It’s easy to get caught up in the hoopla of the wedding and the elements that go into planning one. Which is why an essential part of the process, the katb kteb, might be an afterthought. I fell into that trap myself, only starting to think about the event where we actually get married a couple of weeks ago.
On the other hand, my mind has been occupied with wedding planning since mid-February.
The katb kteb is when the marriage actually happens. It is when you become man and wife in the eyes of God and the society, and when you’re formally a part of his family and he is formally a part of yours. The wedding, if you want to look at it this way, is just the party!
No matter where you stand on religious versus civil marriage, you have to admit that the traditions and the bringing together of the family, in addition to the occasion, are beautiful. I will be writing more about it in the lead up to the day- we’re having ours in the same week as our wedding, though some people have it months before, some when they get engaged, or even on the same day.
But of course, like everything, this is a long and winding process and involves plenty of jumping through hoops and paying a good amount of money before you get your happily ever after.
First, you must go to the religious court, armed with a ton of paperwork. I am told you must provide all forms of proof to your single status and that you belong to the sect and religion.
To tell you the truth, I’ve had recurring nightmares about not having enough papers and having to deal with various governmental agencies. But this is Lebanon, give the mukhtar a tip of about 20,000 LL (less than 15 USD), and he’ll make a phone call to the court, exempting you from all the none-sense. With that, you’ll just need your regular ID and your family civil status record.
Once that’s done, you’re handed an application form and instructions to go to the affiliated lab and get the blood tests done.
Oh how long I have been dreading that! Isn’t it hilarious guys that I work at a hospital and come from a family of doctors and yet I am terrified of needles? Thankfully I can totally vouch for the phlebotomist where we went, I didn’t even feel a thing and it was over before we knew it!
It has to be done though. They test you for HIV, Thalassemia, get your blood group, iron levels, and what not. After you’re done and you’ve paid the 40,000 LL fee, you’re sent off to the doctor for a quick counseling session- just so she makes sure everything is alright and you don’t need additional shots and what not.
From our experience, I’ve gathered that they won’t really stop you from getting married even though the doctor does sign the application in the end with her finding no objection to the marriage. For a nominal fee of 30,000 LL of course.
But it doesn’t end there!
You have to take the completed application and go back to the court, where you hand it in and they re-check everything. You pay a 100 USD to register the application before the hunt begins for a sheikh who is available on the day you want. I didn’t go with Ahmad for this portion of the katb kteb proceedings, but he has told me that it involves entering a lot of rooms and a lot of hallways. So maybe it’s best that I just heard about it later.
As long and winding as this, we thankfully managed to get everything done in one week. I owe so much to the lab who sped up the results and scheduled an instant appointment with the doctor. Otherwise we probably would’ve still been waiting.
It’s also great that we did eventually find a sheikh who wasn’t going to Hajj! Why didn’t we think that this might be an obstacle is beside me!
With that out of the way, we’re one step closer to saying our I Dos!