Tie the knot the Tahrir way
The 25 January Revolution has affected many couples' relationships, with some wanting to give their wedding a Tahrir flavour, says Omneya Yousry
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Clockwise from far left: Mohamed and Yasmine and their invitation card; Rodayn and Sameh at their engagement party
"Anyone who hasn't seen the Nile in the trees, or who hasn't listened to songs on moonlit nights, has never been to Egypt." This part of a well-known song by singer Shadia was strange when played in the film The Night Baghdad Fell, but it has become more understandable as a result of Egypt's 25 January Revolution.
In line with the new era Egypt has been witnessing, many couples have decided to give their wedding the spirit of Tahrir Square, among them Osama and Mayar. Their wedding became a patriotic celebration, and they chose all the details to reflect the success of the revolution as a way of hoping for success in their own married lives.
Osama and Mayar started their wedding by holding an Egyptian flag as the wedding procession took place, and not only the bride and groom grasped the flag: the whole party did so at some point during the evening. The wedding picture featured an ironic picture of the ousted former president, along with music from Melody Film TV, saying "in the year we forced Mubarak to step down came the wedding of Osama and Mayar."
Inside the ballroom, the guests danced to the sound of the new patriotic songs, though the party had to end at 11pm to observe the curfew, many guests shouting out "he must leave‚ê¶ we won't leave" because they were enjoying themselves so much and didn't want to go.
Rodayn and her fianc√© Sameh, a photographer, got married on the "Friday of Anger" after the revolution, the couple originally planning to marry on 28 January, but having to postpone things because Sameh was arrested on the 27th. Eventually, they married on 25 February, and Sameh wore an Egyptian flag while Rodayn dressed in the flag's three colours of red, white and black.
These colours dominated the evening from the bride and groom's dais to the flowers, centrepieces, balloons and even the cake, which took the shape of the Egyptian flag with an eagle and the words "Egyptian and Proud" written on it.
Outside the ballroom, a stand displayed the words "we love you Egypt."
For their wedding, Haitham Dabour and Sara Sanad designed a four-page invitation, the first page of which proclaimed that "this wedding derives its legitimacy from Tahrir Square and the million march calls for stability." Both Dabour and Sanad had participated in the 18-day struggle before Mubarak finally stepped down, and both work for an opposition newspaper.
"We are both working in journalism, and we wanted to give our wedding touches that would commemorate the revolution," Sanad said. "It was very unique, and everyone liked it."
Dabour and Sanad are far from being alone in using Tahrir Square to give flavour to their wedding. Alia and Ehab believe that the events in Tahrir Square mirror events in their relationship, and they say that they shared a lot in this place that will now always be associated with the 25 January Revolution.
For this reason, they decided to have two sets of photographs made of their wedding, and in the second one they dedicated their wedding to the revolutionaries. The background music was "O my Country," composed after the revolution and dedicated to the martyrs.
Yasmine Mohsen, a famous designer, decided to use her skills in her wedding to fianc√© Mohamed Ghorab. For their wedding, the couple designed two posters with the assistance of photographer Mohamed Ezz. In the first, Mohsen plays the role of former vice president Omar Suleiman, while Ghorab plays the role of the person behind him.
"The idea came into our minds because of Mohamed's job," said Mohsen, referring to Mohamed's rank as a major in the security services. Mohsen also designed the wedding invitation, making it look like a statement from the military. In the other picture, Ghorab plays the country's president.
However, while some couples have been happy to use the revolution for their weddings, others have found that it has caused differences of opinion, as was the case for Rania Farouk and Youssef Orabi, teachers in an international school.
"Everything was alright and proceeding smoothly until the revolution, when everyone started to talk politics, and suddenly I discovered that our relationship could not survive," recalled Farouk. "I was pro Tahrir, but Youssef criticised what was going on there, and he could not adapt to the change."
The story was different again for Salma and Essam Boghdadi. "It was out of my hands," said Boghdadi, who had resigned from his job in order to travel to the United States. After the revolution, the US consulate in Cairo closed, and things became difficult regarding papers and the couple's plan to leave for America.
"My visa was refused despite the fact that I had papers proving that I had a job to go to in the States," Boghdadi said. "Eventually, I had to break up with Salma because I couldn't let her wait forever in the hope of a stable life in the future."
Other young couples have suffered because of the deteriorating economic situation since the revolution.
Basma Abdel-Raouf, the owner of an air-conditioning company, and her fianc√© were supposed to be married in October. However, the economic slowdown spoiled things, with Abdel-Raouf saying that "my father only accepted our marriage if we moved to a larger apartment, but selling the old one proved impossible after the revolution and we haven't been able to close the deal yet."
As a result, the families decided that this was not the time for the young couple to get married.
Other couples have adopted the revolution's spirit of rejecting all political and financial obstacles, with some couples getting married on weekday nights as well as on weekends, as is more traditional.
However, doing so has not been a good idea for many, with guests not showing up, or other disasters happening, often because of the curfew forcing people to stay at home.
"We got married on the Friday of Anger, and though I received calls from friends about the thugs in the streets, I never imagined things would be as bad as they were," said Walaa, an employee of a foreign university.
"After a while, we got news from our parents and close friends that people had been calling saying they could not get to the hotel that night. Finally, the manager decided to cancel, giving us our money back and a discount in case we decided to make arrangements later. In the end, we just went on our honeymoon instead and cancelled the wedding party."
Patsy Khaled and Islam El-Said decided to celebrate their engagement at home with family and friends. Khaled and her family prepared everything, including flowers, balloons, cake and a buffet for the guests, and then the family heard loud voices and screams in the street.
"Lots of guys were running about, shouting that there were thieves and thugs everywhere. When we turned on the television, we saw that a curfew had been declared from 4pm to 6am, which meant I had to celebrate my engagement without my fianc√©," Khaled said.
Yet, even though not every engaged or married couple has had a good experience of the revolution, all of them feel that it has increased their love for each other. While the economic crisis or the loss of employment have led to crises in some couples, these things have mostly strengthened relationships and the faith in a better life for their children and Egypt after the 25 January Revolution.