Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Moroccan Wedding

Me, Driss, and Colby
These women would yell to announce the arrival of a guest

          I was lucky enough to be invited to a Moroccan wedding by my host brother’s older cousin. Our host mom (goes by the name of Mama Maghrib) somehow got both Colby and me elaborate Kaftans to wear and after we dressed up, did our hair and makeup, and took pictures with all the boys, we were ready to go at 10. We walked to the venue which was still in the Medina and when we walked through the door, four women started yelling and chanting in unison to announce our arrival. All the heads turned to see who had arrived and we greeted a few strangers and then took our seats at a table with our host brother, Driss, and some of his extended family. Everyone was sitting and people watching. The women wore elaborate Kaftans and it was a competition of who could have the best, brightest dress. It reminded me a lot of a fashion show where the women would take turns walking around with no particular destination. Driss and his cousins had to help the groom’s party so Colby and I were left alone with a table full of older, non-English speaking women. We sat and looked at all the dresses and people for THREE HOURS before anything interesting took place.
          It was midnight at this point and all of a sudden the four women started yelling again and trumpets were playing and people were clapping. The bride was carried in the door on a platform decorated with jewels and ribbons and the groom was on the shoulders of one of his friends. Everyone clapped and cheered as the bride and groom smiled and waved down to the crowd. This event took about 30 minutes as they made their way to the front of the room and then were let down. They took their places on a large white sofa with lights and curtains adorning the wall. They posed for pictures as everyone watched and the music blared.
The first dress
          Dinner started around 1 am. The first part was the cart full of bread. Everyone received two rounds of bread (A round is maybe 12 inches in diameter!) and as much Coke and Fanta as we wanted. A large silver platter was then placed in the middle of the table and four full chickens were revealed inside. The second the plate cover was removed, everyone at the table lunged forward and started tearing the chicken apart with their hands. Colby and I, like we always seem to do, just shrugged and dug right in. I decided to be really flexible with being a vegetarian when I’m here so I didn’t have a problem eating the chicken. It was obvious that Colby and I were foreigners and didn’t know the customs so a woman sitting near us kept tearing off pieces of chicken and placing them in front of us so that we didn’t get the sleeves of our Kaftans dirty. After there were only bones left, the waiter took the platter away and brought back another large platter filled with roast beef. The same thing happened as with the chicken and by this point we were all stuffed with meat and bread and Coke. Hand towels were brought out and the waiters cleared all the glasses first, then the napkins, then the meat scraps, and then proceeded to lift the entire table over our heads. We could only assume it was time for the ceremony.
          We were very wrong. Another hour or so passed of sitting around and people watching before anything happened. The women started yelling and trumpets played and the bride and groom came in again and waved and smiled from their sofa seats for another long amount of time. At this point, two small children were lifted on a platform and carried around just like the bride and groom had. Everyone gave these children the same enthusiasm as they had given the bride and groom. At this point, some girls started dancing in the middle of the room and other people started joining. Colby and I decided to get up and dance as all the older women watched us. We were not sure how to dance because we did not want to stand out any more than we did and we didn’t want to look like total losers, either. We ended up just clapping and swaying to the music like everyone else and it was so much fun!
The second dress
          It was 4 am and Driss and his cousins were ready to go. They informed us that the party would last until 6 or 7 am, but it would be the same: sitting and people watching and dancing. We waited for the bride and groom to make their third appearance and outfit change of the night and stayed and clapped and cheered as they smiled and waved. We surrendered to our sleepiness and left the part in full swing. We got home around 4:30 am and went to bed, dreading class the next morning.

The third dress
          The wedding was so amazing to experience. It was so different than American weddings and it seemed to me more of a fashion show than a ceremony for the most part. Not once did I see any sort of ring or vow exchange or anything of that sort. Everyone was so enthusiastic and never tired. I was astounded at all the beautiful Kaftans that the women were wearing. I loved the food and people and clothes and culture of the wedding and feel so lucky that I was able to experience this!


  1. Hi,

    I have never been to a moroccan wedding but have heard about them from my husband (hes moroccan). Neither one of us wanted an elaborate wedding so we kept ours simple and more islamic. Moroccan weddings are usually very elaborate and like you mentioned there is always chicken and some sort of beef served along with all the soda you can drink. The nikkah, which is an agreement between both the man and the woman aka vows is done at a masjid, before the ceremony. It looks like you had an enjoyable evening!

  2. Rene is right, the nikkah is performed before, at the Mosque...

    Yes, Moroccan people are full of energy! I don't like all that glamour at a wedding though... I prefer simple stuff. But I would definitely enjoy a Moroccan wedding and any Arabic wedding!

    I am totally in love with Kaftans since ages! :D Lucky you that you got to wear one! You look great in it and your friend, too!

    Btw, if you have the chance, visit Ouarzazate, too and go and see the ruins! ;)


  3. Louisa - I'm so glad you got to experience a Moroccan wedding! Some things you described are very similar to Saudi weddings, but many things are very different too. I've never been able to take photos at a Saudi wedding because they are segregated and the women are not covered, so cameras are forbidden. I'm looking forward to seeing more photos when you get back!