It’s not an easy or simple process for a foreign woman to travel to Saudi Arabia as the legal spouse of a Saudi man. It took Abdullah and I three separate marriages and almost 3 years to receive the marriage approval and in our case, our marriage ultimately had to be approved by King Abdullah.
I smile though as I think back on the three different ceremonies we had during our short seven years of marriage together before he passed away.
The first ceremony was a traditional and private Islamic ceremony with the two of us and two witnesses. The imam, following Arab tradition, insisted that my name be cited on the marriage certificate in Arab style with my first name followed by my father’s first name. In other words, Carol Mike married Abdullah Othman Al-Ajroush.
Needless to say when we are starting our processing for our journey to Saudi Arabia we had a problem. The name on the marriage certificate did not match the name on my passport or other important documents. So, we had marriage ceremony number two.
The second marriage took place in our home in Northern Virginia. Several of Abdullah’s colleagues from the Saudi Embassy were our witnesses. The Imam from the Islamic Center of Washington performed the ceremony. Not only did the marriage certificate reflect my full true and correct name, it was in both Arabic and English and witnessed with the signatures of Saudi officials.
Then, Abdullah was the one who insisted that we have a third marriage ceremony. He wanted to be assured that our marriage was also legally recognized and recorded in the United States. For our third ceremony, we had a private and lovely civil ceremony performed in our home. My son and daughter-in-law stood up with us as witnesses.
Now when we arrived in Saudi Arabia, initially his family suggested another ceremony. Thankfully, Abdullah persuaded his family that a “delayed” wedding party (reception) in honor of our marriage(s) would be more than sufficient.
Abdullah and I were both romantics so we took pleasure in celebrating each of our three individual wedding anniversaries annually.