our Imam and that was it;).

When my daughte ris old enough to have her own wedding I"ll totally make up for that.

But one of the OPNO girls when she got married wore the loveliest NAwal Al Hooti Omani dress, and everything about her wedding was traditional Omani, from the food, to the dancers playing duffs and singing without music, and the decorations.

And some games like rifle contest and sword fights on the groom's side.

That was PRETTY aweseome lol. No photos were allowed though.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Boxie: I guarantee you will be invited to more family events than I am because Madame de Polygyny's co-wife has decided she adores you lol.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

The Duncan Adventures: Thank you for reading. I should probably do more of these kind of posts.