Assyrian Wedding Traditions

Informant: Something that’s passed down, as far as Assyrian wedding traditions, is that the groom’s family has to go to the bride’s house the morning of the wedding before the church ceremony to “pick her up.” And while the groom and his groomsmen are waiting at the church, his relatives are all at the brides house singing and dancing, waiting to escort her to the church. Also, before they leave the house, a male relative of the bride—it’s usually like a brother or a close cousin—closes the front doors and ask for, or, I guess, demands a payment of some sort for the giving away of his relative (the bride). The payment is usually cash, and they negotiate the final amount at the door. After he—the relative—gets the money, he opens the door and everyone dances outside and gets in their cars and goes to the church.

The informant is a student at the University of Southern California. Aside from learning many Assyrian traditions from her parents, she has attended several weddings of relatives and has witnessed these traditions firsthand.

This particular custom of a male relative of the bride demanding compensation for her hand in marriage seems to be a remnant from the past. The informant acknowledge that, while a bit out of date in the contemporary United States, this aspect of the wedding is extremely important to Assyrians who are in touch with their family’s traditions.

The informant told me about Assyrian weddings while we were discussing the future possibility of marriage, and weddings we had been to in the past. She confirmed that her parents have asked that she marry an Assyrian man and preform these traditions at her own wedding. When I asked her if she would feel comfortable doing it, she nodded and confirmed that she liked the tradition because, as “archaic” as it seems to her, it “makes [her] feel connected to [her] family.”