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Pakistani Wedding Celebrations – Explained with Videos

Weddings play a vital role in Pakistani culture, which is why they are celebrated with heart and soul. 

A Pakistani Wedding is not only an event where two people get married, but it’s an opportunity where the whole family from near and far gets together.

Everyone enjoys this special time of organized chaos. And believe me, Pakistani families are nothing but small. Take the word huge and multiply it by 10, that’s how huge they are.

A Pakistani wedding or “Shaadi; شادی” traditionally consists of a series of 4 celebratory events; 2 pre-wedding celebrations called Mayun and Mehndi, and 2 main events called Nikah and Walima

Everyone attends each event in dazzling outfits full of embellishments, embroidery, and colors that are candies to the eye.

Yet, the main focus remains on the couple, especially the bride, who is meant to be the stunningly looking showstopper.

As a Pakistani local, let me walk you through the traditions and festivities of Pakistani weddings and get a sneak peek into a Pakistani “Shaadi” full of fun, glamor, music, and of course, great food.

Pakistan is a country that I love. Click to check my other articles on Pakistan. I also linked them all at the end of this article.

Pakistani Nikah Ceremony with ceremonies before.

How are Pakistani Weddings celebrated?

As a Pakistani local, I can tell you that Pakistani weddings are vibrant, colorful, extravagant, and loud. They are devotedly celebrated over the course of events and last, on average, from 3 to 7 days.

Pakistani weddings usually begin with some pre-wedding events called Dholki, Mayun, and Mehndi. Traditionally, these events focus more on the bride, but nowadays, the groom gets involved as well. 

All of these events are commonly celebrated at the bride’s and groom’s house with their respective families, relatives, and friends. These occasions are all around fun, singing, dancing, and pampering the bride and groom.

Next up is Baraat, which refers to the groom’s side who has joyfully come to the wedding venue to take the bride with them.

Baraat also includes the Nikah ceremony (Islamic marriage contract), which is the most important part of the entire wedding. 

After getting legally married, the couple receives loads of gifts from friends and family followed by some sweet traditions, lots of prayers, and delicious food.

It’s quite common for Nikah and Barat to be held on the same day, but some people choose to have them on separate days or Nikah only. 

The wedding continues with its final event, the Walima. It is a reception held by the groom’s side, celebrating the unification of the newlyweds with a grand dinner. 

The couple receives, yet again, many gifts and flower bouquets as well as heartwarming prayers and wishes from their loved ones.

The majority including my family as well have 3 to 4 events which are Mayun, Mehndi, Barat/Nikkah, and Walima.

However, some people choose to have even more events like a Bridal Shower or Dholki. Others decide to celebrate in the Islamic way with Nikah & Walima only.

It’s all up to the bride’s and groom’s family.

How it begins: The Proposal

In Pakistan, once a girl and a boy reach the age of 20, and beyond, they are considered as a potential bride and groom. While this is the average age, a lot of Pakistani people marry even younger.

Traditionally, the elders of the family look for and suggest a compatible partner. This is known as “Rishta“ which means relation or relationship in Urdu. 

However, if the boy or girl is already interested in someone, their suggestion is, in most cases, happily welcomed. 

Once a decision on the marriage proposal is conveyed by one or more family members of the potential groom by visiting the potential bride’s family and respectfully asking for the girl’s hand. 

Then the girl is asked by her parents if she wants to accept the proposal or not.

If she says yes, an agreement between both families is made and celebrated with traditional sweets and gifts for the girl at her home. 

The families of both sides then further proceed to plan the formal engagement during the upcoming visits.

Nowadays, more and more young men and women choose their partners for themselves and even propose directly to them. But even then, the family of the boy observes this tradition.

Pakistani Engagement Ceremony

The Engagement

Mangni is the time to exchange rings. Traditionally the future bride and groom are not seated together due to Islamic rulings.

The engagement ring is then placed on the girl’s finger by the groom’s mother, sister, or any other female, and vice versa. 

Once the proposal is accepted, the families of both parties start to plan the engagement, also called “Mangni”.

Some people have the engagement ceremony right at their home while others rent a hall and celebrate it with close family members of the soon-to-be-wed couple.

Couples receive gifts and money from their future in-laws followed by a dinner and prayers (Dua) for the couple.

Nonetheless, separated engagement ceremonies are becoming increasingly unpopular among the younger generation and rings are exchanged directly between the couple.

If you are planning to attend a Pakistani Wedding. You should also check my guide on “Attending a Pakistani Wedding? What to Wear and Must-Knows

Pre-Wedding Celebrations

Before a Pakistani wedding starts, there are some celebratory events prior to the initial wedding.

These events are mainly about the bride, dancing, and singing, but nowadays, the groom’s side celebrates these too.

Pakistani Dholki Night


First up is the Dholki. It is a pre-wedding celebration usually held 1 or 2 weeks before the actual wedding.

At a Dholki, the bride typically wears a yellow dress and is accompanied by close family and friends.

Everyone sits in circles on colorful cushions laid out on the floor and sings together while beating on a small Dhol drum.

Pakistani Mayun


Mayun is another traditional event commonly celebrated 8 to 10 days before the wedding. After the Mayun event,  the soon-to-be bride is secluded from any work around the house. 

She is beautified with oil, “Ubtan” (yellow skin-beautifying paste), and other beauty treatments until the wedding day. 

The bride again wears a traditional dress in hues of yellow, orange, and green with handmade jewelry made from fresh flowers. 

After Mayun, the bride and groom are not allowed to see each other until the wedding.

Pakistani Mehndi Night

Mehndi (Henna Night)

Mehndi or the Henna Night is the most awaited and spiced-up event of the whole wedding. 

The bride gets intricate henna designs applied on her hands and feet and traditionally wears a beautiful dress in bright, colorful hues.

The groom usually wears a white Shalwar Kameez with a shawl of the same colors. The bride or groom are then brought to the stage. All girls bring decorated plates with henna and candles, and the ceremony starts.

A leaf is placed in their hand. Then, family members and friends come one by one and put a bit of henna on their hands. Additionally, a little bit of oil is put in their hair, and traditional sweets are fed to them.

Cousins perform dances they prepared, and everyone enjoys the music and delicious food. The celebration continues until late at night.

This event can either be held separately by the bride & groom or all together with both of their families.

Pakistani Baraat Events

To learn more about general dress codes in Pakistan, please read: What to Wear When Visiting Pakistan? A Local Answers

The Main events of a Pakistani Wedding

Despite many other wedding functions, there are two main events a Pakistani wedding can’t be without, the Nikah and Walima.

Pakistani Nikkah


The day of Nikah is the most important part of a Pakistani wedding and is entirely arranged by the bride’s side.

Nikah is a Muslim marriage contract signed by the bride & groom to get legally married under Islamic law. 

Traditionally, the bride wears a red-colored, heavy embellished dress while the groom wears a Sherwani and Turban.

The Nikah ceremony is held at home, at the mosque, or at the wedding venue and performed by the Imam.

Once the Nikah is done, the Baraat takes place.

The couple is seated together on a beautifully decorated stage where their loved ones come to congratulate them.

Family and friends present many gifts and money as a gesture to help them get started in their new life. 

Small traditions like Joota Chupai (Shoe hiding) also take place to add some fun to this big day. In this tradition, the sisters and cousins of the bride try to take the shoe of the groom and hide it.

The groom then has to negotiate a price with the girls in order to get it back.

In a Pakistani wedding, two moments are the most emotional for the bride; one, signing the Nikah papers, and two, her Rukhsati.

Click to read: 10 Must-Have Features of Mosques

After the Nikah, Rukhsati ceremony

Rukhsati basically means “sending off, to depart, or leave” and is a bittersweet moment for every Pakistani bride.

In Rukhsati, all guests gather together to say goodbye to the newly married couple. This is always a very emotional moment for the bride and her family. 

Despite all the happiness and excitement, the bride is moved to tears, knowing she is about to leave her parent’s home, her siblings, and many childhood memories. It is a new chapter of her life.

On the other hand, the groom and his family are excited to welcome the new member to their family. The couple then leaves in a lavish car decorated with flowers from top to bottom.

Wondering Where to buy Pakistani clothes? Check out my Pakistani Fashion Brands Guide.

Pakistani Wedding Night


A Pakistani wedding wraps up with a Walima. It is a reception arranged by the groom’s side to celebrate the coming-together of the two individuals.

It all happens at a beautiful wedding venue, usually a hall or a wedding tent.

Walima events are quite pleasant and serene. The decor and colors are kept light and fresh, and the music is kept lower.

The groom opts for an elegant suit perfectly complimenting his bride’s mesmerizing dress which yet again, is usually in a pastel color.

The bride also wears gold jewelry she was gifted by her husband’s family.

The couple receives gifts and lovely flower bouquets from their friends and families, followed by a delicious dinner of mouthwatering Pakistani specialties.

Suggested Reading: Pakistan’s Top 21 Fashion Designers You Need To Know

Regional variations

Pakistan is a land of extraordinary customs and traditions spread all across its areas. Each province has its own ways and practices that are also reflected in its weddings.

For example, Balochi weddings are known to be lavish but short and are usually celebrated in only 1 or 2 days.

If you look at Pashtun weddings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), “Attan” (a Pashtun dance) is cheerfully performed at the end of the wedding. 

In the southern province of Sindh, there is a ceremony called “Dastar Bandi” in which the elders place a turban on the groom’s head to mark the start of his “manhood”. This is also performed in areas of KPK, Punjab, and Balochistan.

Also, in Punjab there is a very popular tradition known as “Darwaza Rukai” where the females of the groom’s family block his doorway to get to his wife until he pays them money.

These are only a few of the many variations in wedding celebrations across Pakistan. They are as diverse as Pakistan itself, yet each of them is adorable in its own way.

Learn more about the ethnicity of Pakistan. Click to read Is Pakistan an Arab Country? and click to read A Local’s Guide to Languages Spoken in Pakistan

Why do Pakistani Brides wear red?

Red is known to be the color of love, passion & warmth. According to research, a woman is most attractive when wearing red as the color elevates one’s beauty and charm and attracts the eye.

Here in Pakistan, there isn’t really a solid reason for it. It is mainly believed that a girl is most beautiful in red as red is associated with marriage. 

The red bridal dress does have significance in Hindu culture. Therefore, since Pakistan and India share the same cultural background, Pakistani brides wear red as well. 

Despite this tradition, the bride can wear any color she wants.

Why do Pakistani Brides cry upon leaving for the groom’s house?

When I was a little kid I always used to wonder why every Pakistani bride is sad at her wedding when she is about to leave with her husband.

I always used to say: “It’s her wedding day; she should be so happy”.

But then my father told me that they are indeed very happy, but they are also very sad because they will leave their home, their beloved parents, siblings, and childhood memories and start a new chapter of their life. 

This is why the Bride and her family get pretty emotional when she leaves the wedding venue with her husband. This moment is called “Rukhsati” meaning departure or farewell.

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This article is

written by Asma Schleicher and edited by Efe Genit. Asma is a creative writer with German and Pakistani roots. She is an analytical writer with a degree in business administration.

She mostly writes about cultural, travel, and fashion-related topics reflecting her real-life experiences. You can also check Asma’s profile on Upwork.