Thou Shalt Be Pretentious

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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.

daytime dress: a tricky test of taste

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$.

sell a kidney and get the dress

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.

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7 responses »

  1. I LOVE IT! HAHAHA I was just explaining this to some of my friends a couple of days ago. This is soooo true, add to that the fact that we have so many weddings to attend in the summer and the same people might be invited to several weddings so again you have to get another dress and it goes on and on…. The wedding day in the Druze community is really a marathon, it is a full-day thing especially if you are closely related to the groom or the bride. Great Post 🙂 Btw sometimes you can get away with wearing the same dress for both the day event and the night event, I guess it depends on whose wedding it is…

  2. Ahh i forgot to add that both of them got married a couple of years before so I’m clear now. But dear Rana please remember that the wedding expenses do not end at the point of paying for the dress, accessories, shoes, and professional make up and hair dressing, there is still the wedding gift. You can not attend a wedding and dance proudly unless you have placed a respectable number in the wedding account printed on the invitation card. Wedding accounts are becoming the nightmare of my husband and I. We plan ahead and save all year in order to be able to pay back those who attended our wedding and went through the same hell to place an amount of money in our wedding account.
    The question is: when did this wedding account beast over rule the simple wedding gifts :ugly vases outrageous wall clocks, and hideous coffee cups 🙂 ?

  3. weddings are lose-lose situations for eveybody onvolved, bride,groom, attendants,families, etc.. but the wedding gifts, though highly inconvenient, do form a good spring board for the newly weds after their financial resources are depleted by the wedding. so it’s give some and take some, don’t you think?

  4. I like the Lebanese idea of a ‘daytime dress’. The one in your picture would be considered an evening gown by most people in the UK – not that they would only wear it to a ball as we English have always been inappropriate in our dress, but still.

    No wonder Lebanese ladies travel with so much luggage. They have a whole wardrobe of gorgeous gowns worn only once to wear in company that hasn’t seen them all before.

    • i’m curious, why do you like the daytime dress? 🙂
      and as i said in the post, it is a very tricky choice to make, the dress has to be formal enough to be worn to a wedding, yet not too formal to suit the daytime event.
      and yes, we lebanese women can be pretty keen on our fashion, that’s why u’d seldom find a girl scout who is above 10 years of age!

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