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Pakistani Weddings - What Really Happens

"A wedding guide for those young, soon to be married Pakistanis, and indeed, those poor unfortunate non-Pakistani souls who, unbeknownst to them, have incurred God's wrath and decided to marry into a Pakistani family."
- The Alif Team

The Fights

No Pakistani wedding is complete without a fight or two. Be it the guest list or the color of napkins, there is always something to have a good ol’ fashioned battle royale over. Although normally inconsequential, these fights can sometimes boil over, with people (often close relatives) refusing to attend the wedding and canvassing others to do the same. The reason? No one (boycotees included) is really sure - though it most probably has its roots in the fact that the day of the wedding (planned 6 months ago) has fallen on the same day as a senior auntie’s dentist appointment. Said auntie was well within her right to ask the bride’s parents to change the day of the wedding. The parents refused outright, resulting in some 'izzat' (respect) related problems for the auntie and other members of her clique.

The Wedding Card

Always a joy to read the spelling mistakes and seventy-seven names crammed into a wedding card the size of a postage stamp.

An example:
"Mr and Mrs Ahmed rekwest the pleasure of your company at the Walima Seremoneee of their beloved shon,


Grandosn of the late Tariq Ahmed and Maryam Hussain. Newphew of Hasan Khan, Cousin of Tanveer Yusuf, Ex-husband of Fatimah Raja, Friend of Ameena Sarwar."

The Guest list

IMG 8140
Image: flickr
Ahh...the guest list. Your social circle tops well over a thousand. Unfortunately, the Royal Albert hall was booked out on July 17th so you had to make do with the local town hall instead – capacity: 250. For a reason unknown to anyone bar God himself, 'desi' parents are compelled to invite all sorts of barely related weirdos to the wedding.

Remember that questionably homosexual 'uncle' you met at your cousins' BBQ? - Yup, he's invited. Your close friend of 15 years, Ahmed? No space for him unfortunately.

Guest lists are hard - their construction requires a lot of time, effort and patience. They also require common sense, something which in a wedding household is strictly at a premium. So stupid, idiotic, and downright barmy decisions will be made.

The Rituals

The rituals...deep breaths. All great cultures have weird and wonderful wedding customs. The Jews hold the groom up on a chair and dance round him - sweet. They proceed by breaking a glass - small scale vandalism, but again, sweet nonetheless. Pakistani wedding customs on the other hand range from theft and force feeding to eerily disturbing levels of emotional blackmail.

  • Theft:
Image: Zaufishan©
The theft of course, comes in the form Grand Theft Khussa (shoe). For those unfamiliar with indo-pak culture, the wedding celebrations cullminate in a somewhat bizarre ritual where sisters/cousins from the brides' side steal (yes, that’s right - steal) the grooms shoes. Like a swarm of salwar kameez clad locust, they swoop in, literally wrestling the shoes off the poor sod’s feet. He is left there, bewildered - in a state of shock. He has essentially been mugged by a group of sissy girls in front of his family and friends.

If the loss of dignity wasn’t bad enough, the groom is now obliged to pay obscene amounts of money for the safe return of his shoes... So begins the bargaining. What would you pay for the return of uncomfortable shoes that reveal your short stature? £10...£15 at the most. Yet for some reason, the idiot groom ends up forking over £300 to get his shoes back. It is the ghetto equivalent of being mugged for your Nokia 3210 and being forced to buy it back from the mugger at over 10 times the market rate. Does nobody else find this disturbing? I swear, come my wedding day, I would rather walk out of the banqueting hall bare foot, than pay for the shoes I never wanted to wear in the first place. Or better yet, maybe I’ll fight back. Let’s see how brave the girls are when I decide to throw a few punches. One black eye = saving of £300. Well worth it if you ask me.

  • Force-feeding:
Laddoo...wo bhi motichoor ke!!!
Image: flickr
At some point in midst of wedding fever, the sodding groom will be force-fed ladoo (an Indian sweet, spherical in shape... mucus orange in colour. See picture) by a group of about 33 barely related 'aunties'.

Each auntie will turn up with about half a ladoo, ceremoniously forcing it down the grooms throat. In a period lasting no more than half an hour, the groom will have eaten the equivalent of about 10 boxes of Ambala - adding an extra 7 kg to his weight in the process.

The Number of Events

Pakistani weddings have enough events to confuse most attendees into believing that they have been invited to the wedding of a grand Venetian prince, not Mr. Khan’s 20 year old son. The mendhi, the pre-mendhi, the pre-pre-mendhi, the registration, the shadhi, the nikkah, the valima, musical nights, laptop evenings, egg and spoon race...arrgh. By the time the wedding festivities are over, the happy couple have had 3 kids - with twins on the way.

The Cameraman

Seeva & Sathya's wedding 3
Image: flickr
Perhaps the single most annoying person on the face of the earth. The semi-professional cameraman scours the wedding hall, 1987 camera in hand with an absurdly bright light attached. He will invariably catch you when you are stuffing your face with kebabs, or when you have a few grains of rice stuck to your chin.

His light is almost blinding; comparable, perhaps, to a near death experience, yet he still keeps it on full blast, with an astonishing disregard for the pawns in his sordid Bollywood debut.

The Clothes

The bride comes in wearing a red bed sheet embedded with sequins and the groom is dressed like Aladdin. I am yet to see a Pakistani wedding where something other than this is the case.

The Segregation

Oh boy. Segregated weddings just do not work. The intention is fantastic, seperate the men from the women, minimise free-mixing, promote Islamic culture. Great. Unfortunately, this holy intention isn’t shared by all. The organisers seem to think that a mere silk curtain will prevent wife-seeking loners from the men’s side from venturing into enemy teritory. The sanctity of the curtain will last for about half an hour after which the first breach will occur - usually a close male relative/uncle. Before long, the curtain will fall - much like the Berlin wall, with folk flocking to either side rejoicing in their liberating victory over the tyrant organisers. A bit of advice – segregation will only work with an electric fence. And perhaps a few dogs patrolling the buffer zone.

And so, there we have it. A guide. A review - call it what you want. When it comes to the circus show that is a Pakistani wedding, there's always one looming on the horizon.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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  1. THIS WAS A CLASSIC POST!!!! Oh boy, so true!!!! This one should go in the Zaufishan Blog Hall of Fame! 

  2. that was amazing!!!! i laughed so hard! its so true too! Lol at 'Have incurred gods wrath' :D

  3. Kiwi_england15/07/2011, 19:10


  4. frillsandthrills16/07/2011, 10:39

    This post provided such good cultural insight. It must be so fun to attend

  5. This was real cute lol. I'm Australian of Turkish background and have never been to a Pakistani wedding, but it sounds like a big day.

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  7. Syed Mhd Mohsin18/07/2011, 17:51

    LoL ! This is Sooo True! I Live in India and See Stuff like this in All the Weddings! Sister! you forgot the Important Part - THE BIRYANI! Ha!

    But let us all remember 

    Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The most blessed Nikah is the one with the least expenses.” [Bayhaqi] ♥

    May Allah SWT Guide us All . Aameen

  8. LMAOOOOO this is the most funniest yet true piece i read..bangladeshi culture isnt that far from this ..hahahahhh very well written mashALlah :) sharing this on fb 

  9. whereartthoumuslimo20/07/2011, 15:07

    Very true account!!! hahaha You covered it all from the annoying camera man, typos in wedding cards and arguments over petty stuff!

  10. indian here..
    im halfway there and just laughing..so similar to indian weddings:D...
    n u better keep ur words..walk out bare-feet, punches et al.. :D
    amazing read :)

    "the curtain will fall - much like the Berlin wall, with folk flocking to either side rejoicing in their liberating victory over the tyrant organisers, segregation will only work with an electric fence or a few dogs patrolling the buffer zone."-LOL

  11. this is why I absolutely hate Pakistani weddings!!

  12. See Spot Grow02/08/2011, 20:28

    Very interesting insight.

    I just realized that my friend of several years did not invite me to her pakistani wedding. I was wondering what I was missing.

    For the record, I'm neither Pakistani nor Muslim....I wonder if that was the reason why I wasn't invited....maybe the rituals are just too out there for me.

  13. Ah no sister Mehreen, Pakistani weddin's are khamazing. The barbie doll glamour, relatives from the bronze era, a missing groom and money wars. Without Pakistani weddin's, well, life  as we know it would lose its entertainment value. Ramadan mubarak!

  14. ...And a wedding that the underprivileged gets invited to. Many a shaadi has undergone where a prince is imported but the miskeen on the street is shooed away. Allahu 'akbar.
    Ramadan mubarak br Muhammad.

  15. hehee... just reading this now and after having our walimah in Karachi in April (his being the pakistani me being the non-desi) I can totally relate to some of the things you mentioned... I was gutted when I saw the tons and tons of wedding invitations with our names spelt wrong.. His family didnt seem that bothered though, I mean the people spelt their own sons name wrong!! I could understand them being blase about my name, but his??? I didnt see any fights alhamdulillah, but I sense that was being of my lack of knowledge of the urdu language when there were people who I didnt see again that holiday and from the looks from people.. Body language is universal!!! We didnt have many traditions due to my family not being there and the fact that we already had the nikah in London :D hehee... a plan that worked out very well lol :) Thanks for this sis

  16. Welcome to the statistical drama of South Asian weddings! May Allah bless you union and grant it bliss away from Pakistani pitfalls. Ameen, Ameen. 
    ps. A marriage dua card: http://www.zaufishan.co.uk/2010/10/dua-marriage-dua-place-cards-printed.html.

  17. This is not restricted to Pakistani phenomenon, Muslims in India also share a similar case.. of slips and jest!

  18. Salaam,
    this is hilarious.  I am in stitches and the kids are looking at me like I have lost my mind.

    This sooo reminds me of all the weddings in my family including mine.  This is why no weddings are as fun as Pakistani ones.  This is also why my husband says the one day a man gets made into the biggest foolin the world is his wedding day.

  19. This is pretty funny and a lot of it is true but some parts are just plain rude. "The Bride wears a red SHEET decorated with sequins"?!? The groom looks like "Aladdin"?!? This article may be funny for pakistanis who attend a lot of a weddings and understand but it is definitely not appropriate and is misleading for non-pakistanis!


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