Weddings are important for Egyptians, as they were the first civilisation to establish civil marriage laws. These days, their love for intricate beauty and colours is reflected in their traditional wedding dresses. Such dresses come in colours ranging from purple to brown, gold to the conventional white. Although traditional wedding dress style has been altered to project a more contemporary look, certain elements are kept to symbolise the uniqueness of Egyptian culture.
The traditional Egyptian wedding dress is usually very long, so long that the material hangs on the floor. This allows adequate space for draping and for colourful accents, decorations and embellishments characteristic of the ancient Egyptian style of clothing. Egyptian dresses typically come with angular embroidery located at or above the hem. Some Egyptian women choose to wear a white gown that is decorated with skilful needlework patterns that run from top to bottom. Wedding gowns are often designed to have several pleats and folds, too. The structured gown is the one of the most common Egyptian wedding dress styles.
A typical Egyptian wedding gown would be considered incomplete without gold accents, because gold is a popular colour among Egyptian queens and the upper class. Wedding gowns also can include a gold panel. One of the most outstanding features of a typical Egyptian gown is a bust area decorated with intricate gold details. Egyptian brides also complement their wedding gown by wearing gold shoes.
The traditional Egyptian wedding gown usually comes with a shawl that is used as a headdress. Wedding tradition forbids the revelation of the bride’s face to the visitors; the unveiling of the bride is only intended for the husband and her family to witness. Shawls cover the bride’s entire face except her eyes. Such shawls are adorned by golden sequins and beads that hang above the bride’s forehead. This style enhances a woman’s features and also preserves feminine mystery.
Even though Egyptian brides cover their entire body and face, they do not sweat as much. The secret is in the type of fabric they use in their wedding dresses: linen. This fabric gives women the comfort and coolness that allow them to move freely. However, sometimes women choose more formal and sophisticated fabrics, such as silk, for their gown.
Over the years, henna art has been adapted into the Egyptian wedding tradition. It is customary for the bride to have her hands decorated with henna tattoos. The painting session usually takes place a day before the wedding and is one of the main activities conducted in an all-women get-together. The bride has the option to have her feet painted as well. In addition, the bride adorns herself with jewellery such as collars, bracelets and round earrings that are made out of gold and other precious stones.