On Sunday afternoon I got an email from a Moroccan friend that ended with this: “Alright, see you at the wedding tonight.”
Kind of awkward, right? Well, not really.
-I don’t know anything about a wedding tonight, but have fun!
-OK, well now you know. Do you want to come?
I’ve never been to a Moroccan wedding, but everyone has stressed that an ‘ers (عَرْسْ) it is THE event to experience. Two fellow Ambassadorial scholars, Annemarie and Jacob, have given really thorough accounts of their Moroccan wedding experiences, which you can read at Amidinns.blogspot.com and Jacobinmorocco.blogspot.com.
Seriously, read them. They both have a lot of details that I didn’t do such a good job of recording myself. In Annemarie’s account you’ll find a timeline, something which prepared me for the long night on Sunday. Jacob even got the chance to hang out with a wedding band!
There’s a lot about Moroccan weddings I’m in no way prepared to explain, and in any case we cut out early—at around 3:30AM.
What I can say, though, is how bizarre and pleasant an experience it was to be welcomed as a total stranger to someone’s wedding. There was no seating arrangement except for the one table reserved for the bride, groom, and close family. So I just joined a group of people who work for the IDMAJ association. The bride, actually, works with IDMAJ.
There are some events leading up to the night of the wedding party, including a henna night for women the day before, but I came just for the main party:
A few dinner courses, served starting around midnight. (You’ll recognize the first one as Pastila–this time with shrimp, though)
The “wine glasses” there are filled with Coke or Sprite, Tabiat alHal.
* * *
This picture was taken well into the night, after the men in the room had finally gotten up to dance.
* * *
The bride. It’s all about the bride.
First the white outfit…
Then the red outfit…
And finally the blue. So far. Like I said, we left early.
Cameras flashed everywhere, and flatscreen TVs projected images captured by the videocamera guy who roamed the party almost the whole time. Somewhere in Casablanca there’s footage of me being very awkward.
I dunno, guys. I came away less with the feeling of having “Experienced a Moroccan Wedding!!!” than of having attended a wedding, albeit with Moroccan customs, decoration, dresses, and music.
Which, incidentally, was not exclusively Moroccan. In fact, at one point I recognized a Lebanese wedding song because I’d heard it just last weekend, at my cousin’s wedding in France, to a man who’s part Lebanese.
The thing is that the French weddings I’ve been to are also kind of crazy, if crazy means staying up all night eating until you’re beyond stuffed, dancing and performing wedding traditions. One tradition de chez nous in particular struck my friends as absurd: at the end of the night, the small group of people who’ve made it that far– I did not– will take a huge pot of onion soup (a.k.a. “French Onion Soup,” har har) to the bride and groom for everyone to share. I can no more explain this than I can explain why the Moroccan bride has so many outfit changes. Parce que c’est comme ça.
*The title of this post refers to a cheer/chant that women call out at celebrations. It’s starts out with: Sala wa salaam! and goes on for a good twenty seconds, ending in you-yous all around.