Both USA and Saudi Arabia are ‘melting points’ when it comes to the uniqueness in culture and precisely on marriage and weddings. There are sets of norms and customs considered traditionally acceptable, to both cultures, and those which have to be adhered if a marriage is to be considered in the Common Law Marriage Act.
In USA, it is customary that marriages be bound on love and not on arrangements. The culture allows a wide range of diversity in for wedding couples and does not limit weddings on cultural grounds. American traditional marriages take place in a church chapel, beach, garden, or in a civil suit, with guests from both families invited as witnesses. The traditional laws in the country are not as restrictive as considered in Saudi Arabia. Many couples do not follow the customs as they consider them weak. Traditionally, parents gave initial blessings in a marriage, and without their consent, the marriage was bound to fail. Currently, partners arrange their marriages even before having consent from their parents (Bedu par. 2).
In Saudi Arabia, things are a bit different; considering most citizens are Muslim, culture is strictly adhered to and considered as an obligation. Marriage in Saudi acts as a beginning of a new life between man and woman. The couples dress in traditional outfit and complement it with jewelries. This is in contrast with weddings in USA where grooms wear modern fashions while bridegrooms choose on their gowns and veils. Most of the weddings in Saudi are arranged depending on a family’s social status and power. Weddings in Saudi are tribal; no wonder there are marriages between family members. Arab women are prohibited into marrying men from different cultural backgrounds unless with the king’s consent (Bedu par. 4).
In this culture, polygamy is a norm and adds value to the culture. A man can have as many as four wives depending on his status and power and is expected to treat them equally. However, with the integration in the modern society and hard economic times and STI’s, this has changed and monogamy is being advocated.
There exists a significant difference in treatment of couples in the Saudi and USA culture. Marriage in Saudi is a pure religious affair contrary to the affair in US. In USA, couples choose each other from love and engage with each other before they make their marriage official. This is a taboo in Saudi’s culture; couples in Saudi never get to know each other (Bedu par. 4). In fact, some of them get married to people that they have never been to close contact or are not familiar. They do not make their own decisions on who to invite or what to cook during the ceremony.
Pre-marital affairs are a taboo and anyone found to engage in such behavior becomes an outcast. Dowry is a common concept in both wedding cultures. In USA, dowry payments are in the form of cash in relation to what the bride’s parent’s demand. This is not the case in Saudi; here the dowry payment is in the form of jewelry, gold, silver, clothing and other valuables. Unlike in the USA where the dowry payments occur before the marriage, dowry in Saudi Arabia is paid moments before the exchange of rings.
A marriage should be valued from the family background to the vows that the couple makes during the wedding day. As much as I do not support parents searching for marriage partners, parents consent should be taken seriously. In the modern US society, most couples end up getting married without family and parents involvements. They make up their own decisions without advice from their folks, and this explains why most of these marriages have a weak base and end up being broken.
In addition, the traditions limiting inter tribal marriages in US have been limited to intercultural mix. This has led to the generation of a society with no background and that which lacks customary references. As a result, conflicts of interests are experienced. This is in contrary to the customs in Saudi where females are not allowed to intermarry with other tribes or cultures. This enhances better understanding of cultural similarities and backgrounds and acts as a point of reference in cases of marital conflicts.
Bedu, American. Saudi Arabia: Marriage is not as simple as it sounds. July 11, 2011.