Zaffa is an important element of traditional Arab weddings in the Middle East. There is a complete section for zaffe on the Arabic interface of Arabia Weddings, here we highlight the main elements of interest to no-Arabic speakers.
A zaffe or zaffa (based on the dialect) is one of the most important elements in Arab weddings that take place in the Middle East and around the world. In Arab culture, particularly Lebanese, Palestinean, Jordanian, Syrian and others, the zaffe is a musical procession of drums, bagpipes, horns and dancers. The zaffa is normally the happiest part of every wedding, it is the part where everyone gets excited to start celebrating your big day.
At many Arab weddings, the zaffa starts at the house of the bride, where the zaffa group escorts the bride out of her house to, either the wedding car that will transport her to the wedding reception, or directly to the wedding reception if it is closeby. This zaffa group is normally smaller in size to the zaffa group that is awaiting the bride and groom at the wedding venue. Donned in traditional costumes, the group is made up of a drummer, some bagpipers, male dancers and, in some cases, a folklore singer.
Zaffa traditions vary from country to country, they are most elaborate in Lebanon where a traditional zaffa group could become a huge show performance of dozens of male and female dancers performing on a large stage, in different bright costumes and styles using different props, musicians and singers.
The zaffa performance is normally kept short. At the bride's house it's somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, while at the wedding venue it is around 15 minutes going up to a maximum of 30 minutes at some weddings. As soon as the zaffe is over, the first dance of the bride and groom begins. Here's a list of some Arabic songs that are perfect for the First Dance.
The Lebanese zaffe is a show stopper. It is a performance made up of several members of a zaffe group, dancers and drummers in traditional costumes, who escort the bride and groom into the main wedding reception. In many cases, the bride mounts a 'houdaj' - a word derived from the Arabic language which means a decorated seat carried by members of the zaffe group (above the level of their shoulders) or mounted on a carriage. The traditional Lebanese dabkeh, folklore dancing, is a big part of the Lebanese zaffe.
In most weddings, the zaffe group leads the couple to the dance floor, while in some cases, the couple prefer to walk into the wedding to the tunes of a popular Lebanese or international song. In the latter case, we suggest that you check out The Top Lebanese Wedding Songs for Your Entrance.
In Lebanon, there are many Lebanese zaffe groups that you can book for your wedding. Most of them have YouTube videos and websites to show you their performances and styles. Read: The Top Lebanese Zaffe Bands. Many of these groups also travel within the region and beyond to perform at Lebanese weddings and other Arab weddings. For a full list of zaffeh groups in Beirut, check this directory.
Switch to the Arabic interface of Arabia Weddings to browse through the selection of Arabic zaffa songs compiled for you. For specific Gulf zaffa songs popular in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries, follow the link to listen to some of the best zaffe songs by Hussein Al Jasmi, Balqis Fathi, Rashed al Majed, Mohammed Abdo and many others.