The Moroccan wedding in 17 particularities
Fairy-like, traditional and high in color (and rhythmic vibrations!), the Moroccan wedding is unlike any other. The proof is in this article that decorates 17 particularities around the Moroccan wedding… Long live the bride and groom!
1. The meeting of the families
The story of a Moroccan wedding begins, most often, with a meeting between two lovers (or not, but it is increasingly rare…) and their respective families. According to tradition, the groom’s parents go to the family of the future wife to “ask for her hand in marriage”. Most often, the meeting between the families is the occasion to seal the commitment of the spouses and the agreement of the families but also and more simply to get acquainted. To the question: “Do you agree to take such a woman as your mother-in-law as your wife?”, the answer is (very often): “Yallah, let’s fix the date of the engagement!
2. The betrothal
The engagement, called khotba, confirms the commitment of the bride and groom… Like the wedding, it can be a full-fledged party with catering, music and caftan parades. They can also be limited to a simple meeting of families (in the extended sense) and friends around a tea or a meal. Traditionally, they take place at the home of the bride’s family, who are responsible for the preparation of the event. After the engagement ceremony, the actual wedding preparations can begin.
3. The preparations
In Morocco, the preparations for the wedding often take on a family dimension in which the parents of the bride and groom, but also the cousins, the neighbors and sometimes even, when the event takes place in the countryside, the entire village, are involved… In the to-do-list of the organizers, it is often a question of caterer, hall, neggafa (professional dresser), photographer, cameraman, decorator, musicians and other traditional bands that will accompany the procession of the bride and groom and animate the evening live.
Nothing is too beautiful, too lavish, too grand to celebrate the new sacred union. The party can take place in a party hall, under a tent set up in the garden or in the street near the home of the parents of the bride and groom, or even in the patio of a riad or on the roof terrace of a building, depending on the occasion. If the tendency is to shorten the duration of the wedding (formerly the ceremonial extended over 3 and 7 days), nothing is too beautiful, too pompous, too grandiose to celebrate the new sacred union. It is not uncommon for families to go into debt to finance an event worthy of Bollywood.
Because in Morocco, the wedding is a family, festive, social and religious event of great importance which gives rhythm to the seasons and the years better than any other. If the trend to personalization is timidly gaining ground in the cities, it is still the faithful respect of tradition that prevails. The wedding announcement does exist, but it is often replaced by the phone call, itself relayed by the telephone… Arabic! Result: it is not rare that the number of guests reaches 200, 300 or 500 people.
Essential to any Moroccan wedding: the neggafa orchestrates the event and part of the preparations. Here she is in charge of the bride’s traditional fassiya (Fez) outfit.
4. The exchange ritual
It is common for the bride and groom to exchange rings during the engagement (or ceremony) by giving each other milk to drink and dates to eat (a symbol of sweet life). Yes, Moroccan weddings have a kitschy romantic feel to them!
5. The adulatory act
In Morocco, going before the mayor is replaced by the signing of the adoulary act and for good reason: the notion of civil marriage does not exist here. The ceremony, called el kaghet (literally: the papers) is a pretext for new family celebrations which take place, most often, in a restricted committee (close family and close friends). The marriage certificate is established by the adoul (a kind of religious notary) and signed by both spouses in the presence of witnesses. After the signature, it is customary to recite the fatiha (the first verse of the Koran)… The party is launched!
6. The offering ritual
Between the engagement and the wedding, it is common for the future husband to shower the lucky bride with gifts and offerings called Hdiyya. These can be symbolic: milk, sugar, dates, Koran, henna, flowers… or material: silky fabrics, caftans, handbags, jewelry, perfumes, shoes. The contents of the Hdiyya vary according to the financial means of the groom’s family. Carefully arranged in large trays covered with conical lids called taifors, the gifts are given to the bride during a ceremony called the Hdiyya ceremony which is preceded by a musical procession. It should be noted that these gifts are often assimilated to the bride’s dowry.
7. The dowry
An essential condition for the validity of the marriage, the dowry (sadaq) is a sum of money or goods constituted by the suitor for the benefit of his wife. Contractualized by the adouls during the ceremony of the act, the dowry is governed by the family code of Morocco which draws its inspiration from the Holy Koran and the Sunna. Thus, to consolidate “the desire to create a home and to live in the bonds of mutual affection”, the future groom will offer his wife a large sum of money, livestock, a piece of furniture or even an apartment (it is rarer)… If the legal basis of the dowry consists in its moral and symbolic value (Article 26 of the Family Code), it is to be noted that it is more often the material value that prevails. To the point of being perceived as an economic burden by some families who do not hesitate to put the dowry on the table of the marriage negotiations. Many couples, judging the dowry to be humiliating, opt for the contribution of a symbolic dirham!
8. The Hammam ritual – EVJF Act I
In Morocco, the Bachelorette party as we know it in our country is often replaced by a number of “before” ceremonies. 100% girly, the passage to the hammam is an ancient ritual of purification and relaxation that often precedes the D-day.
9. The henna ritual – EVJF Act II
After the hammam ceremony, it’s time for the henna ceremony that takes place the day before the big day, or even during the afternoon before the big party. A hennaya (henna tattooist) tattoos the hands and/or feet of the bride, pulsating with the youyous and the traditional dances and songs of the women (friends, cousins, aunts, mothers, etc.) who follow one another. The whole thing takes place in a good-natured atmosphere (no dares, challenges or chippendales in the Moroccan EVJF…). The guests who wish to be tattooed do not cut the beautiful stylized and geometrical arabesques, symbols of happiness and prosperity for the future life.
The variations around the Moroccan wedding. Of course, the Made In Morocco wedding varies according to the regions, the families but also the social origin of the families. In the countryside, it is not uncommon for the preparation of the wedding to mobilize the entire douar (village) and last for several days. In some regions of the Rif, the mix is not de rigueur: women on one side, men on the other. The atmosphere is sometimes festive (the guests and the bride and groom dance), sometimes wise (the guests discuss and observe each other).
In the posh districts of the big cities, the wedding can sometimes take on the air of an Open Bar with DJ and champagne galore… or even turn into a “éclatade” with 3200 round tables at the edge of the pleasure pool or float a Welcome in “niniphars” (the floating flowers of Mrs. Tazi – Poke Gad ElMaleh)… You have understood, in Morocco (as elsewhere), there are 1000 ways – or more exactly 1001 ways – to celebrate the wedding!
10. The beauty salon
The bride must be the most beautiful to go dancing (even if she won’t dance… or not much!). To do this, she must go to the beauty salon. Hairstyle, makeup, manicure, pedicure, waxing, eyelash extensions, facials, nail polish… We don’t skimp on the total makeover… even if we have to force the dose (sometimes) a bit!
11. Dress code of the guests
The guests start to flock to the wedding place around 8 or 9 pm… The bride is not there yet (she rarely appears before 11 pm!). However the visual and sound show has already begun. Caftans, takchitas and silky finery parade to the rhythm of traditional songs propelled by the orchestra. The colors are everywhere: fuchia, gold, pink, red, blue, green, orange to the point that we wonder if the bride will be able to compete. It’s time to greet, to meet, to hug and fruit juices, tea, snacks and dried fruits are invited on the tables.
12. The Amariya
The procession of the bride and groom makes a lot of noise in the street… Bendir (percussion instrument), ghayta (wind instrument) and traditional songs announce the arrival of the bride who soon makes a very noticed entrance in the room. Sitting on her Amariya (a kind of wooden palanquin), the bride is lifted by porters in white cape who make her waltz in rhythm in the room. The youyous burst from all sides, the applause resounds, rose petals fly in burst on the bride, the emotions are untied to the rhythm of the music. At this moment, the guests are literally transported in the universe of 1001 nights… And the groom, you ask? He is there, at the foot of his sweetheart … yes but here he is, we hardly see him … And for good reason, the eyes have only for the bride!
13. The bride’s outfit
In Morocco, it is not a question of the bride’s dress, but of the bride’s dresses (note the plural of the word “dress”)… A real fashion show worthy of the Fashion Week! Three outfits (the minimum), four outfits, five outfits or seven outfits: it depends. The Takchita haute-couture, a kind of long lined dress, silky and satiny held by a wide belt opens the ball.
Caftans and regional outfits then take over. The Fassiya (from Fez), the R’batia (from Rabat), the Saharouiya (from the Sahara), the Soussia (from the Souss region) or the Chamaliya (from the North) offer a glimpse of the Kingdom’s most beautiful clothing traditions. The white dress, known as European, is very often part of the party as well as (more rare) the Indian sari. The traveler who has the chance to take part in the ceremony during a stay in Morocco is on orbit! This is without mentioning the necklaces, tiaras, earrings and jewelry sets. The bride, a real modern day Sherazade, is a real eye catcher…
And the groom, you may ask? He is always there, effaced behind the queen of the evening… It is not for lack of having made efforts to put on his most beautiful costume, his most beautiful djellaba, his most beautiful gandoura… But no, there is always only for the bride!
14. The neggafat
True wedding planer “Moroccan style”, the neggafat are the guarantors of the respect of the Moroccan wedding rites. There are 4 or 5 of them, they assist the bride throughout the evening. Timing, outfits, jewelry, makeup, hair: nothing escapes them. Not even the folds of the caftan which must fall as it should for the photograph or the posture of the bride which must be worthy of the official princess of Morocco. In the cities, the best neggafat, the ones that have a reputation or are fashionable, are snapped up. Note that there are also some negaf’ (men in charge) but it is rather rare.
15. The throne of the bride and groom
A raised dais topped by a sofa with a halo of cushions and flowers that sits prominently in the wedding hall… Késako? It is the throne of the bride and groom! Between two parades of outfits, it offers its cozy seat to the happy couple who will be able to be admired by all. For the guests, it will also be the occasion to be photographed with the stars of the evening.
16. The wedding meal
No table plan in Moroccan weddings, you sit where you want, with whom you want. On the menu? The classic (and pantagruelian) wedding dinner (pastilla, mechoui, fruit basket and ice cream cake) tends to be replaced more and more by dishes and formulas inspired by other countries (cocktail parties, buffets etc.).
Throughout the evening, fresh fruit juice and mint tea accompany the pastries. Then, towards the end of the evening, the cake makes its entrance and is the pretext for a whole photographic ceremony of “cake cutting”. In some weddings, the harira closes the party in the morning, just like the French onion soup.
Don’t look for champagne or wine, there is none (or very rarely): Muslim weddings are obligatory. And if there is some, you often have to look for it in a reserved bar, separated from the main room… or even in the trunks of the vehicles on the parking lot. But, you didn’t come for that, did you?
The mechoui: a great classic of Moroccan wedding meals (vegetarians: skip it!).
17. The music
If the event is visual, it is also sonorous… Impossible for the neighbors who would not be invited to the party to ignore the wedding of their neighbors! Arabo-Andalusian orchestras (classical and melodic genre), châabi music groups (popular and festive genre) and/or Dakka Marrakchias (popular genre of Marrakech) share the musical scene of the event which balances between atmospheric melodies and rhythmic pulsating parts. When the assembly takes off, the clapping of hands fuses, the dance circles widen and the bodies vibrate in tune with the pulsations. The most experienced dancers shake their hips, shoulders and legs in rhythm… It’s a party!
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