Right after Final exams, we have the wedding season. All the halls are booked even on weekdays and all the furnishing stores have sales and special offers for newlyweds. Don’t even try a walk-in to a salon on Wednesday and Thursday or you’ll probably have to sit a couple of hours waiting, only to be told that they cannot squeeze you in after all.
Even though I personally hate going to wedding, I have attended my fair share of these extravaganzas. Just like everything else, weddings are gender segregated. Strangely enough that does not stop them from being a great place to get hooked up. Young women dress up in their fanciest dresses, usually specifically tailored for the wearer to wear at that particular wedding. They prance around the hall, coming and going and dance on the stage. In between dances they sit on the sides of the stage. All this is to get exposure in front of all the mothers who are looking for brides for their sons. It is not strange for a mother or someone on her behalf to go right up to a girl and ask her about her family name and phone number.
In order for you to get a better picture, a wedding hall is usually just that; a huge room with round tables for eight scattered all around. Name placards are non-existent. Women sit at whichever table they want on a first come, first serve basis. There are a few plush couches in the front reserved for VIPs and elderly ladies.
All over Riyadh, there are women tailors. You can buy material, which is available in every imaginable color and print at material shops at major malls like Al Andalus on Olaya Street. You then take this material to one of the women tailors with a photo of a design or your own creative drawing and they will make it for you. Depending on the design and if there is any embroidery involved, this could set you back anything from 500 SAR to 5000 SAR excluding what you paid for the material. And depending how popular a salon is, you have to book an appointment from a month before the wedding to at least a week.
I’m fine with all of that and honestly sometimes it can be quite fun. What really annoys me about weddings is the music. It is usually live. Conventionally it was a group of African Arab women with a lead singer and their only instrument is drums. Now things have gotten a little more sophisticated with bands, dancers and different kinds of instruments. They all use microphones and speakers at what seems to me top volume. You can’t have a conversation; only steal a few words in between songs. You can’t even hear yourself think.