Quick Question: How many dresses does a woman need in order to attend a wedding?
If you answered one, then know that I have doubled over laughing at you. Just Know it.
If you are a Lebanese Druze woman, you need to shop for THREE sets of dresses, shoes, and accessories in order to attend only ONE wedding.
Let me explain.
The vast majority of the Druze community still celebrate their weddings the very traditional way. A couple of nights before the wedding, usually a Friday night, the parents of the bride throw a party that’s akin to a bachelorette’s, except both men and women of the bride and the groom’s families are invited, and the male stripper is not an option. Naturally, a female invitee has to go all dressed up in a cute dress and a matching pair of shoes, with hair and makeup done to a tee, especially if she is of a marriageable age and of some claim to beauty since weddings in all cultures are just cover-ups for matchmaking conferences. So, that’s outfit number ONE. It will probably cost the lady or her parents something in the realm of 200$.
The wedding day arrives. The female wedding invitee will have spent no less than a month prior to the wedding shopping for TWO outfits as there are two separate celebrations that take place on the same day: the daytime wedding and the nighttime wedding. During the daytime wedding, the families of each of the bride and the groom would gather at their own homes, where they would have a mini-celebration complete with a ‘zaffe’ and ‘dyafe’. Then, the groom would go in a big procession of relatives and cars to the bride’s house, where another mini-wedding is also celebrated with zaffe, dyafe, and the works. Then, the groom would “take” the bride away from her parents’ house and to his own house in a symbolic ritual of crossing over from one life and family to another(it’s a marathon just trying to explain it). In the meanwhile, if the female wedding attendant is either the bride or the groom’s sister or close relative, then woe is she. For this daytime wedding, she would have to show up in a gown that is:
a.fancy enough to suit her “sister of the bride” social status
b.not a straight out evening gown, or else people would criticize her for trying too hard.
This ordeal along with its matching shoes, bag, makeup and hair would, on average, cost around 600$. Yes, that’s more than the Lebanese minimum wage.
And finally, part three of this tragicomedy, the nighttime wedding or the evening money pit . Here, the expensive celebration at a beach resort or five star hotel that all the Lebanese know will take place. And again, the female wedding attendant will have to present at the venue in a dress that is NOT the same one she was wearing earlier during the day. This one will have to be a straight out evening gown, and she can have it shimmer and sparkle to her heart’s contentment, channeling her inner diva. This dress with its accessories could cost up to a 1000$.
So if you do the math, 200$+600$+1000$=1800$, that’s a small fortune and a respectable one month’s salary by Lebanon’s standards, all wasted for three outfits which this female attendant will most probably not wear any more because “everybody had seen her in them”.
And what if somebody dared to break this extravagant, pretentious, and wasteful ritual?
You don’t want to be that woman; she would be labeled cheap and a spendthrift, and a typical Lebanese would rather take out a small loan with a ridiculously high interest rate to pay for all that extravaganza, and NOT be called the ‘c’ word.