Walking into "The Summer Fair for Bridal Preparation" can be best described as stepping into a live infomercial channel. There was possibly nothing within the confines of the vibrant tent that didn’t fill a crevice in an Egyptian Brides needs. From crockery and bed sheets to beauty products and sauna machines, each stall you wander past instinctively draws you in, and while not everything on offer is practical or appealing, you can’t help but take a look if only for curiosity’s sake.
The Bridal Fair is a long running annual summer affair, which up until this year has showcased in the Cairo Exhibition Grounds (Ard El Maared), but moved to the Cairo Stadium. Businesses big and small come offering their goods in lavishly and often not so lavishly dressed stalls. Overall it would be fair to say that the stalls were split into home ware, clothing, beauty products and absolutely frivolous.
Of the more popular home ware stalls was one specializing in kitchen goods, with products such as tea sets for LE200 to complete Japanese and German kitchen dinner sets, the latter being the pricier at 1200LE per set. Other highlights in the home ware stalls were artwork, furniture and dazzling chandeliers. A personal favorite was the bridal bed covers, with beading, glittery frills, all shiny fabrics imaginable and any other reflective surfaces your heart desires all on one cover, starting at 450LE upwards.
As one would expect, the mere turn of the head in the general direction of a stall is taken as an open invitation for its respective commandeers to snare you into a "look how wonderful my products are" diatribe. Whilte trying to convince a crockery salesman that I really wasn’t interested in buying a china dinner set wonderfully embellished in gold, we somehow stumbled revolution small-talk, "things are much slower this year, we've been showcasing at the fair for the past 2 years and last year you could barely walk due to the huge amount of people,” Mohamed the salesman explained. “We come all the way from Port Said."
Beauty products stalls were when things got really interesting. This is where the art of imitation really took flight with stalls selling "babyliss" brand hair irons costing you LE120 with helpfully pre-opened packaging. While others specialized in perfumes that looked suspiciously like the perfumes you’ve come to know and love, but after some questioning the sales person later clarified that though they were imitations they were nonetheless "made in France."
It must be said that there were many other stalls selling authentic products. Walking towards one such stall, you get the impression that it’s an oddly placed spice stall. Unfortunately, a few more steps and the labels start taking shape. What initially looked like colorful scented candles are now clearly marked as "Cream for the Pody." Other products on offer were "Palestinian face scrubs" and "Syrian hair masks" though the faint of heart would think twice before sampling the plentiful array of goop.
Surprisingly, the key ingredient in the marriage dish, at least for the bride, was missing. As you made your way through the fair, the glimmering hope of spotting the white flagship of dresses slowly but surely dwindled. You could find an endless selection of lingerie, bedroom ensembles and even seductive aprons but the dresses were nowhere to be found. Despite the let down, it is comforting to know that when it comes to Egyptian weddings, getting married is definitely not all about the dress.
The Bridal Fair will remain at the Cairo Stadium Grounds until 30 June.