Samana Siddiqui, SoundVision Foundation, Bridgeview, Illinois
There are plenty of things to consider in wedding planning and arrangement. These are a few things which are either unknown or forgotten:
1. Invite the poor
According to one Hadith, the worst meal is the feast of a Walima in which rich people are invited and poor people are left out.
Don’t let your Walima be a class-based affair. Make sure that all guests are welcome, regardless of their economic situation.
2. Invite a multiethnic audience
Make your wedding party more representative of the Ummah (the worldwide Muslim community) by inviting Muslims of different ethnic backgrounds, whether it’s the local Imam and his family who are Turkish, the African-American Muslima who accepted Islam recently or the Lebanese family in your neighborhood.
3. Practice gender privacy at your wedding
This means providing women-only space where sisters who observe different levels and types of Hijab feel comfortable.
Most sisters like to dress up for a wedding, but they want to enjoy themselves without being watched by strange men. Also remember that your other guests have nothing to lose with this kind of set up so in the end, providing for women-only space works out for the best for everyone.
There are different ways to accommodate women-only space in a hall.
You can have separate rooms for men and women. This is the ideal solution for maximum privacy.
You can have a room in which there is a curtain or a row of tall plants.
In larger halls, you can make two distinct areas.
If your family tradition is not to have weddings arranged in this way, consider this: you will Insha Allah (if Allah wills) receive Allah’s blessings if you do so for seeking to accommodate your guests and trying to observe an Islamic practice which has been in place for about 1400 years.
In programs where women-only space is provided, children need to be divided up between parents. Older boys should stay with their dads. Older girls stay with mom. Young girls who are toilet trained can also go with dad.
It should also be remembered that professional photographers can violate the privacy of individuals by taking photos or videos without their consent. If you are taking photos or videos make sure not to include non-relatives or those who do not want their picture taken.
4. Set up a hospitality line
This is a line of hosts who will welcome guests when they arrive at the wedding.
Those who will be included in the hospitality line need to be told in advance that they will be part of it. They should not be told once they reach the hall for the wedding.
5. Have the hosts make rounds during dinner
When guests are digging into dinner, hosts should go around, making sure everyone has what they need and inviting those who are finished to take more.
6. Set the stage
It should be decided by the hall committee who will sit on stage at the wedding and exactly where. This has to be done carefully. The feelings of relatives and close family friends are important to consider when making decisions about this.
7. Make sure to set up a gift table
Where are you going to put all those goodies? Set up a specific gift table near the stage with a sign saying “Please put gifts here. Thank you.”
8. Mind the bathrooms
Take into account how many guests are coming and see if the washrooms at the hall are big enough. If it’s a large gathering, request hall administrators to have a cleaning person come in every half hour or so to clean up quickly in between.
Also, if one of the prayers occurs during the wedding, that means the washrooms will be used for Wudu (ablution before prayer). Ask the hall administrators to accommodate this by providing extra paper towels.
9. Avoid making unnecessary announcements
Avoid making unnecessary announcements of any sort during the program and keep the microphone close by so children do not mess around with it.