When you think of a Moroccan wedding, you might imagine loads of colors, a vast variety of foods and endless ululations. All of which will happen, but there’s so much more to a wedding in Morocco!
I’ve spent twenty years attending all sorts of weddings around Morocco. Here is what you can expect from one of our weddings.
Nothing Will Be On Time At A Moroccan Wedding
In classical Moroccan fashion, the groom’s family will be late to the ceremony (the blame usually falls on an uncle) and the bride’s preparation will seem endless. Thus, the couple’s entrance via the aamaria (a large decorated seat on which the bride and groom will be separately carried inside the room) and the real start to the wedding festivities will be an hour or more late and you’ll be that much hungrier!
Almost all weddings start at 8pm or later. So if you’re invited to come at 5pm, plan on coming a few hours late. Even then, you’ll probably be early! Just be thankful to the orchestra for livening the place up when there’s a lull in the action or a longer wait than usual.
A Moroccan Wedding Is Basically A Fashion Show
For fashionistas, the beauty, complexity and variety of the bride’s outfits will make you understand why you’ve waited for so long. The creativity of Moroccan designers is bedazzling. You are in for a treat thanks to the different colors, textures, shapes and ornaments on the kaftans (traditional party dresses) on display from all of the guests, each of them competing to be the most beautiful.
The main attraction remains, of course, the bride’s many outfits. Depending on her and her husband’s origin in Morocco, the bride will sport anywhere from three to seven dresses, each representing something in particular. Some dresses are historical while others are from a different region, with special attention usually paid to the regions of the bride and groom’s families.
The last dress is almost always the “classic” white dress. This is worn while the newlyweds cut the cake and take a first slow dance as Mr and Mrs — and yes, this has absolutely been taken from Western tradition.
The Food At A Moroccan Wedding Is Top Notch
You probably know the reputation of Moroccan cuisine as one of the best in the world. However, you might not know that during weddings, the food is exceptionally scrumptious!
While you wait for dinner, you will be served tea and juices along with Moroccan pastries and delicacies, petit-fours and appetizers — but don’t eat too much because the best is yet to come!
At dinner time, probably around midnight (sometimes even later) there will be at least three main courses:
- A starter. Usually either an assortment of traditional salads or a chicken or fish pastilla.
- A first course. Either djaj mhamer (chicken with olives and preserved lemons) or a meat tagine.
- A second course mechoui (sheep baked with butter)
- Dessert. Either fruits, cakes, ice cream, or all three!
Consider yourself forewarned. Your belly will expand if you don’t watch out!
The Ululation At A Moroccan Wedding Is A Signal
Given how many times the couple will leave to change outfits and come back, you will hear ululations at least ten times during the party. You should start to recognize this as the signal for you to stand up and applaud the couple (and take a million pictures of their new outfit).
Once the bride and groom are officially pronounced man and wife by the addoul (the man who officiates family matters in both religious and legal aspects) in a private area of the location, the neggafat (the women who accompany the bride during the entire evening during her changes) will ululate more than before, usually around seven times, while the newlyweds make their official debut as a married couple.
At A Moroccan Wedding, You Will Be On Camera
The most annoying person at a wedding is the cameraman and/or photographer. Not only does this person take all the best spots for pictures, but he or she will command you to pose in certain ways. Not only that, but the blinding flash will make you see spots you wherever you go.
Of course, like all people with a camera, they’ll make sure to get a picture of you when you have a mouthful of food!
You Will Meet A Lot Of People At A Moroccan Wedding
The following people are always found at a Moroccan wedding:
- The person who will not stop dancing and will not stop bugging you until you join them on the dance floor.
- Kids. There are two kinds: The kind that fall asleep on mom’s lap and the kind that find reserves of energy and out-energize you well into the early morning!
- The girl who tries to one-up the bride.
- The person who’s only there for food.
- The person who documents the entire wedding and misses all the fun.
- The person who steals the mic and starts singing — and they never know how to sing!
- The people who spend all night taking selfies.
- The ladies who huddle together and gossip all night long.
- The couple’s friends that make more noise than anyone else.
The Aftermath of a Moroccan Wedding Is Even More Fun!
At the end of the night, after your feet are swollen, your belly full and your eyes full of stars, you will shuffle away with memories that will last you a lifetime. If you leave early, you’ll probably be heading home around 2am. If you leave with everyone else, a dawn arrival is more likely.
But later, when you watch the videos and see all the photos from the quiet comfort of your own home, they will bring a smile to your face as you recall that unforgettable night with all its quirks and cast of characters.
About the Author
Laïla Ouazzani is a Meknèsiya (a native of Meknès, Morocco) who loves discovering what her country has to offer. She is a born foodie. Lucky for her, there are plenty of delicious dishes to be discovered around Morocco. Besides food, she enjoys everything else that connects her to the roots of her country and shares her findings and experiences with everyone she can! Laïla is currently based in Casablanca.