With each knock on the door, greetings of salam resonated through the home. Each family entered the house and stepped through to the backyard, transformed by beautiful floral arrangements, hand crafted by the bride’s mother. The warmth of the occasion blended seamlessly with the late afternoon sunshine that lit the space.
Magdy entered the backyard, cheerful as he engaged the other men in conversation. Meanwhile, Zaha and the other girls ran around upstairs, getting ready for the ceremony. Zaha looked beautiful and held an understated elegance about her even amidst the frenzy.
Zaha and Magdy were joined in marriage before an intimate gathering of friends and family. Their small ceremony in California was just a prelude to the rest of the celebrations that will continue with the full wedding in Egypt. I only wish I could be in there for the rest of it too! But I am so thankful to have been a witness to this beautiful ceremony.
There were so many beautiful little vignettes all around the backyard. Zaha’s mother is quite the gardener, with a wonderful artistic eye!
They had very traditional wedding favors: dried dates, almonds, and unrefined sugar.
Zaha’s mother brings Magdy into the backyard and shows him the layout for the ceremony.
I love capturing men looking dapper in candid moments.
Zaha prepares upstairs.
The nikah ceremony is the part of an Islamic wedding where the marriage contract is set out. Both Magdy and Zaha are joined by male witnesses to the contract, as the imam leads in a sermon. Zaha even had one more witness not shown in this photo, but you’ll see later…
The imam speaks of Allah and what is asked of men and women.
Zaha’s cousin and childhood friend look on.
Magdy and Zaha repeat their consent in Arabic and English three times each.
They exchange the rings
And the marriage license is signed, next to a beautiful copy of the Qur’an.
The witness I previously alluded to! Zaha’s father was unable to attend the nikah ceremony, as he was already in Egypt. But Zaha’s cousins helped out by skyping him in as a surprise!
He watched the whole thing, and had to keep admonishing Magdy for taking off his floral necklace after the ceremony.
As soon as the ceremony was completed, the sun went down, and the celebrations were just beginning. Not only was this a special occasion, but it fell during the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. It’s tradition to break the fast with a date, as shown on the right, and prayer.
The food was absolutely amazing, a combination of homemade Egyptian and Pakistani food. And these were only some of the appetizers. There was so much wonderful food for dinner and dessert too.
Zaha and Magdy steal away for some photos just after sunset. I love the stringed lights she put up all around the yard.
And at the end of the night, a variety of desserts and a delicious slice of cake.
Congratulations, Zaha & Magdy! Wishing you all the best in Egypt and beyond.