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Moroccan Wedding: Traditions and Rituals

Every culture symbolizes the marriage of a couple with a unique wedding ceremony. Traditions and rituals differ from one country to another, but in general, most weddings involve social gatherings, gift-giving, traditional dresses, local food, and music. Morocco is no exception.

A Moroccan couple starts the journey by getting the necessary certificates and documents to be officially married according to the Marriage Act. All the papers are presented to the notary, "Adoul", on the marriage day in the presence of the "Wali", who is the guardian of the bride. The "Wali" is usually the bride's father. If the father has passed away, the "Wali" will be either the bride's older brother or uncle. Two witnesses are also required. After the paperwork is signed, the couple needs to host a wedding ceremony to inform all of their acquaintances that they are legally a wife and husband. Moroccan traditions of a wedding used to last for seven days and each day had a specific tradition. Recently, weddings do not take more than three days. You can find the rituals of each day below.

Hammam Day

This is the first day of the celebration where the bride and her female relatives, neighbors, and friends go together to the Hammam (public steam bath). The bride wears bright colored clothes and usually some white, which represents purity.

The public Hamman is rented privately for the attendees, if affordable. Otherwise, the bridal party will just pay the entrance fees and choose one of the empty corners of the Hamman.

The bride does nothing while the other females serve her like she is a queen. They collect warm water, wash her hair with "Ghassoul" (a special clay mixed with herbs), scrub, massage, and perfume her body with lotions. At the end rose petals are soaked in the water to scent her body. All during these processes the women sing and create a wonderful atmosphere for the bride.

Henna Party

The second day for the Henna ceremony is no less important than the previous one It is mainly a female gathering consisting of the same female relatives, neighbors, and friends, who attended Hamman day.

The bride wears a beautifully designed green Kaftan (traditional Moroccan dress) and a Henna artist is hired to design the Henna patterns for the bride's hands and feet. The Henna designer creates a fascinating and traditional style for the bride. It is not just a traditional tattoo that will fade away in a few days. but it is very symbolic to many Moroccans. The Henna design is considered to be a sign of fertility, beauty, protection from the evil eye, a divine blessing "Baraka" and a celebration.

The attendees around the bride dance and chant. They too will be tattooed with Henna once the bride is done. This is considered "Al Fal" for all the single females to find their life partners also. 

The groom and his male relatives and friends sometimes gather for their Henna party as well. The groom usually gets a big dot of Henna on both hand palms, The single men will get Henna if they wish to get married. Afterward, all men gather to share a meal, recite the Quran and celebrate this special moment together.  

Wedding Party

Families of all social levels adhere to the same wedding traditions of Morocco. They spend all their time preparing for it. As the Moroccan saying goes: "A night wedding is arranged in a year".

Moroccan traditional wedding begins with the bride entering the wedding hall. She sits in a "Amaria", which is an elegant roofed platform in either a gold or silver color. The "Amaria" is carried on the shoulders of selected wedding participants. When the Moroccan bride is raised on the shoulders, it means that the bride is above everyone's heads, honored, given high value, and is the queen of the ceremony. Music plays with the rhythms of special songs to welcome the entry of the bride. After that, the bride gets out of the "Amaria" and sits next to the groom on a beautifully decorated couch. The guests then come to take pictures of the bride and groom.

Researchers differ in defining how "Amaria" was introduced to Morocco. Some say that the Jews brought it from Andalusia to Fez. Others consider it an Amazigh tradition that dates back before Islam arrived in Morocco. However, it is agreed that carrying the bride on the shoulders and circumambulating her around the guests is a unique ritual that characterizes weddings in Morocco. 

The "Neggafa" is the bride's maid, who is hired along with other assistants to take care of the dress, makeup, hair styling, and many other bridal necessities during the ceremony. The wedding is incomplete without them as they do their best behind the scene to make sure that the bride looks beautiful with all the different colorful dresses during her special night.

Moroccan brides wear more than six traditional dresses with different designs, colors, and ornaments. Sometimes the bride will choose to wear a dress that represents the region from which she comes. For instance, the bride may wear Fassi, Northern, Amazigh or Saharan dress. Each time the bride and groom enter the wedding hall, the ululation and prayer arise with Peace Be Upon the Prophet. The bride will be surrounded by "Neggafa" and her assistants, who also wear traditional dresses.

On his wedding night, the groom is called majesty "Moulay Sultan". He wears two traditional outfits: "Jellaba" or "Jabadur" and a formal suit. There are usually two Midas, one for the bride and the other for the groom (which is not roofed like the "Amaria), and both are carried into the wedding hall at the same time.

The final part of the Moroccan marriage is sharing the wedding cake with all the guests. For this, the bride wears a normal occidental white wedding dress or a white Takeshita, while the groom wears his formal suit. The bride and groom take their last dance, eat the cake and depart for the marriage journey.



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