Thursday, May 7, 2015


You just attended a wedding so, naturally, everyone around you will ask, “So how was it?” Usually, your answer revolves around the food, the drinks (or lack of), the music, what the bride wore, what others wore, the giveaways, the decorations, how early or how late food is served... All matters you have nothing to do with planning or in implementing. 

I just came back from a wedding in Ramallah, Palestine so it’s still fresh in my mind. Here’s one truth that I’ve learned after 20+ years of attending weddings: Whether or not you’re going to have a good time depends entirely on YOU! 

Here are eight do's and don'ts for ensuring a good time at your next occasion: 

1. Do get to know members of the wedding party leading up to the wedding, even if it means getting a hair or nail appointment at the same time and place as the bride or groom’s family. In Ramallah, I had lunch with the groom, bride and her family the day before the wedding and got my hair done with some relatives. You may not have access to (or enough time with) the bride and groom who are busy and maybe anxious about their day, but any personal connection with the family before the wedding ceremony and party will make it much easier to connect with them at the party itself. 

2. Don’t go hungry to a wedding. We all know that food at weddings in the Arab world is served late, so just accept this fact and don’t expect appetizers on the table. When I’m hungry, I get moody and there’s little that can get my mind off that grumbling sensation in my stomach. Yet it’s not like I have time for a light meal prior to an event when I’ve been busy all day with barely enough time to pull off a decent look for the wedding! But I finally discovered those dark chocolate, peanut butter balls that fill me up after just having two (any small protein rich snack will do). That, with plenty of water, allows for an energy packed evening. 

3. Don’t wait for an invitation to dance. Perhaps you feel you are so close to the couple and the family that you assume they will make sure to get you up. Here’s the reality though – the couple and everyone else is so caught up in the commotion of a big bash that they don’t have the time to think about you; it’s their day so let go of any pride that you may have and enjoy yourself no matter what unfolds.

4. Don’t worry about what people will think. Sometimes, when it’s not your immediate family’s wedding celebration, you feel hesitant to let loose on the dance floor. Sometimes I feel that I need to be reserved in how I dance so that I don’t get judgemental looks. Sometimes I think that I will feel awkward dancing when most people up are clearly closer to one another than I am to them. Those moments where I gave into my insecurities assured a lousy time at the wedding. Just like in point 3, you have to remember that everyone is focusing on themselves and looking to have a good time – you are not the centre of their attention! Plus, if a few people are going to stare or talk about you, just remember…they’re usually the ones sitting down and bored out of their minds! 

5. Do dance not just to have fun, but to connect as well. You will be surprised how quickly dance can tear down walls between people. I know that I have family members, acquaintances, colleagues that I feel some kind of connection to for one reason or another but find it difficult to actually click with. Perhaps their personality is very different from mine. Perhaps there is a generational gap or a religious, cultural or social divide that I can’t seem to get around. When I spot those people on the dance floor, I go straight to them, at least for one dance. At first I’m usually apprehensive but I don’t allow myself time to think about it. I literally dance my way to them without a second thought and it never fails that I rediscover time and time again the power of dance to break through real or imagined barriers. 

6. Don’t let any expectations about venue, food, d├ęcor or anything else keep you from having a good time. I know people who decide on which weddings to attend based on the venue. I must admit, I can be picky myself about food – a wedding at the Four Seasons or the Hyatt somehow does seem more appealing than a random wedding hall in an area of town I have never heard of. But hey, don’t be fooled. Some of the worst times I've had were at five-star hotel weddings while some of the best and most memorable were at simple gatherings.

7. Don’t get caught up in family politics. There are always hints of family tension, some more obvious than others. It exists in all families, even the picture-perfect kinds. If you’re aware of the issues, be neutral. Weddings are not the time or the place to be taking sides. Mingle with everyone, smile plenty and show some grace, compassion and humility – you will shine more than the dress you’re wearing and find yourself having a spectacular time for it! 

8. Don’t judge everything and everyone. Sure, it is part of our human nature to comment on the bride’s dress and make snarky remarks here and there about one thing or another. But if you find that your judgements are more negative than positive, the problem actually lies within you. If you make a conscious decision to see the beauty in your surroundings and the good in people, you will find them as you should – you’ll discover that you’re happier and more at peace as a result! 

Do you have more ideas to add to this list? Email me at with your tip – your piece of advice may appear in a future edition of Family Flavours magazine! 

The Candle Dance
Here, Norma, the bride, leads a procession of women to the dance floor where they take turns sharing in the candle dance with the bride
Mimi (left) and I (right) follow the bride in the Candle Dance

The men have their Cane Dance!

1 comment:

Sonia Salfity said...

Right on sister! Great advice!