Perfect muslim wedding planning guide


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A compilation of ideas and resources for planning a muslim or for that matter any wedding.

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Perfect muslim wedding planning guide

  1. 1. Page |1 Perfect Muslim Wedding Planning Guide Almost everything you need to know about planning your Big Day. Compliments of Release 1.0 Copyright, 2014 Photo by dMap Travel Guide on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License
  2. 2. Page |2 Table of Contents Perfectly Simple Muslim Wedding Planning ................................................................................................. 3 What is the Perfect Muslim Wedding? ......................................................................................................... 5 How to have a Muslim wedding in 10 Easy Events (or Less) ........................................................................ 7 Who pays for what in a wedding? .............................................................................................................. 11 7 Steps to Planning your Perfect Muslim Wedding .................................................................................... 13 13 ways to be your beautiful best for the Muslim bride ............................................................................ 16 33 Ideas for a Simple Inexpensive Muslim Wedding ................................................................................. 19 13 Mistakes to Avoid for your Perfect Muslim Wedding ............................................................................ 23 How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Venue .................................................................................................... 25 How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Caterer .................................................................................................. 27 How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Planner.................................................................................................. 27 How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Florist .................................................................................................... 27 How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Decorator .............................................................................................. 27 How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Photographer........................................................................................ 27 How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Videographer ........................................................................................ 27 Perfect Muslim Wedding Budget Tracker ................................................................................................... 28 Muslim Wedding Planner Budget Estimator .............................................................................................. 30
  3. 3. Page |3 Perfectly Simple Muslim Wedding Planning Planning a wedding is no small task. The good news is people have been doing it for eons and will continue doing so. Although we talk about the "Perfect Muslim Wedding" that doesn't mean they have to be or should be extravagant, lavish feasts. This is contrary to the spirit of Islam and to the example set by the Prophet (SAW) which is all about simplicity. Now fast forward to the times we live in, and of course it is hard to correlate the two. Given that the average American wedding is around $27,000, Muslim weddings are probably not too far from that mark. You can have a basic wedding and pocket the rest of the money for a down payment on a house or use it another way. Or you can make it a grand event or somewhere in between. Photo by dMap Travel Guide on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License Only you and your family can and should decide how, where and when you will use the funds for your wedding. Remember other than the nikah ceremony which can be conducted in a mosque with two witnesses and the brides guardian and a simple Valimah (reception) hosted by the grooms family for close family and friends, you do not need to do anything else. Keep the Mahr (dowry) that the groom has to pay, easily affordable.
  4. 4. Page |4 Engagement and Wedding rings are a relatively new trend not present in most Muslim cultures. Photographers, Videographers, are luxury. With digital bringing the cost of taking photos and video down to consumer price points, anyone with a Smartphone or better can take them. We're not saying the results can be compared to staged productions, but hey it's almost free. Similarly Wedding planners, wedding decorators, wedding florists, and wedding confectioners (eg for cake) are new roles, that in the past were done by Aunty Soraya or Uncle Jamil. For the catering and serving Hafiz Nai, the village barber cooked the food and the young men in the community served it. A Tent was erected a couple of hours before the reception and that became the venue. Thos were the good old days. What you balk? OK We're not advocating you go back in time to the stone age but we are giving you a baseline. You can do as much or as little as you want based on you, your spouse and respective families budget and expectations. You can plan the wedding in six weeks or six months or a year. Go ahead make it a Perfectly Simple Muslim Wedding.
  5. 5. Page |5 What is the Perfect Muslim Wedding? When you hear the word perfect, we take what is a divine attribute and expect people, events or relationships to be flawless. A perfect wedding doesn’t have to be picture-perfect or meet the expectations of a fantasy wedding. The wedding industry in the end is a business and there is nothing wrong in that. However, you should make a conscious choice of where you are spending your hard earned money. You don’t need to super-size anything, most of all your wedding. Photo by Faiz on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License We will cover in more detail about how to hold a wedding on a budget and make them simple. The following are some further ideas about what you can do to make your or your children’s wedding a “perfect one.” 1. Use time over money. There is no substitute. The more thought and caring that goes into a wedding the more memorable it will be.
  6. 6. Page |6 2. Pick the M.C. early and determine the agenda and order of events at the reception. The M.C. should have a sense of humor, one who has good people and time management skills. If they can relate to the community that will not only give the event personality but an emotional connection. 3. If you’re the brides side, the mahar should be not so low that it is not meaningful, but not so high that it becomes a burden. In many middle eastern countries, young men are putting off getting married as the mahar is being set to tens of thousands of dollars. It is bad for not only the individual but for whole society. Keep the mahar low and affordable. 4. Wedding gowns and tuxedos look elegant, but ask yourself, is it worth spending all that money for a few hours? Looking presentable and modest shouldn’t compromise modesty. Borrow, rent, have someone make it are not unreal possibilities. 5. When coming up with the guest list, besides family don’t make it a “who’s who” of a sea of well to do friends and peers. Rather than the rich and powerful, invite the poor, or those are facing hard times. It will InshAllah be a blessed gathering. 6. Make it fun. Some people associating being Muslim or Islamic with boring. The bounds of Islam are wide, and there are many cultural activities that can be done. Eg in Arab, African, Afghan cultures dancing and singing is common. As long as it is not mixed and modesty is observed go for it. 7. Make it poetic. Have young and old recite nasheeds, poems, and of course the Quran. Finish with duas, and you can’t go wrong. Of course there are many other factors that make the perfect Muslim wedding, these are just a few to get you started.
  7. 7. Page |7 How to have a Muslim wedding in 10 Easy Events (or Less) Considering that there are over 1.5 Billion Muslims in the world (and counting), there is no SINGLE way for all Muslim weddings to be held. There are 49 Muslim majority countries and each contains many regional and cultural differences. Additionally, many Muslims living in the West then mix family traditions with their host countries e.g. U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and you have many permutations. We can discuss some of the major regional differences for example, Arab versus Indian-sub continent wedding customs in subsequent write-ups, but this is just meant to be a starting point. Feel free to adapt the information below to your wedding customs. Photo by amrufm on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License 1. Marriage Proposal. Usually the groom’s parents and elders come to the bride to be’s house and ask for her hand in marriage. There maybe a recitation of the Quran’s first chapter, Surah Fatiha, and refreshments served. In “religious” and/or conservative
  8. 8. Page |8 families, this act may not include the groom. However, here in the West, after being given permission to ask by say the father or brother of the groom, it may be the groom then proposes. Depending on cultural and family tradition the groom or his family may give a gift e.g. jewelry or some small amount of money as a token gesture that they are committed. 2. Engagement. Although not an Islamic requirement, with the flow of cultures, it is common certainly here in the West for there to be an engagement. This can be a simple informal event just between the families or more formal, where it turns into a prelude for a simpler, smaller wedding. It can take place in the bride’s home or in a restaurant with family and close friends. Again customs vary. In more affluent or less conservative families, there may be an exchange of rings and gifts for the respective families with the ring being placed by the grooms mother or sister on the bride-to-be. For less conservative, the actual exchange may happen with the future couple under the auspices of the respective families. There may be a short prayer to bless the upcoming marriage. 3. Dholki. This cultural celebration, more common with the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent and those that are more affluent, has started to become more common. The greater the affluence, the more the dollies that are hosted by different family friends. The dolce refers to the drum played and sung to by ladies at an all the functions. Now a days this also includes dancing in all-female gatherings. 4. Mehndi or Henna. Mehndi, a skin decoration most commonly used on the Indian subcontinent and in the Middle East custom refers to a celebration usually one or two nights before the wedding. Traditionally this used to be an all-ladies night event held at the bride’s home, where the Mehndi or henna is applied to the palms and feet of the bride-to-be. This was combined with the beat of the dholki (drum) and traditional songs. These days the old has been replaced with the new. More commonly now in the West and with affluent families, it is the groom’s side that brings the henna and sweets depending on cultural norms both sides participate. There may be fun and competition with the bride’s side teasing the groom’s family, but all with respect. Not only the brideto-be but also close family and friends also participate in the Mehndi application although not as elaborate as the brides. In Indian/Pakistani culture the bride wears green or yellow/orange, but this is very much cultural and personal.The event which is now more formalized can take place at the brides home followed by dinner (potluck or catered) or at a restaurant.
  9. 9. Page |9 5. Barat. This refer to the groom’s procession which includes family and friends that go to visit the bride’s home, or home city for the nikah. In traditional affluent Indian culture, the groom may go on a white decorated horse. These days the horse has been replaced with a car. The greater the affluence the more expensive the car. Although these days it is possible to rent limousines, classic cars and Rolls Royce’s, so many options. The barat may be received by a band. As they enter, the bride’s side of the family and friends put a flower necklace (Lei) on the groom and some key family members. They also throw confetti or rose petals on the groom’s procession, typically done by the bride’s family and friends. 6. Nikah. This is the actual wedding ceremony, usually officiated by a Muslim Cleric, an Imam. Although a nikah can be done anywhere including the bride’s home or reception hall, it is preferable and usually done these days in a mosque. Men and women sit in segregated areas, just as they pray. The Imam will ask for two witnesses from the bride’s side who will then accompany the Imam to the women’s side or just ask the witnesses to get the signed permission of the wedding registration documents. Depending on state and country the laws may be a little different. Once the witnesses return, the Imam conducts the Nikah by giving a short sermon (khutbah) and then asking the bride’s father (the Wali or guardian) if he gives permission for his daughter to be married. The Imam then turns to the groom and asks him if he will fulfill his rights and obligations and to pay the Mahr. Mahr does not translate easily into English, as it is loosely related to a gift, tax or dowry. It is usually monetary, but doesn’t have to be. The Imam will finally make a dua or prayer for the new couple. There are many duas, but the most common and Prophetic one is ‘barak Allahu lakum wa barak ‘aleikum wa jama’ bainakuma fi khair’ which means “May Allah bless you, surround you with blessings, and bring you both together in virtue and prosperity.” It is a Sunnah to share something sweets e.g. Dates, after the nikah. Depending on when/where the nikah is being held, you may choose to offer a light lunch or dinner for the guests especially those who have come from afar. 7. Registration. Registration requirements vary by country and state. In places like the U.K., it is a formal process, which can be attended by close family. In the U.S., and specifically in California it is a three stage process for Muslims. First the bride and groom need to fill out the paperwork at the registrars’ office and pay the fees. The bride should have decided by this point if she is going to change her last name or keep her maiden name. Islamically it is not a requirement for a woman to change her name.
  10. 10. P a g e | 10 The second step of the registration takes place at the Nikah where the Imam completes the paperwork provided by the city/county. The third and final step is that this paperwork is returned to the city/county and legally the marriage becomes valid. 8. Reception and Valima (Valimah). There are many variants on the reception and Valima. It is something that you and your families will need to discuss, maybe negotiate, and agree upon. In certain cultures like Pakistani, it is the bride’s parents that pay for and hold the reception. Most of the guests are from the bride’s side plus the barat that has come with the groom. Later, next day or week to allow the groom’s side to invite their guests and some from the bride’s side, a Valima is held. In other cultures like Afghan or Arab, it is the grooms’ side that pays for the reception. Sometimes if the number of guests on each side is similar or there are many shared guests in common a single event, a reception and Valima may be held. Both sides can split the costs (or not). There are no hard and fast rules about who pays for what, but as long as it is fair and mutually acceptable and done in good spirit that is what counts. 9. Rukhsti (Farewell). Rukhsti is the farewell even when the bride leaves her home or home city for the groom’s home. The bride’s father and family escort their daughter to the waiting groom’s car. It is usually an emotional event, where the bride, bride’s father and mother bid farewell with lots of prayers and, yes, many times tears. This will be the first night the couple gets to spend together. The less the families and couple know each other the greater the anxiety. Conversely these days it is not uncommon for a lot of communication to take place and that bride and groom have some level of familiarity. The couple may head to a hotel, their apartment (which the groom has secured), or grooms family home. 10. Honeymoon. Although a recent cultural addition after the wedding, most Muslim couples in the West go for a honeymoon to desired destination. Some who are more religiously inclined go for Umrah to Mecca and on the return journey spend time in Istanbul, Cairo or other destinations. Others chose exotic locations that have some Muslim significance, for example, the Maldives, Mauritius, Malaysia, Morocco… Not sure why they all start with M, but they don’t have to be. This is a time for the new couple to get privacy especially from family and get to know each other as husband and wife.
  11. 11. P a g e | 11 Who pays for what in a wedding? In Muslim cultures there are two very different cultural traditions of who pays for what. In Desi (Indian sub-continent culture) it is the bride’s side who pays for most of the wedding. In other cultures eg Arab, Afghan, it is the groom’s side that pays for most of the wedding. Along with this add other variables, cultural influences eg American, different geographies of bride and grooms families, as well as the dynamics of the family situation, gives you many permutations. Below is a general guideline that you can adapt for your situation. There will be many other expenses that do come up. Use your and your families best judgment and spirit to decide who should pay. Photo by srizki on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License Bride, Groom or Joint Expenses   Reception expenses including flowers, decoration and wedding coordinator Photographer and Videographer
  12. 12. P a g e | 12    Invitations Bride’s wedding dress and accessories Groom’s suit/tuxedo Bride and Families Expenses      Engagement Party Bride’s family gift to grooms family Groom’s wedding ring Dholki (brides family friends) Mehndi (Henna party) Groom and Families Expenses          Brides engagement and wedding rings Groom’s family gift to brides family The bride’s bouquet Boutonnieres for groom’s (barat) Marriage license Imams officiating fee or gift Transportation from Reception for Bride and groom Honeymoon expenses Transportation and lodging expenses for the groom’s family
  13. 13. P a g e | 13 7 Steps to Planning your Perfect Muslim Wedding If you remember part of the definition of a Perfect Muslim Wedding is planning. Here are some of the key steps you need to do to set the stage. Photo by Guilhem Vellut on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License 1. Get in the right frame of mind. Whether you look at Olympic athletes, or Nobel prize winner, great accomplishments require you to be prepared mentally.
  14. 14. P a g e | 14 This means dealing with conflicting needs, wants, opinions and then being able to using diplomatic skills compromise and/or make decisions. It’s a fine line but figure out what you are willing to be flexible on and what you are not and would oppose your core values. You cannot micro-manage every detail, nor can you control the outcomes. Plan for the worst by making contingencies and then pray and hope for the best. Yes and don’t forget to have a little fun and smile. The rest of your team will take cues from you. If you are all tensed up, it will impact the mood of every one else. 2. Determine your budget and stay in the spirit of it. Just as with constructing a house, it is difficult upfront to estimate to the penny what the wedding will cost. Given your means follow the Prophetic middle way, don’t be miserly and don’t be extravagant. Don’t spend money you don’t have, alternatively even if you are blessed with wealth contain yourself. A perfect wedding isn’t the most extravagant, or picture perfect. It is how you make your loved ones and guests feel and that can’t be just bought. The largest cost factor in the wedding will be the reception including catering. Whatever budget you come up with it’s ok to breakout in some areas and hold back to balance the budget in others. Some things you will only want a professional to do and others you can do DIY. 3. Converge on possible dates. Pick dates based on when all essential people without which your wedding cannot go ahead. Although Summer is more popular than other seasons for weddings, remember that if guests are flying in especially from overseas peak travel times including holidays are premium in airfares. Depending on the size and complexity of the wedding it can take anywhere from three months for a short notice to up to a year for a larger wedding. Converge on possible dates and this becomes an important reference point for the venue. 4. Pick the Venue. Based on the size, style and suitability pick a shortlist of potential venues. Decide with your fiancé, family, in-laws whether you want a simple, outdoor, grand, or other type of wedding. Put a first pass together of number of guests for each side and determine if the venue has the capacity. Think about ambience, ease of access along with convenience for guests and suitability and fit for vendors. Think about how prepared the place is and or what you will need to get it the way you would like. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are the most popular days for weddings. Saturdays carry a premium. If you are using a Wedding Planner they can help you narrow down venues and then based on your, their and host sites availability, budget and other factors pick the venue.
  15. 15. P a g e | 15 5. Catering the guests. Depending on the venue you may end up choosing either a venue that offers a package that includes the catering or work with an approved vendor of your choice. Packages offer convenience. Selecting your own caterer and menu gives you more choice and flexibility with the caveat that this becomes one more thing for you or your team to manage. 6. Get Organized. It is easy to get overwhelmed with so many details and decisions in the planning process. If you are taking on the Wedding coordination/project manager role we want to help you. Even if you hire a wedding planner, you will still have to be aware of what is going on in each part of the planning process. To help you with this we have put together spreadsheets to remind you what to ask vendors and venues. Although these lists are based on a lot of research and fairly comprehensive we encourage you to compliment and/or edit these lists with your own questions. Also we encourage you to share any “holes” or ways to supplement these resources. 7. Other Stuff. There are many other steps including selecting a theme, wedding dress, grooms outfit, gifts, decorator, florist, honeymoon travel etc. These are covered in other parts of the site as well as future blog posts. This list is meant to get you started with some of the most important parts of the planning process.
  16. 16. P a g e | 16 13 ways to be your beautiful best for the Muslim bride Looking perfect, beautiful and dazzling on your wedding day means that you have to look your best. To look and feel great you need to be rested, relaxed and let your happiness radiate from your every pore. Making sure your dress, your hair, your makeup, eyes, lips and teeth are all looking good is a key component of looking beautiful. Photo by Mustafa Syed on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License However, beauty is often too narrowly defined. If you can view beauty as both inner and outer, you can be your beautiful best. Put down the Brides magazines as our visual field is impregnated with images of unreal women (often digitally enhanced and reshaped). When you feel good about yourself and those around you it will project into confidence and love. When you recognize that beauty comes in different colors, shapes, and sizes, you do not have to conform to a single standard. According to a Prophetic saying "God is beautiful and loves beauty ," as is "O Allah, as You have made my appearance beautiful, likewise make my character beautiful." Beauty is about the whole self. If we realize that Allah does not create anything except with beauty and perfection we can learn to be content with who we are, and not die to be who we are not. From a Muslim perspective, remember that we should pay attention to our appearance and to look attractive within the permitted bounds. Showing your beauty is intended for your future husband and mahram relatives. The general Islamic rule that you can apply is not go to extremes. Following the path of moderation works every time. By default you will be the center of attention so do not fall prey to viewing this as a fashion show or competition where you have to outdo others.
  17. 17. P a g e | 17 For your inner beauty focus on acts of worship including prayers, acts of charity and supplications (duas). Do not let cultural superstitions take over your wedding. Take care of your health. Eat in moderation wholesome foods and drink. Exercise regularly, take care of your body and oral hygiene. Take good care of your hair. Wear clothes that are not only clean but make you feel comfortable and good. Iconic actress Audrey Hepburn once said in a beautiful quote, “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” Your inner beauty radiates to create your outer beauty, so you can start by accepting who you are and your looks. Focus on the nice features Allah has blessed you with. Remember it’s all a package that we are endowed with. Caring about your appearance will reflect in your inner confidence. You will most probably work with a beautician so we’ll let them take care of the details like the hair, the makeup and everything else you need to get ready. In addition to looking your beautiful best here are a few other tips: 1. Less is More, even in Fashion and Beauty. This applies to jewelry, makeup and other accessories. They should compliment your dress and looks not compete with them. 2. Wear moisturizer daily all over and exfoliate once a week. 3. When you feel good, you look good. The weeks leading up to the wedding are more important than trying to do too much grooming on the day of or the day before. 4. Wear in your wedding shoes beforehand so they are comfortable on the big day. 5. Do a rehearsal of all the events and places, so on the big day, you are as prepared as can be. The less surprises the less stress you will have to endure. 6. Visit the dentist if you want to whiten your teeth. 7. Drink water and stay hydrated. 8. Get plenty of sleep. 9. Start off the day by taking a shower and praying your Fajr prayer. Let your hair air-dry. 10. Although accidents can and do happen, simple precautions like not allowing coffee, sodas or other spills ruin your dress and day. 11. Ditch the coffee, tea and anything with Caffeine. You’re adrenaline will keep you going. 12. Wear waterproof makeup as there is a high likelihood that you may cry or get teary. 13. Breathe. It sounds obvious but when you’re tense you take shallow breaths.
  18. 18. P a g e | 18 A human being is far greater than the sum of her (or his) parts. Do what you can to make this memorable day one that not only is blessed through prayers but shows yours and everyone’s joy and beauty all around. May you, your spouse and families bring out the beauty of each other and have a blessed and beautiful wedding.
  19. 19. P a g e | 19 33 Ideas for a Simple Inexpensive Muslim Wedding If you want a traditional wedding that you have attended of other families and friends, or are caught up in “gotta have that”, “what will my friends or family think,” you will be stuck in an emotional roller coaster. On one side you and your mind want things to be simple and inexpensive, on the other your heart tugs at you and you want it to be elegant and wow everyone. Here is the reality. You can have anything (within reason) but not everything. For each decision you, your spouse and family need to ask, “Is it nice or necessary?” Don’t try to impress and you will offload a lot of in built stress. Photo by on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License Below are some ideas to get help you along. 1. Cut the guest list; again and then again. It is easy for the guest list to bloat. The cost of your wedding is proportional to the size and number of your guests. Of course there are many other factors discussed below. Cut the extras, the kids, the couple when you only need the one, the nice to have’s, the club buddies, the people who don’t really care or count. 2. Cut the fancy reception hall or hotel in favor of a nice home or outdoors. The reception as a percentage is for most people the largest hole in the wedding budget. Slash it by having the reception in a spacious family or friends home or outdoors in the garden, park or other venue.
  20. 20. P a g e | 20 3. Cut the catering and do a pot luck or have family friends with cooking talent assigned to making certain dishes. You can provide the ingredients or most probably they will be honored to help. 4. Follow the one dish rule eg One appetizer, one main dish, one dessert. 5. If you are using a caterer buffet is cheaper than a formal sit-down meal. 6. Cut the florist. Have a simple bouquet for the bride. Raid family or friend’s gardens by cutting roses or other flowers, trimming the thorns and putting in a few select vases. Go to Ikea for vases, candles and other accessories. 7. Borrow or rent the wedding dress. Think about it, is it worth spending lots of zeroes for a few hours. If not what about getting a graduation or other dress which can substitute as a wedding dress. 8. If you are going to buy the wedding dress and accessories, look everywhere beyond wedding dress stores and departments. Look for simple dresses without all the handiwork and details. Look online. Look at the discount stores. Look at sample dresses. If you have good contacts in your parents home country, they can have a custom dress made for you at a lower cost. 9. Do online invites eg Evite or hand design and copy them or use a postcard from sites like Vistaprint. 10. Be your own DJ, bring a home stereo, iPod/iPhone and have your favorite nephew or niece have a fun time running the show. 11. Family and friends do not need to all wear matching clothes. It can be business casual or whatever the best clothes each person has. Just a simple coordinating theme eg ties for men or some other accessories for women is all you need. If it’s really important you can rent tuxedos and other dresses. 12. Cut the makeup, you may gasp. Do your own, or have a friend who knows her stuff do it. Remember less is more. You don’t need a lot to look good. 13. Cut the fancy jewelry. Borrow a family members or friends. Just one eg pearl necklace or simple pair of earrings is all you need to accentuate your face, body and dress. 14. Buy decorations when there are sales going on or through Craigslist or other supplies store. Use candles to accentuate. Put floating candles in a bowl. 15. Plan a simple, local honeymoon. You don’t have to go anywhere exotic, save that for another time. 16. Ask a family or friend with good project management and communication skills to be the wedding planner. 17. Pay attention to detail. It is Ok to take shortcuts but know the terrain well. 18. Cut the dowry (mahar). By that we don’t mean eliminate it; it is a requirement for the nikah. However the trend these days is for the brides family to set large dowries. The
  21. 21. P a g e | 21 Prophetic way is to make it meaningful but affordable for the groom. Not something he has to save for life or go into debt for. 19. Similarly in Desi cultures (India/Pakistan etc) the brides family has to provide a large dowry to the grooms side. This can be furniture, a car, and other expensive items. This is a cultural custom that Muslims have adopted from their surroundings. You are giving the greatest gift your daughter, ditch the brides dowry. 20. Cut the gifts to every family member and at every event eg Engagement, Nikah, Reception, Valimah. Local customs can dictate that each side give gifts to not only the bride or groom but also to the parents, siblings, uncles, aunts. Although giving gifts is a nice gesture, when it become expected, it takes the heart and soul away behind the gesture. Again communicate this upfront, “let’s eliminate the gift exchange,” it keeps life simple. 21. If you are going with a formal venue for the reception, remember for the meal, lunch is cheaper than dinner, mid-week is less costly than the weekend. Fridays and Sundays are less costly than Saturdays. 22. For rings you can go with simple gold bands. Instead of a diamond ring you can opt for some other semi-precious stones, or crystal. In Islam gold is not permitted for men. Besides platinum which is very expensive you can go with tungsten or titanium. You don’t have to broadcast the details, it’s your little secret. 23. Skip the theme or wedding color and you remove a large constraint on what you can or cannot have at the wedding. Go for the rainbow! 24. Avoid holiday seasons eg summer when the costs for both venue and travel are the highest. Also avoid holiday weekends as they are more costly. 25. Have the nikah and the reception in the same place. 26. Depending on state and city law, the nikah may be conducted by anyone. Find someone in the community who speaks well eg gives khutbah and let them officiate and skip the Imam’s fees. 27. Skip the favors or assemble your own. They don’t need to be fancy. Eg a Date, a CandyAlmond, some M&Ms for color and maybe a dried fruit piece. 28. Avoid the fancy wedding cake vendors. Check out a local bakery and order a small cake for cutting and get a flat sheet cake to serve the guests. 29. Ask friends or students at local film school or photography club to take the pictures and video. 30. Ask guests to share their photos on your wedding blog, website or in the cloud. 31. If you do have a photographer ask for the digital negatives. You can have the prints and photobooks done cheaper yourself through Costco or Shutterfly. 32. Ditch the limo, and have a family friend who has nice set of wheels drive you.
  22. 22. P a g e | 22 33. A wedding is one day in your life. Don’t get so caught up in it that you or your family goes into debt trying to cover it and the expectations of all those around you.
  23. 23. P a g e | 23 13 Mistakes to Avoid for your Perfect Muslim Wedding Even though this guide and site is called “Perfect Muslim Wedding,” it does not mean that everything in your wedding will go exactly as you planned. Stuff happens, you can count on it. However, that does not mean there are some common pitfalls that you can’t avoid. Here are a few thoughts. You know your own situation best, for the critical ones, have a plan B. Oh yes and enjoy the wedding InshAllah. Photo by activefree on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License 1. It’s a wedding and everyone wants your attention. Make your guests and helpers feel they are heard, but don’t get kidnapped by anyone, so that you give some guests a lot of time and others none. 2. It’s nice to let key family and friends share memories, but don’t make it an open mike. Even the best of friends and family can bring the energy down and make you want to shrivel back to the cocoon. 3. Money matters should be discussed discretely both with your own family and your future spouse. Have the important discussions one-on one, and set the stage with the other side, so that when you do meet, it is not embarrassing or awkward.
  24. 24. P a g e | 24 4. Don’t play the Lone Ranger. Even he needed Tonto. A wedding requires a lot of coordination and help. You can’t do it alone. Play to family and friends strengths and divvy up the work. 5. Given that everything may not go to plan, that does not mean nothing should go to plan. Prioritize the most important things and work out the details. Rehearse, have alternate plans and of course pray for the best. 6. Whether it be the wedding dress or shoes, looking good is important but feeling good is even more important. You will be in the dress, suit, shoes for a while, and if you are not comfortable it will show through. Better to go with flats than heels of pain. 7. For low priority accessories and items it is OK to buy online. For the critical eg wedding dress it is best to deal with a physical entity person, shop etc. Allow enough time for snafus and delays so that you’re not pulling your hair out, worrying if your dress will be ready in time. 8. Avoid leaving for the honeymoon on the morning after the reception. You will be spent and that is not a good state to be going on honeymoon. Give yourselves at least a couple of days to recover and regroup. 9. Make different people in charge of major tasks, so that they are not coming to one person for every small and large decision. An example is a person each for the decor, catering, MC, music, guest greeting, usher etc. 10. With Muslim weddings it is difficult even with RSVPs to know how many guests will show. Have a a10-15% margin for the catering and for the venue to have the flexibility to add tables. 11. Whether you hire a professional photographer or ask Uncle Hakim to take the pictures, make sure you have gone over the must have photos that you need. Have a backup too. 12. Accidents happen. Some of the more obvious ones like coffee or other spills are a nightmare to deal with. Have basic rules eg no drinks in the brides quarters etc. 13. Don’t leave helpers and guests guessing about the itinerary. Create a schedule, share it and try to stick to it.
  25. 25. P a g e | 25 How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Venue There are many decisions you will be making in the plans for your wedding. Although each is important in its own way nothing is more central and significant than the wedding venue. Your decision to consider places will be based on some major themes and many smaller ones. The main criteria are your budget, location, number of guests, ambience/look/feel, and flexibility to work with your preferences and vendors. Popular venues get booked months in advanced. Photo by Kenny Louie on Flickr available under a Creative Commons Attribution - License The detailed questions for you to consider venue are listed in the Perfect Muslim Wedding Planning Kit. However to help you get started and give context here are things to think about. 1. Determine the timing. What season are you looking at? Does it work for you, your spouse, families and key people eg distant relatives, the Imam who will be conducting the wedding etc. 2. What month and day of the week. Most weddings occur around the weekend. As Muslim weddings depending on the culture can be quite elaborate, they may span over a few days.
  26. 26. P a g e | 26 3. Most venues offer similar rates for Fridays and Sundays, with Saturdays carrying eg a 10-15% premium. There are pros and cons of each day. Friday gets the activities going, Saturday gives everyone a buffer Sunday to recover and or do other wedding related customs. Sundays, besides being lower cost than a Saturday, allow you to get eg the Nikah addressed earlier. 4. Think about public holidays a. New Year’s Day, January 1. b. Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the third Monday in January. c. Washington’s Birthday, the third Monday in February. d. Memorial Day, the last Monday in May. e. Independence Day, July 4. f. Labor Day, the first Monday in September. g. Columbus Day, the second Monday in October. h. Veterans Day, November 11. i. Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November. j. Christmas Day, December 25. 5. Think about Muslim holidays and events. Eg Eid ul Fitr at the end of Ramadan and Eid ul Adha on the 10th day Dhul Hajj based upon moon sightings and/or calculations. 6. Visit potential venue sites if possible around the time and day of your planned reception. This is usually lunch or dinner time. Take notes, bring your digital camera. Note everything of significance. Imagine you are the guest. a. What is it like finding the place? b. How is the drive up to the reception hall? c. How is the parking? d. What is the walk from the parking lot to the reception hall like? Is it easy to find? e. Does the entrance look grand? f. Does the reception hall feel spacious and with help from the decorator give you the ambience you are looking for? g. How are the restrooms? h. How comfortable are you with the event manager? If you or your planner will be working with them is the chemistry good? 7. Consider the logistics. Will they work for you, your guests and vendors? 8. As you start visiting venues with key members of your family, you will start being drawn to some as finalists and others will get crossed off your list. You won’t be able to get everything in one visit so allow for follow-ups. 9. Besides capacity and availability, your budget and their fees need to be on the same plane. Once you are serious about the finalist venues, see what you can negotiate either in price reduction or getting things included. 10. It is OK to go non-mainstream with a venue eg museum, golf course, botanical gardens etc. As with any other decision there will be trade offs you will make, eg how much you take on versus the venue. Just be aware of them and make it a conscious choice.
  27. 27. P a g e | 27 11. Before you sign on the dotted line read the contract. Understand change and cancellation policies. Pray your Istikharah as with any major decision you want to invoke Allah’s blessings. 12. Last but not least ask lots of questions. A comprehensive list of questions for venues and vendors is listed in the Perfect Muslim Wedding Planning Kit which can be found on the website. This document is meant to help you get a start and cover the basics. For more details of the following please check out the website, How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Caterer How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Planner How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Florist How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Decorator How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Photographer How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Videographer
  28. 28. P a g e | 28 Perfect Muslim Wedding Budget Tracker Estimated Actual $0.00 $0.00 Estimated Actual $0.00 $0.00 Estimated Actual Reception Wedding Hall Rent Tax & Gratuities Catering-Food Sodas, Chai, Coffee Cake Favors Flowers Bouquets & Centerpieces Boutonnières Other_________________ Total Reception Apparel & Gifts Engagement Ring Wedding Ring Wedding Dress Shoes Jewelry Groom's Suit/Tuxedo Groom's Shoes Gifts to New Family Other_______________________ Total Apparel Other Expenses Imams Fees Masjid Nikah Fee (If applicable) Wedding Planner Florist Decorator Photographer, prints, albums Videographer, DVDs Engagement Party Hotel Rooms
  29. 29. P a g e | 29 Limousine Invitations, Programs Thank you cards, Guestbook Other________________ Total Other Expenses $0.00 $0.00 Grand Total $0.00 $0.00
  30. 30. P a g e | 30 Muslim Wedding Planner Budget Estimator (For Spreadsheets, please go to the site, Budget Goal $ 25,000.00 1. Set a budget goal Default % Reception 30 Catering 15 $ Amount $ 7,500.00 $ 3,750.00 $ 1,750.00 $ 1,250.00 $ 1,250.00 $ 2,000.00 Decoration 7 Flowers 5 Rings 5 Honeymoon 8 Dress & other Apparel 2. Adjut Default % $ 6 1,500.00 $ 4 1,000.00 Gifts, Favors Photography + Videography Other $ 8 2,000.00 $ 10 2,500.00 $ 2 500.00 $ - TOTAL $ 100 25,000.00 Wedding Planner Invites 3. Make sure the Percentage total 100%