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Leena and Montasar’s Tunisian ceremony

Montasar and Leena married at Barcelo Hotel, Hammamet, Tunisia

Montasar and Leena – Why they Chose Tunisia

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Why Tunisia?

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“Montasar’s family are all from Tunisia,” says Leena. “Although I’m from London, we now live there and run our own small restaurant, so it was the perfect place for us to get married.”

Montasar and Leena – The Ceremony

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What was the ceremony like?

“It was very different to a traditional British ceremony – it lasts for days! On the first evening, I arrived at the Barcelo Hotel in Hammamet and the groom’s family was greeted in a marquee accompanied by Tunisian drums and pipes, plus there was a traditional Indian wedding greeting (I’m Indian), where my bridal party walked and danced through the grounds of the hotel – large crowds of hotel guests and general onlookers gathered to have a look and take photographs!”

Montasar and Leena – The Ceremony, Food and Entertainment

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“There was then a welcome from the mothers of each family and paste was applied to our forehead and rice sprinkled over our head (some family members like to spread this paste all over the grooms face for fun!) and offering of the coconut and exchange of Rose Garlands between the bride and groom. Finally, there was lots of dancing to a live Tunisian band and we also had some Bollywood music and some English dance music too. Food was a lamb BBQ and buffet dinner with hundreds of sweet dishes and a cake.”

Montasar and Leena – The Ceremony… Continued

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“The second day was the actual ceremony. I arrived and went to a private garden area in the hotel’s grounds where guests were already seated. I was accompanied by my father, three flower girls and a ring boy. It was a simple civil ceremony read in Arabic and English, followed by an exchange of rings and a wedding speech. It finished with a celebration sweet almond drink and and group photos as sun set.”

Montasar and Leena – The Reception

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What was the reception like?

“Around 200 guests came to our evening reception. When we arrived, we had a fun Indian game which involves stepping on to clay pots – whoever breaks the first pot is the future ruler of the household! We enjoyed canapés and drinks by the lit-up pool and there was a live singer and non-stop dancing – the Tunisians love to dance and everyone loved trying some Arabic dancing too. There were yet more sweet treats and another cake! At some point in the evening, the groom’s shoes were stolen and a ransom demanded by some of the bride’s female cousins (yet another Indian tradition)! Throwing my bouquet signaled the end of the evening. Throughout the wedding, a Boukourr was alight (a Tunisian tradition to ward off the bad eye).”

Montasar and Leena – Arranging their Wedding Abroad

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Was it easy to arrange?

“Honestly, no!  Thankfully my husband can speak the local language and wanted to help (although not the finer details, of course). Not being able to speak Arabic or French proved to be a challenge, but Montasar was at hand until we eventually found a venue where our 46 guests could stay and that could also accommodate the wedding and ceremony and 200 guests for the main reception.”

“Luckily, the co-ordinator at the hotel spoke English, so I was able to talk to her about the finer details, such as settings and music. We also needed a little bit of security as we had some gate-crashers (the singer we hired on the second night is pretty well known in Tunisia).”

“The administration was relatively straight forward and the British Embassy out here were able to help with most things – but check with the registrar thoroughly to ensure you have everything in place. The certificates after the wedding were all arranged in a day or so and the embassy will assist with registering it all back in the UK for a fee.”

Any tips?

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“Have FUN!  Arranging your own wedding and seeing it all fall into place is a dream. It was even better than I imagined – there were such a mix of cultures where most could not speak the other’s language and yet they all managed to communicate somehow and all have a great time – it was fantastic!”