I haven’t been to many weddings here but I’ve been to enough to know the formula:
People arrive to the venue, have a drink, greet and congratulate the families, take their seats, the cliche video of the bride and groom growing up until they meet and beyond plays.
Then the lights dim and some dance troupe emerges, almost always with some oriental or Lebanese theme. You’re expected to ouh and ahh like you’re absolutely fascinated by this all.
Loud music starts and a group of young men, all in suits, come out, clapping and cheering, with one or two dancers in front of them. Leading the group is the groom.
They clap and cheer for a while and the audience snaps several bad pictures before there’s a dramatic shift in the music.
Everyone is silent. The big moment is here! The camera pans to a large decorated staircase: the bride is standing with her father, ready to be given away. There is a standard playlist of songs to choose from for these events and they are almost always unwavering.
But of course, without the video, you never see anything- and the moment the bride and the groom are together, they automatically start dancing, everyone is surrounding them, and the troupe will usually follow up their first show with a loud drum and theatrics.
And again if you’re not in that circle, you’ll barely see anything.
The bride and groom will get all heated up and sweaty- and the magic of the moment is gone.
That ladies and gentlemen is the zaffe, the core element of any Lebanese wedding.
And I don’t want it at my wedding.
We’re just starting to think what we want to do for our wedding, and much like the house, we know the process won’t be easy or cheap.
I know I will be willing to compromise on many things as we go on with the process, but one thing I am firm about: none of that classic zaffe stuff.
And no Arabic music!
Cue the shocked faces. What do you mean, no Arabic music? That’s what I’ve heard endlessly.
No, I don’t want music neither my fiancé nor I don’t listen to and don’t even know how to dance to just because people think they can’t dance to anything else.
My whole life, I’ve been making playlists depending on the mood and the people. And much like many girls dream about their wedding dress, I’ve always dreamed about what music I will play during different sections of the wedding. None of my playlists ever included songs just for the sake of other people and it won’t start now. At the very least, the songs have to be meaningful to the couple involved.
I don’t want to have a zaffe because it doesn’t represent who Ahmad and I are. I also don’t want people to have to crowd up and ruin the magic of the moment because they want to participate in the cheering.
Sure I would love for our friends to surround us and be happy and I definitely want to make an entrance, but I think it can be done better- and with less chances of tripping while going down a staircase.
I don’t want to play Arabic music because it is insignificant to us, especially what I refer to as tishtikitamtam. In no shape or form has this kind of music played a role in our upbringing or our relationship.
I don’t want our first dance to be to Celine Dion or Bryan Adams, because we have a special song in mind that has been ours since we met.
I don’t want to cut my cake to Rami Ayyache or that Congratulations song because they don’t reflect our happiness or feelings.
It’s only one night of our lives, but a night that should honor who we are and who we will become by getting married, and I think this element is missing from a majority of weddings.
I don’t want it to fit a formula because we aren’t people who like what everyone does.
For example, this morning on the way to work, they played Hotel California and we both rolled our eyes. Everyone likes that song and knows it by heart but we cannot stand it.
To those who keep wondering how they will dance in our wedding with the lack of Arabic music and to those who keep telling us we aren’t properly planning our wedding without the zaffe, I have a few things to say:
If you can’t be happy for us the way we are with our likes and dislikes, don’t come to our wedding. It’s about time weddings started reflecting the couple rather than the industry trends and that’s all what we’re trying to do at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s good to break with tradition to be who you are.