In Morocco, the wedding ceremony gives rise to big festivals, which can last from three days to a week and are more or less costly depending on the means of the family, but still very visual, with beautiful clothes and jewellery. Indeed, Moroccan women always attend traditional weddings dressed in caftan, kind of long gown in silk, satin, chiffon, taffeta or other rich fabric, covered with an open jacket sometimes on the bottom of the dress, embroidered, sometimes Glitter, the whole being held by a large belt at the waist.
It’s a beautiful spectacle for the eyes.
While there are of course regional specificities, we find roughly the same type of rituals to be performed.
The marriage is first concluded from the legal point of view by a Adoulaire act, a contract established by the “Adouls”, which correspond to notaries, in the presence of witnesses. It can be signed the day before the wedding or a few days before.
The day before the wedding, after the bride, in the company of women of her family, has purified herself to the hammam, takes place the ceremony of henna. A specialist, the “Hannaya”, draws symbolic motifs on the hands and feet of the bride, in order to bring her happiness and prosperity in her future life. The other women involved can also ask to be traced these beautiful arabesques, they are supposed to bring luck.
Nowadays, in the city, we tend more and more to associate the fiancé and his family to this feast, usually at the time of dinner.
Before marriage, the fiancé is obliged to offer gifts to his bride: some are symbolic, like sugar, which represents a happy life, milk, purity or even dates, the water of orange blossoms and henna. They are also part of the engagement ring and the alliance. The others vary depending on the means. We can find fabric coupons, caftans, shoes, handbags, perfume. These gifts are arranged in very large silver-coloured trays, covered with a conical lid, the “TEFORS”.
At the wedding we attended with Mary, we were invited with our husbands, before the ceremony, at the groom’s home, where, after drinking the welcome milk, we were installed in the women’s room. We were shown these famous gifts on the TEFORS, among which were beautiful white, blue, red, green caftans that the young bride wore during the ceremony.
The guests then go to the bride’s home. Men are responsible for wearing the gift trays while dancing, accompanied by an orchestra that animates the entire neighbourhood. It becomes really impossible for the neighborhood to ignore the event that is brewing!
The feast itself takes place in a hotel, a “riad” (traditional Moroccan house, organized around a large indoor patio), a festive room, in a tent near the bride’s home or in the garden of the parents of one or the other of the young Husband. At the bottom of the room is a fairly high platform, on which are arranged two imposing seats where the bride and groom sit, who will be able to be observed of all.
On one side of the room, the musicians play and sing, harassing task, since many marriages end around 5am! Once the guests are seated at their table, the orchestra attacks the music of Andalusia or “Châabi” according to the choice of the bride and groom.
The young bride arrives in the audience dressed in a white caftan with assorted jewellery. She sits in a chair with carriers, the “Amariya”, like her husband.
They go around the room, accompanied by the music and, arriving near the stage, they come down from the Amariya to sit, while the diners flock around them in order to be photographed in their company.
The bride is surrounded by the “Neggafates”, mistresses of the ceremony and guarantors of the scrupulous observance of the nuptial rites. They can be 4 to 5, under the direction of one of them.
They take care of the bride by dressing her, the parent of the jewellery they lend her, ensure that the folds of the caftans always fall well for the photos, direct her in her gestures, minute the ceremony and change of clothes. They may, however, sometimes have a little too much guidance as we have seen with Mary!
The bride comes out periodically to change. The second caftan is often green, always with necklaces, tiaras, earrings and assorted bracelets.
The parade can continue up to seven different outfits in the evening.
In the meantime, the guests are restoring. Depending on the location, the bride and groom opted for a dinner meal or cocktail. You don’t drink alcohol, with respect for the Muslim religion. Soft drinks (we are in a Muslim country) and delicious fresh fruit juices (I remember especially succulent strawberry and grape juices) are served. If it is a meal, it usually includes a pastilla (very fine brick leaves filled with a fricassee of pigeons or chicken, almonds, sugar and cinnamon, delicious dish that I encourage you to test if you have a good Moroccan restaurant to Close to Home!!!), a tagine (stew of meat and vegetables served in an earthly dish in the characteristic form) and fruit for dessert.
In some weddings, we eat in a traditional way, with the fingers, which is not obvious for neophytes who try by all means not to get dirty and taste in style!!!
The Mint tea finishes the meal, accompanied by exquisite Moroccan pastries such as, among others, the horns of gazelle.
The guests dance from time to time to the rhythm of the music, talk to each other and observe each other. The little children who participate in the feast are surprisingly well on the music, giving the clear impression to the poor foreigners that we are to look ridiculous to try to dance as well as them!
The evening usually ends around 5am, at sunrise and you have to go home and avoid the drivers and the many accidents of the night!