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All you need to know about traditional Moroccan weddings

Written on : 13 March 2020
By : Léa Frémiot
All you need to know about traditional Moroccan weddings

Morocco, a country with a rich culture, exceptional landscapes and very welcoming people, still has very strong traditions, although these are fading over the years towards a more Western way of life. Today we have gathered all the information so that after reading this article you will be able to know more about the traditional Moroccan marriage. Grandiose, this oriental event which is a real eye-opener is admired by many people and makes Morocco a benchmark for wedding celebrations.
 

All you need to know about traditional Moroccan weddings

For a long time arranged by families, the traditions around marriage remain very important in Morocco and consist of many steps that give rise to ceremonies over 3 to 5 days before the wedding. 
 
The first step consists of the groom offering gifts to his sweetheart during a period called Khobta. One of the biggest stages, the meeting of the mutual parents. According to tradition, it is the parents of the groom-to-be who will meet the parents of the young woman in order to ask for her hand in marriage for their son. However, it can also be the groom himself who travels to meet his future in-laws to make his request in person. After the agreement is reached, the families will then begin many discussions about the organization of the marriage. These discussions will include the dowry, which is the amount of money that the groom's family must pay to the bride's family and the amount that the wife's family will pay to set up the couple's household, which must be roughly equivalent to the dowry. The families then decide on the date of the marriage and the various ceremonies that will precede it, as well as the location.
 
Then comes the announcement of the marriage. This is a very important moment because Moroccan weddings involve a large number of guests. Among families, friends, relatives, acquaintances or neighbours it is not uncommon to reach more than 500 guests. 
 

All you need to know about traditional Moroccan weddings

The first ceremony in the marriage process is the engagement ceremony called Al Kaghet or Helel which usually takes place at the bride-to-be's family home and it is at this time that the marriage agreement will be signed, surrounded by relatives only. A big meal and a party will follow the signing of the agreement by both parties.
 
Once the wedding preparations have begun, the families will join together to make the major decisions for this event and share the various tasks, which are quite extensive given the size of the wedding that is being prepared. The place of the wedding is then chosen, but also the meal and the decoration, which is very important. Indeed, the shades of colour of the decoration must be matched to the bride's different outfits for perfect harmony.
The choice of the bride's 7 outfits will also be one of the main steps of the organization. For this, the bride-to-be will be assisted by a woman close to her called neggafa who will support her in all her clothing choices, as well as to find her shoes, accessories and determine her hairstyle. Among the 7 outfits of the bride, the first is a white dress, then she must wear at least one traditional outfit of her family and the last outfit will be a long white dress with a western style. 
 
A few days before the wedding comes the stage of the hammam, a staple in Morocco. Indeed the tradition requires that the bride-to-be goes there accompanied by the women close to her, where she will take a milk bath that symbolizes purification. The bride-to-be will then have to get her hands and feet tattooed with henna, whose designs represent protection. She will be all dressed in green to represent the original colour of the henna. The nekacha who is the tattooist then draws on the bride to the sound of traditional songs and dances of family and friends present. This stage represents a kind of bachelorette party. We usually find sugar and eggs in the room, brought by the guests as a sign of luck and fertility of the couple. The evening following the henna ceremony is called the hdiyya and always takes place with family and friends whose bride-to-be receives sugar and egg dishes as gifts. 
 
The long-awaited wedding day starts late in the evening around 11 pm but the guests are present from 8:30 pm where they enjoy sweets and mint tea while waiting for the bride to finish preparing. The bride and groom will be placed in the centre of the room on thrones and surrounded by their guests. Dinner is a real feast and consists of various typical dishes of Moroccan gastronomy such as tajines or couscous. The wedding evening will end around 7 am. 
 
Finally, the last ceremony of this union is the post-wedding where the bride and groom will go around their family and friends to thank them.