What Is a Wedding Abaya?

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  • Written By: Donna Tinus
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 11 January 2020
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An abaya is a cloak-like dress that is worn by some Muslim women. The long-sleeved dress is designed to cover a woman from her neck to the floor to provide her with maximum modesty. Wearing a wedding abaya is traditional among Muslim women. Clothing may be worn under the abaya, if desired. Wedding abayat can be made from any type of cloth, in various colors.

The color of a wedding abaya is strictly up to the bride's discretion. Some women wear white, cream or champagne colored bridal abayas. Other women may wear an abaya in deep jewel tones on their wedding day. Traditional western wedding dresses are generally not appropriate for a Muslim woman who dresses in the modest hijab style, since they don't provide the amount of coverage desired by the woman who wants to dress modestly on her wedding day. An abaya is designed to hang loosely on a woman so her body shape is hidden.

Even though a wedding abaya is a loose-fitting piece of clothing, it can often be a fashion statement. There are many various designs of wedding abayat, from simple one piece outfits made from linen to richly-embellished silk or satin dresses. An abaya may even be made of two pieces, with one lighter material such as chiffon over a satin crepe material with lace trim.


When choosing an abaya, the bride-to-be should try on several different styles. The abaya may be the over-the-head type, where the dress is one piece that is put on by bringing it down over the head. Some bridal abayat are put on like a coat, then fastened in the front. Other wedding abaya designs require the wearer to bring the dress over her head, but it has a few fasteners on the side. Another style has a long slit on one side that requires another dress to be worn underneath. The underdress may be of a accent color, to add an interesting fashion statement.

When an abaya is worn, the woman will wear something similar to a long scarf to cover her head and neck. This is called a hijab or shayala. Some bridal abayat may come with a matching hijab, which makes it easy to shop for both pieces of clothing in one time. Hijabs are also available in various styles and colors, and don't necessarily need to match the wedding abaya.


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Post 3

@Iluviaporos - I don't think the abaya itself is necessarily bound to one culture. It's a word describing a style used in many countries. The style changes quite a bit depending on who makes the dress itself. An Indian abaya will look unique compared to a Middle Eastern abaya and each individual dress is going to be unique as well, just like wedding dresses are in every culture.

Post 2

@browncoat - Just be aware of cultural appropriation if you're thinking of using a design that is from a culture with which you don't identify.

I don't really think it's right for someone to just decide to wear a culturally or religiously significant piece of clothing because they think it looks pretty, especially if it's from an oppressed culture. If it truly has significance for you and you've done the research to ensure that you aren't being offensive, then that's one thing, but too many Western women pick and choose bits of other people's cultures to celebrate without understanding what they are celebrating.

Post 1

There are some stunningly beautiful wedding abayas out there. I'm not religious myself, although I have Middle Eastern heritage and I think I would seriously consider wearing one for my wedding. Some of the designs with lace and bead-work are what I would picture when thinking of the ultimate dress for royalty, and that's the way you'd want to look when you were getting married.

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