Sunday, July 15, 2007


Photos by Luke Thomas

Morocco is a place with very rich and active traditions and many of these can be seen at Moroccan wedding ceremonies. The traditional Moroccan wedding has quite an elaborate process that can take up to seven days due to the numerous pre-wedding ceremonies which take place before the actual wedding. The wedding festive are quite expensive. It starts with the paying of a dowry.The dowry price usually comprise of purchasing household items and furniture for the bride. If the grooms parents are very wealthy, they will pay for these items themselves. The bride also receives golden jewelry and is sent presents of cloth, clothing and perfume from her groom every feast day.

Photos by Luke Thomas

Every bride is beautiful on her wedding day, but in Morocco, she gets to be a queen, too!

Days before the matrimonial event, necessities such as a mattress and blanket are taken to the bridal chamber. There the bride is given a bath in hammam which is a sort of milk bath that is meant to purify the bride. Her negaffa (female attendants) will usually supervise the event. The negaffa - who are usually older married women, female friends and relatives - spend enormous time beautifying the bride for the ceremony. After dressing her in an elaborately decorated wedding kaftan (usually white) they proceed to decorate her with heavy jewelry and darken her eyes with kohl a thick dark eyeliner.

The group then proceeds to have a beberiska ceremony in which the hands and feet of the bride and her party are painted with henna. The bride's designs are always the most intricate and the various floral and geometric designs are meant to ward off evil spirits, bring good luck and increase fertility. The grooms name is often hidden in the henna designs. The negaffa will usually take this opportunity to discuss the 'secrets' of marriage with the young virgin. In some ceremonies the bride will then be placed behind a curtain to symbolize her change of lifestyle. In more remote areas, this ceremony would only take place the day before the wedding. Often, a bride is not expected to do any house work until her henna has faded.

Once all this preparation is complete, food is prepared in excess to cater for unexpected guests and the festivities begin.Traditionally in the past the men and woman would celebrate these festivities at separate locations.

This is the "palankeen" traditionally used to carry the bride along the neighborhood, followed by a crowd of singing and screaming people. This is the moment when the bride arrives in the party hall and the four guys start to dance with the palankeen.
Photo by Luke Thomas

At some point in the evening, the groom would leave to make his way towards the bridal party accompanied by a group of friends who sing, beat drums and dance. The bride would be 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. The bridal party would then examine their sheets for signs of blood to confirm the bride's virginity. The two would then journey to their new home and the bride would circle her home three times before becoming the keeper of her new hearth.

Photos by Luke Thomas

Although the hamman bath is still used quite often in more rural areas, it is sometimes completely overlooked in the cities and towns. And though young brides are still quite happy to don their ceremonial kaftans, these are now more often shop bought because modern machinery has caused hand made kaftans to be considered an expensive rarity. Many women who consider themselves to be more 'modern' have also rejected the intricate henna designs that usually adorn the bride.The food is now more often provided by caterers instead of family members. Most young people have begun to choose their own marriage partners and ask for 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. Often, someone is employed to paint the hands of guests with henna.

Music played at during the wedding festive range from the traditional Berber, Andalusian or Arabian, or they can be popular modern tunes played on traditional instruments. The young groom is accompanied by singing, dancing friends although usually, there are a few car hooters. Nowadays, instead of immediately consummating their marriage at this point, the bride and groom prefer consummate the marriage privately after the wedding party. They usually go to a hotel instead of the traditional marriage chamber and no one expects them to display their sheets as proof of the bride's virginity.

The festivities do not end here. Throughout the week, the newly weds will visit friends and relatives as well as show off their new home and gifts. To this day, marriage is generally thought of as being the most important decision that both the man and woman can make. Because of this, the whole affair is expensive and elaborate.

The Imilchil Moussem/Wedding Fair

Once a year the people of the various mountain tribes in the Atlas Mountains converge at a special meeting place for the Imilchil Moussem. This special meeting which takes place in September is primarily a massive souk where 30 000 or more Berbers gather to sell and trade their possessions. However, the gathering is not merely an exercise in financial expertise - it is also the place of the largest wedding fair in the country. The tradition was started when officials during the colonial area insisted that Berbers assemble once a year to register births, deaths and marriages. After Morocco claimed independence, the tourist office encouraged the continuation of the festival.

Contrary to popular belief, very few of the marriages here are prearranged. The woman arrive in ceremonial garb and they spend time flirting and getting to know the available men during the festivities and dances. Many of them already know each other. Then, near the end of the celebration, the marriage ceremonies begin and several new marriages are made simultaneously. This ceremony has, in more recent times, received a lot of tourist attention which has detracted from the ceremonies authenticity. However, the joyous occasion continues down to this day and the exact date of the festival can be obtained from the tourist board should you wish to be a part of it.



Morocco Property said...

Hello Author.
I was really interested in reading this interesting article.
Yeah, the bride is a really like a queen. These different costumes are so huge, but so wonderful. And i also liked the picture with pinked foot, it is great.
Moroccans have so many traditions, and they are really interesting. I hope one day i will visit such wedding lively.
Thanks for the pictures, good job.

laila said...

I have a question do have a Telefon number or a email adress from this people of the pictures
(from picture 1)its very importent or anithing information about this wedding?
I hope that you answer me fast. Ps:sorry for my english im from german my email adress:

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