Planning a Non-Traditional Saudi Wedding

19 Mar 2024·15 min read

Planning a wedding in Saudi Arabia is a grand affair, filled with rich traditions and cultural customs. However, for those looking to have a non-traditional wedding outside of wedlock, the process can be quite different. In this article, we will explore the unique aspects of planning a wedding without marriage in Saudi Arabia, including the ceremony outside of the traditional marital norms.

Planning a Non-Traditional Saudi Wedding

Key Takeaways:

  • Planning a non-traditional wedding in Saudi Arabia requires a thorough understanding of the cultural customs and traditions.
  • Weddings outside of wedlock in Saudi Arabia challenge the societal norms and expectations.
  • The non-traditional wedding ceremony should be respectful and considerate of both families involved.
  • It is important to navigate the legal and social implications of a wedding without marriage in Saudi Arabia.
  • Communication and transparency with all parties involved are key to a successful non-traditional wedding in Saudi Arabia.

The Importance of Weddings in Saudi Society

Weddings hold immense significance in Saudi society, serving as major social gatherings where families come together to celebrate the union of two individuals. With over 150,000 ceremonies held annually, weddings are a spectacle of grandeur and opulence, offering a platform for families to showcase their wealth and social standing.

The customs and traditions surrounding Saudi weddings vary across regions. However, they are generally held in a manner similar to Bedouin and rural weddings, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the country. The wedding process in Saudi Arabia typically includes pre-wedding rituals, the main wedding ceremony, and post-wedding rites that symbolize the transition into married life.

"Weddings in Saudi Arabia are more than just a union between two individuals; they are a reflection of family values, cultural traditions, and societal norms."


These weddings entail elaborate preparations, meticulous attention to detail, and the participation of close-knit communities. They are not only an occasion for the bride and groom to celebrate their love and commitment, but also a momentous event that brings together families, friends, and acquaintances from far and wide. Saudi weddings act as a catalyst for building and strengthening social bonds, fostering a sense of unity and belonging within the community.

Furthermore, weddings provide a platform for cultural exchange and exhibit the rich tapestry of Saudi Arabian traditions and customs. Participants have the opportunity to witness and embrace age-old practices such as traditional dances, intricate henna designs, and the recitation of poetic verses that have been passed down through generations. These cherished traditions add depth and beauty to the celebration, infusing it with a unique cultural flair.

Social Gatherings and Festivities

Weddings in Saudi Arabia are not limited to a single event but encompass a series of gatherings and festivities that extend for several days. These celebrations allow families and friends to come together, creating a joyous atmosphere filled with laughter, music, and dance.

The emphasis on social gatherings during weddings reflects the strong communal bonds and collective spirit of Saudi society. It is during these moments that relationships are nurtured, friendships are strengthened, and memories are created to be cherished for a lifetime.

Key Aspects of Saudi WeddingsSignificance
Customs and traditionsPreservation of cultural heritage
Social gatheringsStrengthening communal bonds
Wealth displaySymbol of social standing
Cultural exchangeSharing traditions and practices
Multi-day celebrationsBuilding lasting memories


As Saudi weddings continue to be an integral part of the country's culture and society, they represent an array of traditions, values, and customs that make them truly unique and awe-inspiring.

Arranged Marriages in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, arranged marriages continue to be the prevalent approach to finding a life partner. Couples in Saudi society are not allowed to socialize or engage in sexual relationships before marriage. As a result, arranged marriages are seen as a means to ensure religious and cultural compatibility between families.

Over half of the marriages in Saudi Arabia are endogamous and consanguineous arranged marriages. Endogamy refers to the practice of marrying within one's social or cultural group, while consanguinity refers to marrying close relatives. These types of marriages strengthen familial bonds and maintain social and economic ties between families.

When choosing a bride in Saudi Arabia, several factors come into play. The bride's cleanliness, physical appearance, behavior, education, and qualities as a potential housewife are all considered. Families meet to discuss the potential marriage, and it is customary for the groom's family to seek the approval of the bride's family.

"In Saudi Arabia, arranged marriages are deeply rooted in tradition and cultural values. They serve as a means to preserve social cohesion and ensure compatibility between families."

Factors Considered in Choosing a Bride in Saudi Arabia:
Physical Appearance
Qualities as a Housewife


Arranged marriages form the foundation of family ties and cultural traditions in Saudi Arabia. They play a significant role in shaping familial relationships and ensuring social harmony within the community.

Conditions for a Saudi Arabian Marriage

Marriage in Saudi Arabia entails complying with specific conditions to ensure legal recognition and protection. Here are the essential requirements and procedures:

Civil Registration

One of the crucial steps in formalizing a marriage in Saudi Arabia is the civil registration process. The couple must complete this procedure to have their marriage legally recognized by the authorities.

Islamic Ceremony

In addition to civil registration, an Islamic ceremony is essential for a valid marriage in Saudi Arabia. The couple must perform the nikah, the Islamic marriage contract, and the walima, the wedding banquet. These ceremonies are not only religiously significant but also legally binding.

Legal Requirements

To meet the legal requirements for marriage in Saudi Arabia, couples must adhere to the following:

  1. The man and woman must be of legal age, which is 18 years old.
  2. Both individuals must have the capacity to consent to the marriage.
  3. The couple must not have any blood relations that prohibit marriage due to consanguinity.

It's important to note that only couples who adhere to Islamic beliefs are allowed to get married in Saudi Arabia. Marriages performed in faiths other than Islam are not recognized by the court.

The legal requirements and conditions for marriage in Saudi Arabia emphasize the significance of Islamic customs and regulations in the marital union.


Planning a Non-Traditional Saudi Wedding 02
Conditions for a Saudi Arabian MarriageDetails
Civil RegistrationCompletion of civil registration is necessary for legal recognition.
Islamic CeremonyThe nikah (Islamic marriage contract) and the walima (wedding banquet) are required.
Legal RequirementsBoth parties must be of legal age, have the capacity to consent, and not have prohibited blood relations.

By meeting these conditions, couples can ensure that their marriage is legally recognized and protected in Saudi Arabia.

Marriage Process for Foreigners in Saudi Arabia

Foreigners residing in Saudi Arabia who wish to get married can do so in the embassy or consulate of their home country. This process allows them to legally solemnize their marriage while adhering to their own country's laws and procedures.

In order to proceed with the marriage, the couple needs to submit the necessary documents and identification to the embassy or consulate. These documents typically include:

  • A valid passport and residence permit
  • Proof of eligibility to marry
  • Birth certificates
  • Certificate of no impediment (if applicable)
  • Divorce or death certificates (if applicable)

It is important to note that all documents must be translated into Arabic by an accredited translation service and authenticated by the appropriate authorities.

Once all the required documents are submitted and approved, the embassy or consulate will schedule the marriage ceremony. The marriage will be officiated according to the laws and regulations of the couple's home country.

It is worth mentioning that non-Muslim foreigners cannot legally marry in Saudi Arabia, as all marriages in the country must be conducted in accordance with Islamic law.

Getting married in the embassy or consulate provides a convenient and legally recognized option for foreigners residing in Saudi Arabia. It allows them to celebrate their love and commitment while complying with the legal requirements of their home country.

Traditional Saudi Arabian Marriage Traditions

In Saudi Arabia, weddings are steeped in rich cultural traditions that have been passed down through generations. These traditions add depth and meaning to the celebration, making it a special and unforgettable event. Let's explore some of the traditional Saudi Arabian marriage customs:

Tulba: Seeking Permission and Blessings

One of the significant pre-wedding rituals is the tulba, where the groom visits the bride's family to officially ask for her hand in marriage. This visit demonstrates the groom's respect and commitment to the bride's family. It is a moment where elders bestow their blessings on the couple, and the bride's family welcomes the groom into their home.

Engagement Ceremony: Intimate Gathering

The engagement ceremony is an intimate gathering of close family members and friends. It is an opportunity for both families to come together and celebrate the upcoming union. During the engagement ceremony, the couple exchanges rings as a symbol of their commitment and future together.

Henna Parties: Celebrating the Bride

Henna parties hold a special place in Saudi Arabian wedding traditions. These parties are dedicated to the bride and involve the application of intricate henna designs on her hands and feet. It is a time for women to gather and celebrate the bride's impending marriage, adorned with beautiful henna patterns.

Wedding Reception: Announcements, Singing, and Dancing

The wedding reception is the grand finale of the celebrations. It is a joyous event filled with announcements, traditional sahjeh singing, and energetic dancing. Family, friends, and guests come together to shower the couple with blessings, gifts, and prayers for a long and blissful marriage.

Throughout the wedding reception, the atmosphere is vibrant, filled with the joy and happiness of the newlyweds and their loved ones. It is an opportunity to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia through music, dance, and traditional customs.

These traditional Saudi Arabian marriage traditions create a unique and memorable wedding experience that reflects the deep cultural roots of the country. They emphasize the importance of family, community, and the preservation of customs that have been cherished for centuries.

Laws, Rights, and Duties in Saudi Arabian Marriages

In Saudi Arabia, marriages are governed by specific laws that define the rights and responsibilities of married couples. These laws cover various aspects, including polygamy, the minimum age for marriage, and the dress code for married couples.

Polygamy: Polygamy is legal in Saudi Arabia, allowing Muslim men to have up to four wives simultaneously. However, strict conditions must be met for a man to enter into a polygamous marriage. He must demonstrate that he can treat all wives equally in terms of financial support and emotional care.

Minimum Age for Marriage: The minimum age for marriage in Saudi Arabia is 18 years old for both men and women. Marriages involving minors are nullified by law. This age requirement aims to protect young individuals from entering into marriage before they are emotionally and mentally ready.

Dress Code for Married Couples: Married couples in Saudi Arabia are expected to adhere to a dress code that reflects modesty and propriety. Both men and women are required to dress conservatively, avoiding clothes that are revealing or excessively tight. Traditional clothing, such as abayas for women and thobes for men, is often worn.

Moreover, in the context of a Saudi Arabian marriage, it is important to note that Sharia Islamic Law is followed in courts. This means that marriages performed in faiths other than Islam are not recognized by the legal system.

Understanding and abiding by these laws is crucial for ensuring a legally valid and culturally appropriate marriage in Saudi Arabia.

Planning a Non-Traditional Saudi Wedding 03
PolygamyLegal for Muslim men to have up to four wives simultaneously
Minimum Age for Marriage18 years old for both men and women
Dress Code for Married CouplesModest and conservative attire
Recognition of MarriagesMarriages performed in faiths other than Islam are not recognized

The Venue Selection for a Saudi Wedding

When planning a Saudi wedding, one of the most important decisions is selecting the perfect venue. The venue sets the tone for the entire celebration and plays a significant role in creating a memorable experience for the couple and their guests.

Saudi weddings come in various sizes and styles, ranging from intimate gatherings to extravagant affairs. The choice of venue depends on the couple's preferences, budget, and the number of guests they plan to invite. It could be a tent set up in a picturesque park or a luxurious ballroom in a grand hotel.

While the aesthetics and amenities are essential considerations in venue selection, there's one crucial factor that should not be overlooked - the dance floor. Dancing is an integral part of Saudi weddings, and having a spacious and sturdy dance floor is of utmost importance.

The traditional dabke performances, characterized by lively rhythmic movements and synchronized footwork, are a highlight of Saudi weddings. The dance floor must be large enough to accommodate the spirited spirals and energetic steps of the dabke dancers. A well-designed dance floor enhances the overall ambiance and ensures that everyone can join in the celebrations.

Whether it's the couple's first dance or the joyous participation of family and friends, a well-appointed dance floor allows everyone to revel in the festive atmosphere. It provides a designated space for traditional dances and ensures that the celebration remains vibrant and engaging throughout the night.

When selecting a venue for a Saudi wedding, couples should prioritize finding a location that offers a spacious and sturdy dance floor. It is through the spirited dabke performances and joyous dancing that the love and happiness of the occasion truly come to life.

The Wedding Party in a Saudi Wedding

In a traditional Saudi wedding, the selection of the wedding party holds significant importance. It is not based on personal preferences or friendships but rather serves as a representation of different branches of the family. Each family is usually represented by one member in the wedding party, showcasing the unity and diversity of the extended family.

The selection process involves considering the importance of family peace and harmony. It is crucial to choose members who can maintain a cordial relationship and avoid any potential conflicts or disagreements that could disrupt the joyous occasion. The goal is to ensure that the wedding party members contribute to the overall atmosphere of happiness and celebration.

The wedding party members play various roles throughout the wedding festivities, from organizing pre-wedding events to participating in the main ceremony. They are responsible for carrying out traditional customs and ensuring that all family members are actively involved in the celebration.

The inclusion of representatives from each family branch also symbolizes the unity and strength of the extended family. It highlights the shared values, traditions, and customs that bind the families together and emphasizes the importance of familial relationships in Saudi Arabian society.

Invitations and RSVPs for a Saudi Wedding

When it comes to Saudi weddings, inviting everyone is a customary practice, regardless of whether they are likely to attend or not. Every individual holds a special place in the hearts of the couple and their families, and extending an invitation symbolizes the importance placed on their presence and blessings on this joyous occasion.

It is essential to honor the parents of the bride by including their names on the invitations, regardless of who is financially responsible for the wedding. This gesture acknowledges their significant role in the union of two families and showcases respect and gratitude.

As Saudi weddings are joyous events celebrated with extended families and friends, monitoring RSVPs plays a crucial role in making the necessary arrangements. It enables hosts to accommodate unexpected attendees and ensure everyone is warmly welcomed and comfortably accommodated.

Importance of Inviting Everyone

In Saudi culture, weddings are not just an occasion for the couple but a joyous celebration that involves the entire community. Inviting everyone is a way of demonstrating inclusivity, respect, and appreciation for the bonds that have been formed over the years.

By inviting all family members, friends, and acquaintances, regardless of the likelihood of their attendance, the couple affirms their commitment to maintaining and strengthening the relationships that are cherished within their social circle.

"Inviting everyone is a reflection of the values of hospitality, community, and togetherness deeply ingrained in Saudi Arabian culture."

Monitoring RSVPs for a Smooth Celebration

Monitoring RSVPs is an essential task that ensures the wedding celebration can be impeccably arranged and executed. It allows hosts to accurately estimate the number of guests and strategically plan the venue, seating arrangements, and catering provisions accordingly.

The process of monitoring RSVPs involves sending out invitations well in advance, including clear instructions for responding, and following up with individuals who have not responded within a specified timeframe. This proactive approach helps hosts gather the necessary information and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a memorable and comfortable experience for all.

To assist with RSVP management, couples can leverage digital tools such as dedicated wedding websites or mobile applications. These platforms streamline the process, allowing guests to respond conveniently and providing hosts with a centralized database of confirmed attendees.

Additionally, it is advisable to allocate some buffer space for unannounced guests, as unexpected attendees are not uncommon in Saudi weddings. This flexibility ensures that everyone can be accommodated with grace and ensures a harmonious celebration.

Benefits of Monitoring RSVPsChallenges of Monitoring RSVPs
  • Accurate guest count for catering and seating arrangements
  • Efficient allocation of resources
  • Smooth logistics and event flow
  • Delays in receiving responses
  • Communication challenges with a large guest list
  • Managing dietary restrictions and special requests

By actively monitoring RSVPs, couples can ensure that all guests feel valued and appreciated, and the wedding celebration becomes a memorable and inclusive experience for everyone involved.

Seating Arrangements for a Saudi Wedding

Seating arrangements play a crucial role in a Saudi wedding, ensuring that guests are comfortably accommodated and have an enjoyable experience. The placement of seats reflects the importance of certain individuals and creates a sense of hierarchy within the event.

Importance of Prime Seats

The seating arrangement for a Saudi wedding is carefully planned to give prime seats to the most important individuals. These seats are typically located close to the wedding party, providing a clear view of the stage or dance floor. Prime seats are reserved for:

  1. The parents of the bride and groom
  2. The immediate family members
  3. Close relatives and honored guests

By placing these individuals in prime seats, the host demonstrates respect and appreciation for their presence and contribution to the occasion.

Flexibility for Unannounced Guests

In Saudi weddings, it is common for unannounced guests to show up without prior notice. To accommodate these unexpected attendees, seating arrangements need to be flexible. This flexibility allows for additional seats to be arranged on-the-spot, ensuring that everyone is seated comfortably.

It is important to prioritize guest comfort and ensure that no one feels left out or uncomfortable during the event. By having pre-arranged flexible seating options, hosts can efficiently accommodate unannounced guests, maintaining a harmonious and enjoyable atmosphere for all.

Table 1Table 2Table 3
Parents of the BrideImmediate FamilyClose Relatives
Parents of the GroomImmediate FamilyClose Relatives
Honored GuestsSpecial FriendsAdditional Seats

As illustrated in the example above, the seating arrangement is organized into tables, each table assigned to specific groups of individuals. This structured approach ensures a smooth flow of the event, creates a sense of order, and allows for efficient service during the wedding.

By considering the importance of prime seats and incorporating flexibility for unannounced guests, hosts can create an inclusive and enjoyable environment for all attendees at a Saudi wedding.


Planning a non-traditional Saudi wedding requires careful consideration of the customs and traditions that are deeply rooted in Saudi Arabian culture. It is important to understand and respect these customs to create a memorable and meaningful wedding experience.

One key aspect of planning a non-traditional Saudi wedding is the inclusion and satisfaction of the elderly Aunties, who hold significant influence and play a pivotal role in family dynamics. Their blessings and approval are vital for a successful wedding celebration.

Furthermore, family harmony should be a top priority when making decisions throughout the planning process. By involving representatives from each branch of the family in the wedding party, you promote unity and ensure that all family members feel valued and included.

Other important considerations include arranging an appropriate venue that can accommodate traditional dances such as the dabke, as well as carefully selecting and inviting all guests, regardless of whether they are likely to attend. By following these guidelines and incorporating cultural traditions, you can plan a non-traditional Saudi wedding that celebrates love, family, and the rich heritage of Saudi Arabia.


What is the process for having a wedding outside of wedlock in Saudi Arabia?

Having a wedding without marriage in Saudi Arabia is not recognized by the law. To be legally protected, a civil registration must be done, and Islamic ceremonies such as nikah and walima are required.

What is the importance of weddings in Saudi society?

Weddings in Saudi Arabia are significant social events, serving as a platform for families to showcase their wealth. They vary in traditions and customs but generally follow the format of Bedouin and rural weddings.

How do arranged marriages work in Saudi Arabia?

Arranged marriages are still the norm in Saudi Arabia. Potential marriages are discussed between families, and the groom seeks the approval of the bride's family. Factors like cleanliness, appearance, behavior, education, and qualities as a housewife are considered when choosing a bride.

What are the conditions for a Saudi Arabian marriage?

For a marriage to be legally recognized in Saudi Arabia, couples must go through a civil registration process. Islamic ceremonies such as nikah and walima are required, and marriages performed in faiths other than Islam are not recognized.

What is the marriage process for foreigners in Saudi Arabia?

Foreigners in Saudi Arabia can get married in the embassy of their country. They must submit valid identification and translated documents during the registration process. Non-Muslim foreigners cannot legally get married in the country.

What are some traditional Saudi Arabian marriage traditions?

Traditional Saudi Arabian marriage traditions include the tulba, where the groom officially asks for the bride's hand in marriage, engagement ceremonies, henna parties for the bride, and wedding receptions with announcements, singing, dancing, and gift-giving.

What are the laws, rights, and duties in Saudi Arabian marriages?

Polygamy is legal in Saudi Arabia, with Muslim men allowed to marry up to four wives. The minimum age for marriage is 18, and marriages held by minors are nullified. Married couples are expected to dress modestly and follow Sharia Islamic Law.

How do you select the venue for a Saudi wedding?

The venue for a Saudi wedding can vary, from tents in parks to grand ballrooms. The key factor is having a large and sturdy dance floor for traditional dabke performances, which are an integral part of the celebration.

How is the wedding party chosen in a Saudi wedding?

The wedding party in a Saudi wedding is typically a representation of all branches of the family. It is not based on personal preferences or friendships. Each family is usually represented by one member in the wedding party, with the goal of promoting family peace and harmony.

What is the etiquette for invitations and RSVPs for a Saudi wedding?

In Saudi weddings, it is customary to invite everyone, even if some are unlikely to attend. The names of the bride's parents must be listed on the invitations, regardless of who is paying for the wedding. Monitoring RSVPs is crucial to accommodate unexpected attendees.

How are seating arrangements done for a Saudi wedding?

Seating arrangements for a Saudi wedding are important. Prime seats are located close to the wedding party, and unannounced guests should be accommodated with flexible seating arrangements to ensure everyone is comfortably seated.

What are the steps for planning a non-traditional Saudi wedding?

Planning a non-traditional Saudi wedding involves understanding the customs and traditions of Saudi Arabia, considering the preferences of elderly family members, and prioritizing family harmony. The process includes arranging the venue, selecting the wedding party, sending out invitations, and considering cultural traditions.