A couple weeks ago, our host family from Taounate invited us to attend the wedding of our oldest host brother. We were excited that they invited us, but also a little nervous; like l-3id, Moroccan weddings are much-discussed among PCVs here as a kind of volunteer rite of passage. Still, we were glad to have the opportunity to see our host family again and to experience such a big cultural event!
The pre-wedding festivities included multiple meals with our host family (which we tried to refuse to save our host mom some work, since everything that happened this weekend took place at her house, but she was having none of it) and a henna party the night before. Along with a bunch of other guests, we ate a delicious dinner followed by some dancing while the poor bride had to sit and watch us all while she waited for the henna to dry on her hands.
The next day (after enjoying breakfast and lunch with the family) we showed up for the wedding at 8. We all went out to the street to watch her be carried inside on a litter, accompanied by the traditional group of drummers. The entire town seemed to come out to dance to the music and see the show. Afterwards, we headed upstairs for dinner where we had three huge courses of food – first big platters with 3 or 4 whole chickens, then another platter full of beef, and finally gigantic trays of fruit for dessert – each served Moroccan style, 1 plate per table with bread for utensils. After everyone was completely stuffed the dancing started. Moroccan women looooove to dance, and the men of our host family do too, which means we got pulled on to the dance floor often to make fools out of ourselves trying the Moroccan dance moves. There’s lots of shimmying that goes on… I have no idea how they do it. It’s a blast to watch though!
For the rest of night (another 7 hours!!) we danced on the roof and in the streets and enjoyed more food courses – platters of cookies, a slice of cake for all, and a bowl of traditional soup. The party lasted until 5 in the morning – a Moroccan wedding isn’t over until the couple has completed their 5-7 outfit changes and the subsequent photo and dance sessions. We were surprised to see that the wedding seemed to be more fun for the guests than for the couple, since the bride and groom spent so much time changing outfits and sitting for photographs that they rarely got a chance to join the party. Throughout the night they were presented in traditional wedding dresses from a bunch of different regions in Morocco, had their pictures taken, and sometimes did a little extra (there was a second go in the litters, and at one point we ended up back outside again for the groom’s henna ceremony and, of course, more dancing).
After the last outfit change, basically the entire room got up gratefully to go home and sleep – us included. It was great to see our host family and celebrate with them, but 9 hours at a wedding (especially while speaking a foreign language) is exhausting no matter who you’re with. But now we can say we’ve made it all the way through a Moroccan wedding!
– Cori and Matt
p.s. I know you’d all love to see some of the bride’s outfits, but without her permission I don’t feel comfortable posting those pictures. If you do an image search for “Moroccan Wedding Kaftans” you’ll get an idea of what her dresses look like. They’re beautiful!