Moroccan Wedding on the Cards? Start Saving Now
Thinking of hopping down to Las Vegas? Forget it! Moroccan marriages are traditionally, well…elaborate and expensive! Once the dowry has been paid, the bride also receives gifts of jewellery and is sent cloth, clothing, and perfume from her groom every feast day during the courtship, which typically lasts from 6 months to 2 years.
If all goes well during this time and a wedding date is set, it’s time for the real preparations to get underway.
T Minus 5 to The Big Day
5 days before the wedding, necessities are delivered to the bridal chamber and the bride has her hammam (milk bath) to purify her before her big day. Negaffa (female attendants) supervise and beautify her. The lucky lady is dressed in a white caftan and decorated with jewellery, and her eyes are painted with kohl.
Next comes the beberiska or henna painting ceremony where the bride’s hands and feet are painted with intricate and geometric designs to ward off evil spirits, bring good luck and increase fertility. The groom’s name is often hidden in the henna. The negaffa discuss the ’secrets’ of marriage with the young virgin and in some ceremonies the bride stands behind a curtain to symbolize her change of lifestyle. Here’s the best part of the deal if you ask me: the bride is not expected to do any housework until her henna has faded.
Then it’s time for food preparation in anticipation of the big day itself. One thing’s for sure, nobody leaves a Moroccan wedding hungry. In the olden days, the families prepared the marriage feast, although today, this often falls to the hands of hired caterers.
Signs of The Times
Although the hammam bath is still a fixture in more rural areas, it is sometimes omitted in the cities and towns. The marriage caftan is still worn, but more often than not these days, it’s machine made to help save costs. “Modern” women sometimes also choose rejected the intricate henna designs that usually adorn the bride. Others choose to maintain the tradition but employ someone paint the hands of guests with henna instead.
Today, many young Moroccans choose their own marriage partners and seek their parent’s blessing on the arrangement. In the past, a marriage partner was always chosen for them. The celebrations still take place at different locations for the men and woman as they have for centuries.
Traditionally, the groom would leave to make his way towards the bridal party accompanied by a group of friends who sing, beat drums and dance. Today, wedding music is traditional Berber, Andalusian or Arabian, or modern tunes played on traditional instruments. The young groom is accompanied by singing, dancing friends although these days, car hooters are often thrown into the mix!
Proof of Purity
In times gone by, once the marriage had been pronounced, the wedding ceremony saw a Moroccan bride lifted up on a circular cushion or table and the groom on the shoulders of his friends. The two would then be carried to the bridal chamber where they would be expected to consummate their marriage, and the sheet checked for blood to confirm the bride’s virginity. The two would journey to their new home and the bride would circle her home three times before becoming the keeper of her new hearth.
Nowadays, instead of immediately consummating their marriage, the two parties get together and the bride changes into an outfit reflecting her region. After more partying and merriment, she then changes again and the newlywed couple leaves the party for their first taste of time alone together. Hotels have largely replaced the traditional marriage chamber and the bloodstained sheet is no longer a requisite in many parts of Morocco.
The Fun Never Stops…
Throughout the week, the newlyweds visit friends and relatives and show off their new home and gifts. Even with the modifications modernity has made to tradition, marriage is still considered the most important decision that a Moroccan man and woman can make.