When it comes to Moroccan weddings, Moroccans know better than anyone how to do it big! For Moroccans, a wedding should really be a big party for the bride and groom, so money is often not an issue. If I have to be honest, I try to avoid Moroccan weddings as much as possible. I always feel like everything is the same. Still, there are always things that are different. I’m going to talk about Moroccan wedding traditions in this blog.
ASK FOR SOMEONE’S HAND
Personally, I’m not into it yet, no matter how many times I get the question, “When are you getting married?” But through experiences with family members, I do know what steps are taken before they are allowed to marry each other. If a Moroccan young man wants to get married, the first thing he does is go to the parents of the woman in question, either alone or accompanied by one of his relatives. It may also be that a person, has a family member ask for the woman’s hand. This then also happens at her parents’ house. For example, the father of the man speaks to the father of the woman.
After this happens, the boy takes his family members to meet the girl’s family. Often the boy brings his parents, brother(s), sister(s), and grandparents. The girl then also invites her family and they get together for an engagement party.
In this way, the father can get to know the boy and his family to whom he is “giving away” his daughter. The girl’s mother usually provides dinner for all the relatives.
If the woman and her family agree to the marriage, then they should come to an agreement regarding the dowry. A dowry is really for the woman. The woman’s relatives donate a gift to her. This can be a refrigerator, but in most cases, this is money. With the husband they also agree on a sum of money, if the husband wants to divorce his wife, he must give her a sum of money so that she is not left empty-handed.
MOROCCAN WEDDING PREPARATION
As I had mentioned, I’m not yet into the whole wedding thing. However, I have been able to watch along with my cousins. A Moroccan wedding takes an enormous amount of time. Before you can even start looking at what the bride and groom want, everyone in the family has an opinion about it. The future couple looks at venues, catering, dresses, suits for the man, and so on.
Fortunately, most Moroccans are not averse to spending a lot of money on this unforgettable day. Because it takes some time to prepare a Moroccan wedding, most Moroccan couples are already married beforehand in berber law but do not live together yet. Civil marriage is contracted at least six months before the Moroccan wedding. A Moroccan wedding has three parts, the Henna day, the wedding day, and the breakfast. Hence, a Moroccan wedding often lasts three days, but again this depends on each family.
Many of the traditions Moroccans have in their marriage often come from Islam. Such as the henna is seen as a source of power in many Islamic countries. It is said to keep evil spirits out, allowing the bride to enter the wedding with peace of mind. In the past, the henna was simply smeared on the feet and hands, but nowadays you can also make several beautiful decorations by using a small syringe without a needle.
A Henna evening is really for the family circle of the bride and groom. Therefore, the henna evening is an evening that is celebrated in an intimate circle. The bride and groom both celebrate this day with their own family and acquaintances. For the Moroccan henna, there is also special clothing. The groom wears a white Djellaba with a white ‘Serham’ underneath this is a kind of cape with flat pointed shoes underneath. The groom is sounded out by the men step by step. The men sing the Arazik.
I can still remember this. As a little girl, I often saw this in Morocco. My uncle was brought to the tent by two brothers and other family members then sang the Arazik in circles. I always thought that was the best part of the wedding. As a little girl, I saw my uncle in a very different way than I normally saw him. After this, the groom gets henna on his palm or little finger.
I always find it a little less exciting with the woman. She is brought to the tent by her sisters-in-law and the bride wears a white dress with white slippers underneath. The hair is often separated with two braids (if the bride wears a headscarf she often puts a short one on top). Traditionally, the bride wears no makeup on a henna night.
THE MOROCCAN WEDDING DAY:
The second day of the Moroccan wedding is then the official wedding day. On this day, a bride wears a “regular” wedding dress. She sits at home and is then picked up by the groom’s family. With a bridal procession, she and her husband-to-be are taken to a beautiful place to take pictures together, often they look for the most beautiful car in the family, but nowadays it is also the case that a car is rented. The mother of the bride is left at home and is brought to the party location by often her child in advance to welcome the guests.
When the bride and groom have finished their photos, they are also escorted to the party location by traditional singing and music. For this, the bride and groom will sit on special “king” chairs. Then the bride will change clothes and the whole ritual will be repeated. This can vary per bride, this can be three, four, five times. Each time the bride wears a different dress and these are often straight dresses, richly decorated, which are made up with a belt. The Moroccan wedding is a separate party for men and women. Throughout the evening, pictures are taken of the bride, this really should be her day. And throughout the day, tea and cookies are served for the guests.
At the end of the day, she wears the same dress again. At that time, the rings are exchanged. In between, pictures of the couple are taken. Then the bride and groom cut the wedding cake. Milk and dates are given in the process, milk representing purity, virginity, and the dates fertility. After the marriage, the father of the bride must be present. Without the father’s permission, no marriage can take place. Then the rest of the evening revolves around celebration with traditional music, snacks, and drinks.
THE BERBER MOROCCAN WEDDING :
From the interior, a Berber/Euro wedding with a heavy focus on the Berber. What an honor to be invited to Yahya’s elder brother’s wedding. He is not just family, but he and his wife have been coworkers for a long time. Yahya’s nephew and his new bride were also married at the same time, making the wedding a double celebration.
Of course, Yahya had a significant part to play over multiple days – the extent of the logistics required to welcome hundreds of friends/family from the village on the ‘largest day’ is impossible to express from the periphery. When we weren’t enjoying the music and festival atmosphere on the street below, neighbors and other family members all opened their doors, and men/women/overseas visitors were all accommodated between different residences. Then, of course, someone had to direct the clean-up effort!
Simply put, the wedding was a huge success; everyone in the family worked tirelessly to provide the brides and grooms with the long-awaited celebration… The groom is also responsible for a substantial portion of traditional wedding planning. One of the brides had a lot on her plate — guaranteeing the punctual arrival of over 20 family and friends from Belgium is no easy task! Neither is adopting several days of Berber ritual, which she takes in stride.
A traditional Moroccan Berber wedding is unlike any other you’ve ever witnessed. And by all accounts, this one was a scaled-down’ version!
The symbolism is vital – the type of dress (women & men), henna & saffron tattooing (women) & henna bathing (men), jewelry, head and garment adornments, colors, songs – not to mention the strong feeling of community and the importance of the family… What cannot be predicted ahead of time is the collective mood and spirit of the three days. It was quite emotional, especially on the first full day.
The first full day is when the bride and groom first meet… As a result, this day symbolizes their union.
The new bride gets shrouded and dressed with a headpiece in the morning (image at right). She’s had henna tattoos on her hands and feet for at least two days. She is seated with significant family members, her mother behind her, and local elder ladies. While the bride’s headpiece is being adorned and knotted, the women chant. This is traditionally held in the bride’s family house, as she will marry a guy from the same community. After the bride has finished getting dressed, there will be time for pictures and some socializing with relatives. We are unable to post many photographs due to privacy concerns.
Then she is transported to be seated on a camel, which will transport her to her husband’s house. During her travel to her new home, there is a ‘war of wills’ (all tradition of course). The ladies in her family try to stall her development (there is no rush to start a new married life! ), whilst the males in his family support it. This ‘fight’ extends the procession to the new residence, and all the while there is chanting and drumming to accompany the unhurried trek forward. The ladies of the village move in unison, chanting and ululating. When the bride arrives at her new house, she is placed on a tiny pedestal in a caudal tent, surrounded by female relatives. The remainder of the women that took part in the procedure. The remaining ladies who took part in the parade through the village sit in tiny groups inside the tent.
Meanwhile, the groom is separated and is not allowed to leave his house all day – despite how tempting it is with all the bustle he can hear outside — he is not able to observe the bridal procession. Family and friends are welcome to pay him a visit, but he is confined to his room. There is a lot of tea-sipping going on! The groom also dresses in traditional attire and puts on make-up.
This is frequently spread out across two days in traditional weddings. The bride and groom were reunited in private at the end of the first day on this occasion.
While we wait for the bride and groom to return to the village celebration, there is much singing and drumming, a kind of music known as ‘Ahidous.’ Men and women sing and play in separate lines, facing each other. The lines move in time, to and fro, side to side, and then rotate. The songs are traditional Berber melodies about marriage and love.
Following that, the bride and groom are driven back to the wedding party in a procession of automobiles that drive slowly through the hamlet, decked with flags and loud blasting of car horns. The newlyweds have separated once again until the groom can reveal the bride. The groom joins his family in singing and drumming. In the Caidal tent, the bride.
We congratulate the newlyweds and settle down to hefty plates of beef couscous after the bride is ‘unveiled’ to family and friends (this traditionally happens at the end of the second day).