Wedding Traditions of Yemen


Haylah Kassim

Weddings in Yemen carry so many traditions. They are once in a lifetime unforgettable experiences. They have their own dress codes, dances, men/women parties, and food. Also, it must be said that the Yemeni culture is mixed with the Islamic teachings, so “many Yemeni traditions come from Islamic laws,” says Mutee Kassim.

Before anything takes place in a Yemeni wedding, the tradition dictates that the groom and his family go to the bride’s family on a formal visit and ask for the bride’s hand from her father or legal guardian. During this visit, the groom’s mother would take a set of gold jewelry for the bride as a gift, and the groom would give the father of the bride a dowry, usually in the amount of 5 thousand dollars or more. Tawfic Kassim, recalls when he and  his father went to his future wife’s family and asked for her hand. “Her father asked for a 2 thousand dollars dowry, and we took a very fancy jewelry set with us,” he said. Usually, it is during this visit that the groom sees the bride and then is not allowed to see her until the wedding day.

Weddings in Yemen are not one day. Men have their own parties for three days while women have their own parties for a whole week. In the men’s parties, the traditional dress is “Thoob” which is a loose ankle-length garment with long sleeves, usually white but can also be in other colors. The parties take place in either a huge tent built in the neighborhood of the groom or in a fancy lounge.  A singer or a band usually comes and sings while the men socialize and dance a traditional Yemeni dance. Mutee Kassim, says that the most known traditional dance is “bara’a” where the men use their “Jambia” (fashion dagger worn around the waist) to sway and move while dancing.

For women, they start their parties a week before the wedding day. According to Almansori, “each day the women wear a different dress color.” The first day, they wear a silver dress with silver jewelry. The second day, they wear a gold dress with gold jewelry. On the third day (Henna day), they wear a green dress, and they put “Henna” on their hands and legs. On the fourth day they wear a red dress with gold jewelry.  On the fifth day they wear anything they want, and finally on the last two days they wear two different white dresses.

On the last party day, which is the wedding day, there is a huge feast and then a different singer or band comes and the big party starts.