Marriage has special importance to Egyptians. They consider marriage as the most important event in their lives because it means a moral way of psychological and biological satisfaction. Egyptians assume marriage is the main method to protect youth from any sacred relationships; moreover, marriage reinforces society's relationships. Marriage is a religious imposition,and we can find many parts in the Quran as, well as prophetic instructions, which encourage getting married. There is no doubt that marriage customs indicate the society's culture, behaviral patterns, thoughts and feelings. Now let's indicate some Egyptian marriage customs in the past and present and their main effects.
The ancient Egyptians were the first people who stated marriage laws in the world. They regarded marriage as a civil and legal relationship. Marriage in ancient Egypt was a religious imposition. The ancient Egyptian laws organized the marriage relationship and indicated all rights and duties for the couples. Many of the old marriage contracts have been found, and they were registered and signed by three officers. The ancient Egyptian laws gave the right of divorce to women as well as men. The wife was respected greatly, and she had high prestige. The couple had a lot of chances to get to know each other before the engagement; for example, in the temples or at the common feasts.
There was a custom in the Egyptian family which allowed the adult daughter to welcome the guests who came to visit her parents. The ancient Egyptians knew the engagement before getting married, and its customs were similar to the engagement customs in Egypt's countryside nowadays. It started by the suitor's parents visiting to his fiancee's house to get her family approval to complete this marriage and reaching an agreement, which contains two main items: an amount of money, called Mahr, paid by suitor to his fiancee's family to help them prepar the furniture of their daughter and a valuable jewelry gift, called Shabka, given by the suitor to his fiancee. The value of this gift depended on the financial and social levels of the suitor"s family. When the two parties completed the agreement, they fixed an appointment for the engagement party. Most of relatives and friends attended the party in one of the common banquet halls, which was decorated with several kinds of flowers and lights. The fiancee wore the engagement dress which was simpler than the wedding dress and its color was blue or pink while the groom put on the finger of his fiancee a ring, the ancient Egyptians gift to the old and new world,which was a symbol of immortality. In addition, the groom gave his fiancee the valuable jewelry gift had agreed on before. During the party, the attendands ate and drank several kinds of food and drinks. When the house of the new family became ready, the two families fixed an oppointment of the wedding party. The night before wedding day, the relatives, the friends and the neighbors got together to celebrate "the Henna Night". The women went to the bride's house, while the men went to the groom's house. At the bride's house the women danced and sang all night while the bride wore a pink dress made with silk or cotton fibers, and her hands and feet were bleached with henna. Meanwhile, the men danced and sang all night at the groom's house, and the groom wear an expensive clean suit.
The next day, the marriage contract was signed and registered by priest in the temple in the attendance of the couple and most of their families and friends.After sun set, the wedding party started, and the couple wore their best dresses and jewelry. The bride was transferred to her new house on a horse or a camel with a musical band, and the attendants sprayed the cortege with green wheat as a symbol of fertility. Several kinds of cooked meats as well as vegetables and fruit were prepared for the attendants, who danced and sang with music all night. In the morning, the wife's mother and her sisters visited her and gave her some food. The wife's friends and relatives visited her after seven days from the date of her wedding party, and they offered gifts and some food, while she gave them some sweets and fruits. Ancient Egyptian marriage customs are the most effective marriage customs in Egypt's history although Egypt has been exposed to many civilization, such as, Greek, Roman and Islam.