Islam is the second largest religion in the world and present in many countries.  It follows therefore, that while some basic rules apply, Islamic marriages can differ because cultures in different countries vary widely.  A Turkish Muslim wedding is likely to be quite different to a Malaysian wedding and a Pakistani wedding will be different to a Bengali wedding.

In the UK, a couple is required to be legally married so a couple will go through a legal ceremony as well as the religious ceremony.

The main part of a Muslim wedding is the Nikah followed by the Walimah.

There are pre-wedding ceremonies that take place, some of which may take place on the day of the wedding.


A mangni is the equivalent of an engagement for the bride and groom.  The families meet each other and will shower one another with gifts of food and clothes.  It marks the intention of the two families coming together and formalises the intention of marriage between the bride and groom.

Like Sikh and Hindu pre-wedding ceremonies, Muslim pre-wedding preparations can also include Manjha and Mehndi.


The Manjha is the Muslim equivalent of the Haldi ceremony where the bride and groom at their respective households have a paste of turmeric, sandalwood and rose water applied to their face, hands, and feet.  After the ceremony, they will bathe and not leave the house until the day of the wedding.


Mehndi is applied to the bride’s hands and feet.  This will be done a day or two before the wedding day itself, as the henna needs to dry and stain sufficiently and this can take a few hours.

The day of the wedding

The auspicious colour for bridal outfits is green but depending on the culture and country, as well as fashion choices, brides wear different colours.  The bride is adorned in a beautiful outfit with jewellery to match.

The groom nowadays, certainly in the UK, veers towards wearing a sherwani with a churidar pajama.  This seems to be the general attire for grooms and Asian weddings nowadays.

The Baraat (groom’s family and guests) are greeted by the bride’s family when they arrive at the marriage venue.

The Nikah is the main ceremony and is officiated by an Imam or Maulvi.  Depending on culture and traditions, the groom is presented to the bride or the bride is presented to the groom.

The groom’s family will offer the bride Mahr, which is usually a pre-determined amount of cash or gifts, which is to provide the bride with financial security.  It is also the way in which consent is sought from the bride.  The Imam or Maulvi will then ask the bride and groom if they agree to the marriage.  They will say “Qubool Hai” (I agree) 3 times each.  A marriage contract is signed with 2 witnesses.  Then prayers are read from the Holy Qu’ran.

After the religious ceremony, a Walimah will follow which is the reception for the bride and groom.  This will consist of a feast being laid for the wedding party and guests.  The bride and groom will be seated separately on special seating and family and friends will bless them.

Once the festivities are over, the bride will leave her parents home and accompany her husband to her new abode.  This is known as Rukhsat and can be an emotional experience for all involved.

On arrival at her new home, her mother-in-law will welcome her and the Holy Qu’ran will be placed on her head as a welcome gesture.

This marks the end of the wedding day and the start of a new life together for the bride and groom.

From a photography perspective, there are many parts of the day to capture – special moments that signify meaning during the ceremony.  Because so many countries follow the Islamic faith and cultures differ in traditions and rituals, it is advisable to meet with the bride/groom or family to understand what they would like captured on the day.  They may have specific rituals that are important to them that they want documented.

Asian weddings tend to last more than 10 hours and each side may have their own photographer, so a photographer for the bride’s side may have a slightly shorter day than the groom’s side, depending on how the day is organised.  As a photographer, you can stipulate the number of hours you are going to work and charge for, so long as you communicate clearly before the event and charge appropriately.

Asian weddings rarely run to plan, so you need to decide if you are going to allow run-over and go with the flow, or if you have a set time that you will stop photographing the day.