I have now been in Morocco for three months. My first month consisted of trying to orient myself in the city of Rabat, grasp survival language skills, and adapt to cultural norms. My second month was overtaken by school work, travel, and creating friendships with both Moroccans and other American students. The third month was comprised of only one thing: PREPARING FOR A MOROCCAN WEDDING! Before I go on to tell you all about how amazing it was to experience my first Moroccan wedding ceremony, I must first explain how I got there in the first place.
It has become known throughout the entire AMIDEAST building that I, Shante, will greet and carry on long conversations with just about anyone. I guess you can say it is the Midwesterner in me that will not allow a single person to walk by without at least saying the customary greeting of “salam.” So it is no surprise that I quickly became friends with two people I see every day: the guards in front of the AMIDEAST building. I have come to know these two wonderful men very well throughout the semester and speak to them any time I get a chance. Aside from practicing my language skills with them, I enjoy hearing about their lives, families, and just joking around any time I enter or exit the building.
One day as I was preparing to start my Monday morning Arabic class, I saw one of the guards at the door of the building. I expected only our usual “hello” and “how are you” and asking him about his weekend and his wife and children, but was surprised to have him stop and ask my plans for the first weekend of April. His niece was getting married and he wanted to invite me to the wedding. Before this moment, I had already heard about how unique Moroccan weddings can be. They usually start around 8pm and last as late as 7 the next morning! I immediately accepted the invitation and ran upstairs to tell my program director so that she could tell me all the things I needed to do in preparation for this extravagant event.
I was told I needed a takcheta, traditional Moroccan formal dress, and extremely high heels. Moroccan weddings are a time to go to the extreme with makeup, hair, and all other beauty treatments. No one at the entire wedding spoke English, so it was both helpful for my language and extremely tiring for my brain. Once I arrived, I realized that I was going to be a part of the wedding party. I went with the bride’s entourage to the nagh3fa, the hair and makeup artists for all brides, to get ready for the long night. In the car on the way back to the wedding location, we drove less than 10 miles per hour beeping the horn and singing loudly to alert the whole neighborhood of the wedding. This wedding took place in a tent on top of the roof of the bride’s apartment. The wedding didn’t actually start until around 11pm. The bride entered with the groom and was then placed onto the a3mmeria, a throne that is carried by four men around the room to show the bride to the wedding guests.
The bride changed her takcheta about five or six times while at the wedding. She was not present most of the time because she was constantly getting new hair, makeup, and dress. All through the night, we danced to a live band singing traditional wedding songs. Before I knew it, the time was 7am and the wedding was over.
I am so thankful that I was invited to this unique event that I may not have the opportunity to experience ever again. It has shown me that I truly appreciate how rich the culture and traditions are in this beautiful country. Respecting the wishes of the bride, I have not included any photos of her or her wedding; however, I do have one of me in my takcheta!!!