You know someone whose relative is getting married, so you are welcome.
You get very dressed up. You put on a long dress, do your hair and makeup and for good measure you throw on some bling. If you have an abaya you wear it, otherwise you bring a pashmina.
You arrive at the wedding hall or hotel at 9 o'clock at night, when the ladies-only party typically starts.
You are greeted warmly at the door by 10 or so of the bride/groom's close female relatives. They are extremely dressed up, with more makeup than you've ever seen a woman wear in your life. You are surprised at the elaborate dresses they wear, which draw attention to their figures, to say the least: cleavage is really on display, and maybe a midsection on a gown or two will be see-through. Their gowns appear custom made because they fit like gloves.
Everyone says "welcome," shakes your hands, maybe kisses your cheeks. You really do feel like an honored guest. You're glad you got dressed up; you'd feel like part of the beige-colored walls in the lobby right now if you hadn't.
You walk into a lavishly-decorated ballroom: the bride's chosen colors are maroon and pale yellow or maybe mint green, and everything from the flowers to the table clothes and the chairs has these colors. There is a stage at one end of the large room, with a maroon velvet sofa-bench positioned in front of a maroon velvet backdrop, where you imagine the bride will sit when she arrives.
You find seats with your friends at a table. Arabic coffee and tea are offered, along with fruit juices and sodas.
Hummus, moutabal, fatoush, and some sweets are passed around the table. Deliciously-cooked lamb - as in most of the carcass including the head - on rice is served on a huge platter. There's also harees, a traditional lamb/wheat dish, and other foods at your table.
At 10 or 11 o'clock, the lights go out and a spotlight shines on the far end of the room. The bride appears. She is dressed in an elaborate, white wedding gown. She walks very slowly down the center aisle, pausing to pose for the cameras. She looks nervous, but her appearance is absolutely perfect. She walks up the steps of the stage and poses for more pictures. Finally she sits down on the sofa. The guests line up and greet her on the stage and lots of pictures follow.
A little later the close, young female relatives dance before the bride on and off the stage. Are they on display for mothers of potential grooms to check out?
The music is very different from western music. It is all in Arabic, and it has a fantastic rolling drum beat that makes you wish you could dance too.
Around midnight, an announcement is made in Arabic. Suddenly there is a wave of black moving over the room. Every lady in the room is covering her head with her shayla, some adding their burqa or niqab over their faces. If you don't have a shayla or even a pashmina you will want to duck under the table, so strong is this wave of covering in this room now.
Then the groom enters, wearing the formal gold-edged garment the royal family wears over their kanduras on special occasions. He is flanked by his father and brothers and uncles. Maybe there are twenty men and some boys altogether.
Now you notice the bride's face is covered with a white cloth.
The groom and his party go up to the stage and stand by the bride and many photos are taken.
The groom's party leaves the stage and they dance among themselves close to the foot of the stage. Some of them can really dance. (The groom remains with his bride on stage.) Then an older gentleman among them suddently whips his camel stick in the air several times and all at once the men turn and leave the room.
Now the bride's face is uncovered. She and the groom chat as they greet the ladies who wish them well. Cake and other sweets, as well as coffee, are served.
The newly-weds leave together. The wedding is over.