Sam and Kam’s Palestinian Wedding

Kamal and Samantha

When Sam first told me about her soon-to-be husband, I could tell she was genuinely enjoying the conversation, you could hear it in her voice. She lit up as she spoke about his calming demeanor and warm personality. She mentioned his good looks as one of the first things she noticed about him. But then talked about how secure and comfortable she felt with him. Sam’s enthusiasm for this man truly lit up the room, exactly the type of love story we love to tell.

The more we got to know Sam and Kam the more we fell in love with them. They are genuinely the kind of people that you want to invite over for game night. Fun, warm, and kind, all rolled up into a couple. Family mattered a great deal to them. Not only their extended families, but their son as well, who played an important role on the wedding day. The two of them were planning a small intimate 400-something-person wedding (that’s a bit of sarcasm for you, that’s a lot of people and the couple knew it was too), and asked our team to photograph it for them.

One thing I quickly learned about Sam is that she is the type of person that is always thinking about others. She has an others-minded demeanor about her, but on top of that, she’s a great listener. It was so fun to watch her talking with people and see her leaning in to listen to what people around her were saying. Perhaps a bit of a lost art these days? I think so.

The two of them and their families were planning a multi-day wedding. The first day would be the Palestinian wedding day, followed by the western wedding the following day.

What is a Palestinian wedding like?

Palestinian weddings are traditionally lavish and extravagant affairs, with the bride and groom dressed in the most beautiful clothes. Just look at her dress. The wedding meal is a veritable feast, with food being a huge priority. Palestinian weddings are very similar to western weddings in that they’re extremely happy occasions for families and friends to come together and celebrate the beginning of a new life. The main difference? A whole lot of fantastic dancing. 😉

One of the first things that Sam and Kam got to experience was family members gathering on either side of the newlyweds, dancing, singing, and to tap their hands as they circle around them in a gesture of long-lasting marriage. Later, dancing and feasting continue until everyone ceremonially leaves for the venue. It is a touching tradition that captures both tradition and modernity among Palestinians.

How do Palestinian weddings differ from other Arab weddings?

Palestinian weddings are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm, yet they differ from other Arab weddings in a few subtle ways. For one, the customs of the wedding celebration are steeped in centuries-old religious customs. There is often a focus on prayer and chants at Palestinian weddings to suitably celebrate the unions of couples. Overall, while Palestinian weddings may share some similarities with those of other Arab countries, there are distinct customs that make these special occasions unique.

What are some of the traditions involved in a Palestinian wedding?

Weddings are amongst the most widely celebrated traditions in Palestinian culture and often involve grand, joyful ceremonies that encompass a variety of custom elements. If you walk into a Palestinian wedding what will you see? Dancing, dancing, and more amazing dancing! When I tell you it’s fantastic, believe me, it’s fantastic! We’re fortunate to photograph a large number of multicultural weddings and seeing the different cultural traditions is definitely a favorite but the dancing wins over everything else for me! Other aspects, like joyous ceremonial walks around the community and unique chants known as Zaffe that feature singing and dancing, add color to the wedding festivities. Additionally, tradition calls for serving dishes such as vine leaves stuffed with rice and many desserts during these big moments. All these and more make for an unforgettable celebration that is full to the brim with excitement, love, and laughter!

What role do the groom and his family play in a Palestinian wedding?

In Palestinian weddings, the groom and his family are integral to the ceremony and festivities. The groom is present throughout most of the wedding, often seated to the right of the bride. His role is to symbolize protection for his spouse. Our couple chose to do a first look at the Cleveland Public Library, keeping the traditions of heritage but also allowing a modern tradition to allow them a few moments of private time alone together on a day that would otherwise be extremely packed. Different parts of Palestine may have different customs relating to wedding festivities; regardless, both families share an equal commitment in hosting a beautiful wedding day approved by culture and elders alike.

They made it their own

Sam and Kam did an amazing job keeping their wedding about themselves and their family while still honoring traditions. For instance, Sam had a beautiful first-look moment with her son that was absolutely priceless. As busy as the day was, they had little pockets of time for the two of them to sneak in here and there. I love that for every couple no matter what type of wedding you’re planning!

Sam and Kam, I’m grateful you allowed our team to be a part of such a beautiful day, but more than that I’m grateful we know the two of you!

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