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The Lebanese wedding dress code or... how to get dressed to a Lebanese wedding

Monday, November 28, 2016

This sartorial writing has the intent to discuss about something that most foreigners have trouble cracking: the Lebanese wedding dress code.


Said Mhamad Photography

Thanks to social media, we get a rare glimpse at six-figure #lebanesewedding receptions starring an immaculate bride and, if he’s lucky, her groom. Look closely and you’ll see glamorous friends and family forming a backdrop of chiffon and lace. These high-profile weddings set the style standards, and they set them high. But should all guests look red-carpet ready if they want to fit in?


Zuhair Murad wedding dresses


Azzi & Osta Collection 

There are no cut and dry rules when it comes to getting dressed for a wedding, but it helps to know what you’re getting into before you drop a few bills on something to wear. Like anywhere in the world, wedding dress codes in Lebanon are determined by an undefined mix of religion, culture, location and hard-to-pinpoint social factors. And now, how to dress for a Lebanese wedding:

1. Read the invitation, then read between the lines
Timing and venue are the two biggest dress code clues. Asking around about the wedding location to get an idea of how fancy it is, it seems to be wisely advisable. In fact, a daytime beach wedding in Jiyeh will most likely be less formal than a day wedding in a restaurant like Lola’s in Bikfaya. Day of the week is also a factor: Sunday afternoons imply a fun, casual affair, while Friday and Saturday nights tend to indicate more elaborate events.

Of course, the character of the happy couple is also an indication. In a more formal event, like for example a dry wedding,  you may feel comfortable wearing something a little bit more reserved, it will help you feel less in the spotlight. If you’re not close to the bride or groom, put on your private investigator hat and do a bit of digging – it’s better to be safe than sultry.

2. Color within the lines
If there is any universal wedding rule, it’s that white is off limits for guests. Never ever wear white to a wedding. Ever. “Big faux pas.”

Steer clear of trends that will look dated by the couple’s first anniversary – you don’t want to stand out in wedding photos for all the wrong reasons.

Before going for more certain and classic black color pick rule, that is always good choice although you may be one of those who have always thought that black is a color for funerals, please consider that even if in Lebanon is a sexy and dramatic color reserved for occasions, sometimes it can be too dramatic and sexy, especially in warmer months. So why not going for shiny and happy colors as well? Search for a dress that’s romantic, classic and timeless. Floral prints never go out of style, and crepe, ruffles and lace are always safe bets.

3. Shop smarter
The Lebanese are as generous with wedding invitations as they are with invitations for coffee or a home-cooked meal. If you arrived in the location with one suitcase, a wedding-worthy gown was probably not a top contender for space. And you’re probably regretting it now.

The trick once you get there is finding one perfect, versatile dress. You don’t need to pay crazy money for a dress, because prices for evening gowns somewhere are insane. Buy one with the goal of wearing it over and over again. For example, if you choose something simple, body conscious and black, you can alternatively wear it on a night out. Dress up a basic look with a statement accessory, which you can update frequently without too much damage to your wallet.

4. Your usual beauty routine? Do that, but more
We nowadays  tend to rely better on a chignon and a swipe of red lipstick to look pulled together. Surely the Lebanese find this laid-back, all-American look endearing? There’s a word in Arabic everybody should probably use: mrattab, meaning proper. They wouldn’t think it looks mrattab. Of course you’re not the kind of woman who’d let a crowd of perfectly coifed glamazons bully you into getting a "proper" brushing. But why not use this as an excuse to pamper yourself just a little? Every woman deserves to have soft, shiny hair once in a while.

5. But don’t go too far outside your comfort zone
Be conscious of the scarlet “M” (for mrattab) but don’t try to be something you’re not. Wear something short and wear comfortable shoes – dancing is the most fun part of the wedding and guests want to dance comfortably!

You can also do pants or a nice, full skirt with a crop top, but it has to have traces of eveningwear: beading somewhere, silk or a bit of lace. Long, dabke-prohibitive gowns, she says, are typically reserved for guests closest to the bride and groom.

It’s very rooted in Lebanese culture to get dressed up. In general, they tend to be fancier than Europeans and Americans, even with their daily dress.

Keeping that in mind will help you understand the mindset if, as a foreigner, you feel more simply dressed than the people around you at a Lebanese wedding.

Courtesy of BEIRUT BASED


Maison Rabih Kayrouz Collection



Sandra Mansour Collection 


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