The Bride Wore Black

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The Bride Wore Black

by Signe Mikkelsen
Apr 18, 2015

COPENHAGEN TOWN HALL SQUARE – It brings joy to see newly married couples coming out of the church, or the town hall if it is a registry-office wedding. Family and friends dressed in their best clothes are gathered around the steps up to the main entrance and they attract passersby and tourists.

The expectations rises among the people waiting as two men in dinner jackets opened the large doors of the Copenhagen Town Hall from the inside on this chilly but sunny Saturday in April not long after noon. Soon after those closest to the stairs began waving paper flags and applauding and some Arab style female howls sounded as well.

This couple was a real treat for the passersby and tourists. The groom was a very handsome happily smiling young man with Arabian features wearing a black dinner jacket with a green bow tie, with the bride in white, which is not that common at registry-office weddings.

the_bride_wore_black1But she was far from the typical white bride smiling from beneath a thin transparent tulle veil. The white clothing was ground sweeping yet had no train, and it was not really a dress or gown with lace, embroidery or some other form of decoration, but rather a long hooded cape in plain white satin totally hiding the bride. Her feet, legs, hands and arms were not visible and the little of the face the hood didn’t cover was hidden under several layers of thick white tulle covering the chest and shoulders as well. The onlookers had no clue as to if the bride was smiling or not; and the bride might very well be unable to see who had come to celebrate her marriage.

The celebration at first continued in the usual way with the people closest to the stairs gathering closely around the newly married couple. Rice was thrown, they were embraced and a lot of greetings were made. The celebrations stopped sooner than normal with the bridal couple moving out of the initial group with only few following them and into what had emerged as a second group. Now the cheering was dominated by Arab howls and it became noticeable that the men only embraced and congratulated the groom and the women only the bride. This ended after an even shorter time than the first group’s gathering, but in a way which sent a shock through the unrelated onlookers:
The groom stripped the veil and the cape off the bride resulting in loud howls and applause from those around them when a figure totally dressed in black appeared. This was very odd and the clothing, aside from being black, was little festive in plain black cotton. It could now be seen that a ground sweeping dress hid the feet and hanging down from the top of the head was a long piece of clothing covering the bride’s hands and arms and all bodily forms down to the knees, and finally a long veil reaching down over her chest and shoulders hid the face including the eyes. The eye area was just visible but semi-transparent fabric shrouded any hint of the eyes.

The strange looking couple started walking towards Vester Voldgade where one of the larger BMW models was parked at the kerb. Your reporter got up next to the groom.

“Signe Mikkelsen, City Bladet. I am interested in writing a piece with possibly a photo on our site about this unusual incident. Would you give a brief explanation?”

the_bride_wore_black2

“Yer, it was meant to be a shock, especially to her family. With several dozens cameras documenting it we might as well get the truth out in the media but it can’t be explained in a minute. As you are a female and if you have the time and don’t mind having to make your own way home from the mosque in Rovsingsgade then jump in.”

While talking a man who appeared to be family member of the groom’s had helped the bride onto the back seat, and then rather unusually the groom opened the right front door to take the passenger’s seat, so ‘jump in’ meant sitting in the back seat next to the bride.

“I am Farid, Ahmed is my brother and my soon to be wife is called Nabila. Yes, we have just been at the marriage-registry, but that was just to appease Nabila’s family. We are about to get truly married as we see it in less than an hour at the mosque.

When we told Nabila’s family that we were going to marry at the mosque they got very upset and said that Nabila had already disappointed them once by converting to Islam, now the least she could do for them was to have an almost traditional Danish wedding, and as it could not be in a church it had to be at the town hall.

Nabila and I agreed on that, but then it came to the next dispute between the traditional Danish wedding dinner at the inn of the small town where her dad is from or a Muslim wedding reception, for which I had already booked the hall at the Muslim Community Centre. Nabila’s parents were absolutely certain that her family and old school friends wouldn’t take part in a sex segregated gathering and have Moroccan cuisine. They really meant they would not take part themselves. Nabila and I then decided on doing both as her parents would pay for the inn. This afternoon we are having the Muslim reception with my family and friends and Nabila’s current mostly Muslim friends, and the dinner at the inn tomorrow evening with her family, my parents, Ahmed and some other people her parents have invited.

None of us really liked what we have agreed on but Nabila would like to stay on reasonable terms with her parents. Then one of the few old friends who has remained her friend after she converted, in a typically Danish way suggested we should just screw up the parts we didn’t like in such a way that nobody could question that we hadn’t done as agreed on.
We are not happy about the idea of the stunt we just did. A woman should not be the centre of public attention but should be little attractive, unobtrusive and go unnoticed, which is why Nabila wears loose black clothing so as to hide all her female assets of which the face and especially the eyes are the most alluring. What Nabila is now wearing is what she always wears when in a public place. A righteous Muslim woman does not dress up for the public part of a wedding or any other celebrations.”

“But you made the stunt as you call it anyway?”

“Yes, no one came up with a better idea and the Danish part of both me and Nabila liked it, so we consulted our Imam who said we were right about our reservations but Nabila would not reveal anything she didn’t show normally and the white wedding dress originated in Jordan and is used at Hamas weddings. No one but us in here and the woman who suggested it knew about the stunt or at least that we would really do it. I think it worked. Did you notice that all of the islamophobics took to their heels towards Copenhagen Central instead of coming with us to the car and wish us good luck?”

“And what stunt are you going to do tomorrow? I promise not to publish this until Sunday evening.”

“From our point of view none. Nabila is just coming dressed as you see her now, and of course she is only communicating with the women and only if there are no men taking part in the conversation. This will be the talk of the town for many days out there and we will for sure feature in the local press, but you will be first and you have got the truth.”

“Thank you very much for this interesting and unusual explanation. It may be a little rude after you have been so kind but a journalist needs confirmation from all parties. Is this the true story Nabila? Or is there anything you would like to rectify? Or add?”

Surprisingly she answers by first nodding her head and then twice shaking her head. “Being unobtrusive also means not making a sound. Nabila has chosen to wear a gag in public,” says Farid.

A black gloved hand surprisingly appears from beneath the black garment that Nabila wears and guides my hand up under the veil. I feel that her lower face is further covered by a second veil reaching up into her field of view, and underneath this veil a large ball protrudes from her mouth.

Copyright 2015 City Bladet

Editor’s note: If the title rings a bell it is known from the French movie from 1968 The Bride Wore Black (La mariée était en noir) directed by François Truffaut.

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