The very first evening with my host family, they excitedly told me that they had a “marriage” in the family, and I would get to attend. I happily accepted, believing that I would have a few weeks to practice my dariija, buy new shoes, and mentally prepare myself. Little did I know that the wedding would take place the very first weekend I was here, when I was still jetlagged and completely lost in my speaking skills. That Saturday, I woke up at 7am and attended class until 5 pm, and then attempted to take the bus (which never came) home with my host brother. As soon as I entered the apartment at 8pm, I was pulled into room with my host mom and host aunt, and put into a caftan, a formal Moroccan dress. I was completely overwhelmed, as I realized that my host mom and aunt had been prepping for the wedding the last several hours, while I had not even showered in several days. When my host mom realized that I did not have formal heels in my closet, and was instead going to wear plain sandals, she immediately decided that that would not do, and went to her room and started throwing every kind of formal shoe she had in my direction. After being outfitted in my aunt’s five inch, too large heels, we left the apartment at 9pm.
I was not prepared for the marathon ahead. We arrived at the venue at 9:30, and sat down with family members of my host family, and were served small cakes and macaroons. Since it was already almost 10, I figured that this was the version of the wedding cake, and that dinner would not be served. To my surprise, an elaborate, several course meal was served at 2 am. The groom’s family did not even show up to the venue until 1 am, and the bride and groom finally came in at 1:30. As I fell asleep over my plate, I was told that this timetable was completely normal.
I was surprised to find out that this would not actually be the ceremony, but only the reception. Apparently the official ceremony happened at 6pm, and was reserved for small, close family. The reception is for the extended family and neighbors, of which there were many.
We ate until about 4 am, throughout which the bride changed into four different outfits, there were several elaborate processions, and dancing to the live band. I was completely overwhelmed by how elaborate the entire event was. We ate about 6 or 7 courses, ending with veal and two different types of cakes. I almost fell asleep in my chair several times, jealously watching three year olds and 93 year olds outlast me and dance for several hours at a time.
We finally left at 6:30 am, as they were bringing out breakfast. After getting home at 7, I slept until 3pm. However, I was the only one. We brought back several relatives to our house after the wedding, and my mom and aunt entertained them for several hours, never actually sleeping themselves. When I woke up, several uncles and cousins from the wedding were still in our saloon.
Overall, a Moroccan wedding was exciting, overwhelming, and absolutely beautiful. I am so happy that I was able to experience one, and would love to go to another.