Somali Wedding Dresses

Muslim couple sharing a romantic moment.

Somali wedding dress for men and women may be traditional or a mix of contemporary and time-honored styles.

Somali Marriage

Arranged marriages are traditional for Somalilanders, although this practice is slowly falling away, particularly for those living in other countries. Somali marriages traditionally unite not only a couple, but families and clans or tribes as well. An engagement or marriage contract may be recorded; a dowry of money or goods may be given.

The Aroos, or Somali wedding, has a celebration that traditionally encompasses three days of activities such as meals, gift-giving, music, and dancing -- although men and women may celebrate separately. Most Somali weddings have Muslim ceremonies performed by an imam or priest. Although traditions vary, the ceremony may include blessings and readings from the Quran, a verbal accepting by the bride and groom of the marriage contract, and exchange of rings.

About Somali Dress

Somali is group of peoples whose dress today includes both traditional Islamic wear and western apparel. Although some Somali dress is western in style, women dress very modestly, in accordance with Islamic cultural mandates.

Common apparel for men includes:

  • Ma'awis, or plaid kilts
Embroidered Men's Cap
  • Khameez - Long, dress-like male garment.
  • Shawls
  • Turban
  • Koofiyad, or embroidered cap
  • Trousers or western pants
  • Western shirts
  • Suits and ties

Common garments for women include:

  • Direh or Dirac - A flowing, lightweight dress usually worn over a slip or petticoats.
  • Coantino - A large piece of cloth draped over the head and shoulder and tied at the waist.
  • Hijab - Head scarf that covers hair
  • Masar - Simple headwrap
  • Burqa or Jalabeeb - A long garment that cloaks the entire body.
  • Guntiino - A full-length, brightly colored dress resembling a Sari.
  • Blouses
  • Skirts
  • Trousers/slacks

Somali Wedding Attire

Somali wedding attire varies due to the couple's location, personal preferences, and familial traditions. Heather Akou, an expert in the subject of Somali dress, reveals that rather than adhering to a specific type of dress, contemporary Somali apparel is a conglomeration of different influences rooted in Somali culture. The type of wedding attire worn, then, depends largely on the current location and beliefs of the couple. Traditionally Somali dress for women includes a beautiful dirac or Guntiino, a garbasaar head covering, and a googaro slip for under the dress. Makeup and gold jewelry may be worn, and traditionally hair and fingernails may be stained with henna. Men may dress in traditional garments or western suits or dress clothes.

Buying Somali and Muslim Wedding Dress

If you're a bride or groom searching for Somali wedding dress, searching for Muslim or Islamic wedding dress may yield more search results for shopping purposes. Many modern styles of Islamic dress combine historic styles and lines with contemporary fabrics and fresh designs.

  • AlHannah.com: This shop specializes in special occasion and formalwear, including beautiful hijabs and lovely embroidered silk garments.
  • Islamic Boutique: Sells pre-made and custom-made clothing and formalwear.
  • Sajeda.com: Modest and Muslin clothing selections, including formalwear and swim clothing made of water resistant fabric.

Whether in the form of traditional Somali wedding dress attire or more contemporary styles, the specific wedding attire a couple ultimately chooses for their special day they can reflect their beliefs, heritage, and personalities.

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Somali Wedding Dresses