We arrived at the wedding hall. I got out of the car with my bags in hand desperately trying to keep the scarf on my head and over my face as we walked inside. We went to a little bridal room just past the entryway. Y’s sisters and mom finished getting ready while I put on my dress. I sat in one of the chairs against the side wall of the room as everyone ran around trying to finish preparing before the guests started to arrive.
The photographer, an Egyptian woman, came in and started taking pictures of the decor. At some point they removed the clips from my hair and attached the skirt to my dress. Y came into the room, smiled and took my hand. “Let’s go to see Gramma. She’s here,” he said to me. We walked into the main hall and there she was sitting on one of the couches near to the entrance. As soon as she saw us coming she started clapping. We greeted her, holding her hand and kissing her head. Moments later we returned to the bridal room to take pictures with his sisters and mom and then of just the two of us.
Y hurried off to the men’s section and the photographer continued to take my picture. She posed me, moved me around the room and asked for certain expressions…all in Arabic.
After she finished we both sat down and waited for the moment when I would enter the hall. I was so nervous. There were about 400 people in that other room and I only knew about 10 of them. For many of them it was the first time that they would see me and I think there were quite of few of them who came simply for that reason: to see Y’s American wife.
At some point Y’s mom came into the room smiling at me. She asked me if I was scared and I said yes. I think she felt for me, but quickly mentioned that that my friend and her mom were at the far end of the aisle and that she would come to sit with me on the stage after my entrance. I smiled and waited for them to call me to come out.
I stepped forward out of the room until the entrance to the hall was on my right. I turned and started to see all of the people to my left and to my right. Y’s oldest sister was in front of me next to the photographer. I took 3 steps and then paused on repeat until I reached the stairs of the stage. The entire time I was doing my best to smile, but I could feel my lip trembling slightly from nerves. I walked up the stairs, pausing for a picture and then stood in front of a white bench. Y’s sister adjusted my veil and the skirt of my dress as I looked out at all of the guests.
Eventually, she guestured for me to sit and with a smile asked me if I was alright. I think at that point I could finally breathe and I smiled back at her with a nod of my head. Soon after the singer began to sing and the women began to dance.
My very dear friend, a Saudi woman who I met in VT back in 2011, with her mom and her sister came to congratulate me. My friend stayed and sat next to me on on the stage. I felt instantly more comfortable in that moment. She was also a new bride and could understand how I was feeling. It was a mixture of nervousness and utter excitement.
Y’s mom and her friend came on the stage and started dancing. We clapped our hands and they also came to congratulate me, kissing me on the cheek and holding my hand.
During the reception the singer sang various requests from the guests, the servers brought around trays of snacks and sweets, single roses with a piece of chocolate were distributed to the guests, and women walked on and off the stage to dance.
It was a beautiful and wonderfully memorable night that ended with me putting on my abaya, exiting the building and getting in the car with the love of my life.
Y’s family did a lot in planning the wedding in just two months. They chose everything and it was far more than I had ever imagined. I’m so grateful and I feel truly blessed.
However, I must admit, the biggest gift that I received that day was seeing his mom, sisters and grandmother smile. Their happiness for us made my heart content.