5 Muslim Couples Get Real About Marriage

Everything from being arranged to honoring family traditions.

Have you ever wondered what it's really like to be in an arranged marriage? Or what's like to balance conservative wedding traditions with modern style? Five young Muslim couples sat down with Brides and got real about their marriages—how they met, what their weddings were like, and all the things they wish people knew about Muslim relationships.

They all got together in different ways—on Facebook and through friends and family. Melanie Elturk and Ahmed Zedan were introduced via email—in one of their email correspondences, Zedan mentioned marriage to Elturk.

"In our community, we don't mess around," Elturk says. "So when I read what he had said, I was like, 'I need to get on the phone with this guy tonight. Pronto." By the end of that initial phone call (which lasted 10 hours!), they had decided to get married.

Much like in any culture where parents are asked for their child's hand in marriage, there's a bit of nervousness around that conversation. For Issam Hamididdin, talking to Alaa Balkhy's parents was even more nerve-wracking—in part because he had to fly to Saudi Arabia in a matter of days to make it happen.

"I can't ask the question; my father has to ask it on my behalf," Hamididdin says of how those conversations go in his culture. "It comes from the fact that...traditionally people were getting married a lot younger."

The pressures of the guest list are more heightened, too. Husam Odeh and Nadia Azmy had 700 people at their wedding—even though Azmy said she wanted a maximum of 300.

"For our cultures, if you got invited to somebody's wedding, you have to invite them to your wedding," Odeh says. "But our wedding was hype. I'm not a dancer and I was dancing the whole night."

Yusef Ramelize and Samira Abdul-Karim found that adhering to tradition connected them to her family history. "The imam of my mosque—the childhood mosque that I grew up in—he pretty much married everybody in my family," Abdul-Karim says. "He has a composition notebook ledger. We saw the names of all my family members and it was really cool."

See also: 6 People Get Real About What It's Actually Like to Be in an Arranged Marriage

Bilal Asghar and Fatima Younus want people to see that despite the negative connotations associated with arranged marriage and perceived Muslim gender roles, couples can and do embrace equal partnership.

"There's these bad misconceptions and the best example that we can do is just be us," Younus says. "We can sit here and talk for hours and hours but what we really do and how we really act is what speaks louder than anything."

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