If you know anything about the Arab culture it is all about family. Everything they do, family comes first. And if you are lucky enough to befriend one that falls in love with you, then you have found a good thing.
My exposure to the culture was formed at a young age and still holds a dear place in my heart. It was with the Abadi family that I learned about the Muslim faith, I learned to eat Middle Eastern food. Curse in Arab… (it’s the first thing we all learn to do in every language, hello; and then we learn how to tell you where to go fast). All jokes aside, those 10 plus years lasted a lifetime and my passion began for the culture.
In middle school I fell in love with the history of Egypt, the wonders of the culture, and it was in my young adulthood that the connection was made about Africa, Nubians & the Egyptians, Arab people, and the bond that keeps both cultures so dear to me.
All I ever knew about the Middle Eastern culture was love and power. So as an adult, where my knowledge of this culture was limited only to history books and the few people I came in contact with in the US, the desire to visit the lands increased tremendously. Hence, I made the trek to Egypt—the land of what many African American’s claim as their royal bloodline, and which later led me to Qatar, and finally the futuristic city of Dubai.
It was there that I met my dear Princess Leen, and her husband at her sister’s wedding on the rooftop of the Jumeirah Ramada Hotel. Our first wedding–uninvited by the couple, so rightfully so we labeled ourselves the “Wedding Crashers.” My lifestyle editor and I dressed like we were invited guest to the festivities, going to the Oscars, and ate like the King’s palace had granted us permission to feast at his table. We partied like it was “1999” (Prince’s song-1999) and drank like we were in water. We had a blast.
We were treated like family and never looked back. We made friends and now we get to share with you my dear friend’s sister’s wedding first the combination of traditional customs and modern western blending. Nothing short of fabulous.
So the next time you are invited to an Arab wedding, take them up on it; you won’t regret a single moment.
Your full name: Bride: Leen Hamarneh, Groom: Eyad Karadsheh
Your occupation: Hotelier – Marketing & Communications, Regional Manager for Oil and Gas
Your cultural background: Jordanian, Middle Eastern
What was the most important thing about planning your wedding? First and foremost, to have everything go as planned and for everybody to be happy from both sides of the families. My sister–the maid of honor–was an F&B and events planner expert at the time of the wedding at King Hussein’s club, which was a place for royalties and the society’s crème de la crème’s club, so she had planned top notch events, engagements and weddings; she had enormous contacts in that field.
So she basically helped me out a lot, and took over the planning of the wedding, taking my opinion and keeping me up to date, but of course I did meet the most important people along with her–photographer, florist, DJ, setup experts, etc.
What was one of the most important things about your culture that you wanted to incorporate in your wedding?
We share a very great tradition where when a couple’s wedding is close, both families come together and have a lot of celebrations days ahead, some of which are: bridal shower, groom’s bachelor party, bride’s party for young relatives and friends, a 2 day bride’s party at home, as well for the groom; where both families basically keep an open house starting during the evening time and staying up to very late hours, 2-3 even 4am, and inviting all our relatives and friends to enjoy lots of food, dancing, drinking and just enjoy the upcoming happy occasion.
One of the nights, the bride and her very close family and friends pay a visit to the groom’s party, and the next day the groom does the same, then each goes back to their own parties, luckily we lived close to each other.
Another very important tradition is what we call “Jaha” which is basically a part of a tribal tradition. Where the groom’s head men and women, family and friends, gather (without the groom and his best man, as they should go to church at this time) and go to the bride’s house to escort her to church. Before that, and even though everything is agreed on and set, the tradition is that the head of the groom’s family approaches the head of the bride’s family to request the hand of the bride in marriage. The event has a wonderful Jordanian combination of formal ceremony and informal twist about it. As they approach the bride’s house, they enter and are seated opposite another group of men of all ages who represent the bride’s family. The head of the groom’s family asks the bride’s hand in marriage and escorts their future daughter to church. Then the head of the bride’s family accepts the request, and blessings are given. Then they drink coffee and refreshments. Meanwhile, as this happens, the ladies of the groom’s family head–where the bride is seated–all greet each other. The ladies start singing traditional wedding songs and everyone dances. Once the men finishes, the bride’s uncle and father (in my case my father was in heaven so my older brother represented him) comes inside along with “Zaffeh” which is mainly a Jordanian folklore “band” that sings the typical wedding Jordanian songs while the uncle and the brother escort the bride outside of the house onto the wedding limo, then both families head to church, where the groom and his best man welcomes us. After the church ceremony, we then head to the reception venue. Same Zaffeh sings to the couple when they are ready to head out for the reception, where both families gather along with friends to welcome the newly weds, and sing and dance before the party starts, which consisted of approximately 550 people, yes that was a big wedding.
The vows: We basically had the church’s traditional vows; in our culture we don’t have this habit of having personalized vows to each other, but we do have another tradition. After the ceremony is over, the couple’s mother, father, sisters and brothers line up outside the church and receive congratulations of a long queue of guests, in our case there were over 600 people. In our tradition, we can invite all our families and friends and acquaintances to the church, but then we have selected people that are invited to the reception.
Over the past several years, Myrdith Leon-McCormack has evolved from one of the nation’s most successful Celebrity Manicurist, represented by Factory Downtown, to one of the most sought after branding experts with her firm MLM Represents and as a Huffington Post blogger.
Leon-McCormack, founder of MLM Represents, oversees all practice areas and is involved in providing strategic direction to select clients. Her particular area of expertise is advising clients on how to best leverage their brand as an asset to serve as a powerful leadership tool and drive business performance.
Leon-McCormack’s innovative strategies to connect consumers more effectively by associating them with the world’s most influential celebrities, musicians, arts, film and personalities has been part of her incredible success to collaborating with some of the industry’s most influential people in the world of the arts, music, and film. MLM Represents client list includes: Isaiah Washington, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Lois Samuels–the Vessel, and Justin Davis. Her new business has afforded her the opportunity to travel the world to great countries such as Egypt, Qatar, Dubai, London, France, Ireland, to name a few.
Leon-McCormack’s creative vision and strong knowledge of the entertainment and arts has created yet another venture with the weekly radio show, Keep It Moving w/Marsha Jews on WEAA 88.9 FM, a national public radio station, as Executive Entertainment Producer.
As the Editorial Director of World Bride Magazine, she drives the magazine into the 21st century where visions of people of color are seen in a more positive and progressive direction.