Newlywed Josiana Abboud recently married her husband at a collective wedding ceremony in Bkirki with 41 other couples, at an event Sunday organized by the Maronite League.
Abboud’s decision came about when she and her fiance realized they wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for a complete wedding.
Before applying at the league’s office in Beirut, she was initially hesitant as she worried the experience wouldn’t be “as personal” as a typical wedding. However, Abboud ultimately said she felt the experience was a positive one.
This year’s ceremony took place at a service led by Patriarch Beshara Rai, with an allowance of 120 guests per couple.
In addition to the Maronite League, collective weddings take place all over Lebanon, including in Sidon (organized by the Future Movement), Baalbeck (arranged by Hezbollah) and Zahle (for various Christian sects), according to local media reports.
“Aside from throwing the wedding ceremony, the league also pays for the bride and groom’s attire, photography, decorations, health insurance for one year, car service, as well as a gift of $2,000 dollars, to name a few,” said Fadi Gerges, who is the president of the Maronite League’s Social Affairs and Internal Activities Committee.
For nine years, the league has been granting couples in financial difficulty the opportunity to have a marriage ceremony, in addition to subsequent support.
“We don’t just help the couples with a wedding ceremony – we also provide a lifetime of help whenever necessary,” Gerges said.
“For example, six months ago a couple who wedded through our collective ceremony was experiencing financial difficulties following the groom’s job loss. We provided them with monetary aid.”
He said that those who wish to get married in a collective wedding under the Maronite League can submit their names to the league’s board.
Meanwhile in the Bekaa, more than 100 brides and grooms from across Lebanon celebrated their marriages in a collective wedding ceremony in Baalbeck in late August.
Since 1998, the Association of Owners of Institutions and Shops in the Bekaa has been organizing mass wedding ceremonies for couples under the patronage of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
“The goal is to allow young couples who are financially unable to pay for their own wedding, to celebrate their marriage,” said Sobhi Blook, a journalist with Lynx News who has covered these weddings extensively over the years.
One hundred and sixteen couples participated in this year’s ceremony, and as per the association’s tradition, each couple is given $1,000 dollars.
However, Blook said there is one restriction in eligibility: “Although the bride can get married in a joint wedding ceremony if she has been divorced from a previous marriage, the groom is not allowed to have been married before.”
The association also used to provide newlyweds with a hotel room on their wedding night, but has discontinued the practice since 2016 after hotels stopped offering them free rooms.
For Abboud, the collective wedding ceremony in which she and her husband participated was an exciting opportunity.
“The wedding was an amazing experience,” she said.
“It was not stressful as the organizers took care of most things. They made it a personal experience.”
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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