Morocco is very rich in traditions. Moroccan wedding is really beautiful. It can last up to seven days. Before the actual wedding there are several pre-wedding ceremonies. According to tradition the groom's parents choose the bride. In cities it is not so anymore. Young people choose their spouse on their own
One of pre-wedding ceremonies is sending presents to the bride. Depending on the wealth of family such presents may include golden jewellery, clothes and perfumes. The whole courtship process can last from six months up to two years.
The second of pre-wedding ceremonies is so called "furnishing" party. It is organized five days before the wedding. It is mainly women's party. It includes delivery and decoration of the bride's future home. Different household objects are delivered – handmade blankets, mattresses, bedding, carpets and Moroccan bed. If the groom's family is wealthy enough they are paying for all the objects.
There is more. The third traditional pre-wedding ceremony includes "milk bath" performed by the bride. This bath should somehow purify her. Several women called "negaffa" or "negassa" assist her in whole procedure. These assistants, who are usually older married women, also help her to dress in a beautiful white wedding kaftan. Kaftan is worn in many countries of the Islamic world. In Morocco it is only worn by women.
Moroccan brides can also wear a takchita (takshita, tackshita). It has two parts – a dress as a first layer and the second layer or over-dress that often buttons up the front using the traditional sfifa and akaad closures.
Bride wears lot of jewellery. Her eyes are decorated with kohl. Kohl (from kuhl in Arabic) is a mixture of soot and other substances. It used by women of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Men sometimes use kohl too. Kohl is used to darken the eyelids and as mascara for the eyelashes.
On the night before the wedding women of the family and their female cousins organize Henna or Beberiska Party. Henna is kind of traditional tattoo art.
Paste used in this kind of tattooing is made from the Henna plant (Lawsonia inermis). The plant creates red-orange dye substance called lawsone (hennotannic acid). Lawsone easily bonds with protein. That is why it is used to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather, silk and wool. The paste is applied on skin through the hollow tip of a syringe. Henna tattoo can stay on skin for some 12 hours.
Henna artist paints bride's hands and feet with henna. Often she makes henna on other participants in the party too.
Henna made on the bride includes beautiful floral and geometrical designs. These designs are suppose to bring good luck and fertility. The name of the groom is often hidden in henna.
Everyone is happy enjoying tea, cookies and traditional Moroccan music. The party also includes sharing the "secrets" of marriage life by older married women with the bride-to-be. The bride does not have to do any house works until her henna fades. Nowadays some women do not wear henna tattoo at their weddings.
On the wedding day lot of delicious food is prepared. Organizers always prepare huge amounts of food for situations when some unexpected guests appear.
In the past there were two parties – groom's one and bride's one. At some point of the evening, a group involving the groom, his family and friends arrived at bride's party. Everything was done with lot of drumming and singing.
After their arrival the bride, sitting on a special circular cushion or table, and groom, on the shoulders of his friends, were carried to the bridal chamber. There they would spend their first wedding night.
The next day participants in the party would check if there are traces of blood on sheets. It would confirm that the bride was a virgin when getting married.
Traditional Moroccan wedding also included the ceremony during which the bride circled her new home three times before actually entering it.
Nowadays some of traditions mentioned in this article like henna tattoos and presenting the proof of bride's virginity in public are becoming less common.