Muslim Wedding Ceremony Planning Checklist
by Robin Beth Schaer
12+ Months Before
- Begin to envision your ceremony. Should it be long and symbolic? Short and sweet? Do you want to include all the rituals or just the highlights?
- Pick wedding date and time preferences. Muslims favor weddings during the month of Shawwal and avoid weddings during the sacred months of Muharram and Ramadan. Sunday is favored for weddings because it's the start of the week. The Islamic year follows a lunar calendar, so corresponding Gregorian dates vary from year to year -- consult your local mosque to determine when dates will fall.
- Choose a location and officiant. The wedding needn't take place in a mosque, and any Muslim who understands Islamic tradition can officiate. However, many mosques have marriage officers, called qazi or madhun, who can oversee any marriages held there and confirm appropriate civil documents.
- If either you or your mate isn't Muslim, consult your mosque about intermarriage and possible conversion. Because Islam is a patrilineal religion (passed down through the father), a Muslim man may marry a non-Muslim woman of another monotheistic faith (such as Christianity or Judaism) without a conversion. However, a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam.
- If this is the second wedding for either of you, contact your mosque about remarriage requirements. While divorce and remarriage are allowed in Islam, you'll need legal documents proving the divorce is final, and there may be a three-month waiting period.
9-11 Months Before
- Begin looking for vendors (caterer, photographer, henna artist, and musicians, for example) and make appointments to review their work. Decide if you want the wedding feast to be halal (following Islamic dietary requirements).
- Meet with your officiant to discuss ceremony structure and marriage requirements. Talk about the different elements of Muslim weddings and decide what you want to include. Will you observe gender separation rules requiring men and women to remain separate during the ceremony and reception?
- If the wedding will be held in a mosque, find out about dress requirements, such as removal of shoes and veiling for women.
- Make arrangements if you plan to have any prewedding ceremonies held in a mosque, such as fatha, an engagement ritual that honors the to-be-weds' fathers.
6-8 Months Before
- Discuss required marriage documents with your officiant. You'll need a Muslim wedding contract that includes a meher, a formal statement specifying the monetary amount the groom will give the bride. In addition, you may need a marriage license from your state or country.
- Consult your stationer about invitations, programs, and place cards. Programs will help your non-Muslim guests understand the rich history and symbolism of a Muslim wedding.
3-4 Months Before
- Decide who will be part of the ceremony. You need two male witnesses to sign the marriage contract. If the wedding will be held in a mosque, you may need a wali (a male representative) to act on the bride's behalf during the ceremony.
- Start planning prewedding celebrations -- many rituals serve to prepare and purify the to-be-weds and their families.
3-4 Weeks Before
- Have a final meeting with your officiant.
- Finalize vows (if you have any), readings, and special ceremony details.
- Make sure each participant in the ceremony understands what's involved.
1-2 Weeks Before
- Touch base with your officiant.
- Enjoy prewedding celebrations such as henna parties, turmeric ceremonies, and ritual baths.
- Entrust all the ritual elements to someone very reliable: the marriage contract and pen for signing; the rings; the flower garlands; and an egg for stomping.