Heritage and global guest list

Wedding team

Palais Selman

Location: Marrakech, Morocco

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traditional Moroccan wedding

Day 1: Hammam Day and Henna Party

Theme: Voyage en Orient

In traditional Moroccan weddings, the first day is typically reserved for the female guests of the bride and groom. Bouchra hosted female family members for a hammam (bath/spa) at the hotel’s spa. The hammam ritual entails scrubbing, massaging, waxing and perfumery prep for the bride and family members.

In the evening, they had their own version of ‘walking-down-the-aisle’ – while it is a quintessential part of traditional Western nuptials is not so common at Middle Eastern and North African weddings – they decided to have a civil ceremony conducted in both Arabic and English for family and  guests. Bouchra’s best friend and business partner, Sophie Kahn, officiated the ceremony in front of 250 guests and recited a short story about how the couple met each other, and Omar’s grandfather gave a short speech in both English and Arabic.

After the ceremony ended, the Henna party started. Henna is another Moroccan tradition which involved Bouchra getting temporary Henna tattoos done on her hands and feet. Her female friends and guests also got some as well. These tattoos are done as a sign of fertility and beauty and to bring the bride good luck in her married life. There was traditional Andalusi live music, belly dance performance, and guests danced the night away.

traditional Moroccan wedding

Day 2: Wedding Gala Night

Theme: 1001 Nights

The second evening was the wedding gala night. The attire was Black-Tie for men and evening dresses or traditional Moroccan dresses/kaftans for the women. The eve-ning started off with a cocktail hour for the guests on the terraces of Palais Selman.

The couples’ entrance to the wedding remained a surprise for guests – both in timing and the schedule of events. The brides’ entrance is a crucial part of the Moroccan ceremony. Bouchra was placed in an amaria which is an elegant roofed platform that’s carried by four gentlemen. These gentlemen were accompanied by the negafa which is the troupe of women who chant and sing as the bride enters – the Moroccan version of bridesmaids. Omar led the walk with the amaria bearers during the elaborate entrance. It’s all about the women in this part.

Once the initial entrance was over, Bouchra changed to her second kaftan outfit and came back to have dinner with family at a table designated for family members from both sides. After dinner everyone danced and then quietly exited the wedding for another outfit change.

traditional Moroccan wedding

The third outfit change for Bouchra entailed another elaborate hand-made kaftan for the Labssa Fassia. The Fassia is a beautiful ornament that Bouchra wore on her head. It is intentionally heavy to signify the weight of the household carried by Bouchra on her shoulders. Omar also changed his dinner jacket and tuxedo to a traditional jabador and white djellaba. Both were carried in two midas – round, ornamented seats – and lifted up by the same amaria bearers, while traditional Moroccan music played in the background. Fassia is a tradition that originated from Fes, another imperial city in Morocco.

After the Fassia, Bouchra had a final outfit change. Omar changed back to his dinner jacket and tuxedo and Bouchra wore the normal occidental white wedding dress for the rest of the night. They cut the cake and had their first dance (John Legend All of Me) while a DJ played a variety of different music genres until late in the night. The main wedding evening was wrapped up with a band which played Gnawa, a North African repertoire of ancient African spiritual religious songs and rhythms. Its well-preserved heritage combines ritual poetry with traditional music and dancing.

traditional Moroccan wedding

The night ended with an afterparty at the Presidential Villa in the hotel and Amine K, a famous Moroccan DJ who is on the global house circuit entertained the guests until the wee hours of the morning. Amine has DJ’ed at Robot Heart’s camp at Burning Man this year and played house, progressive and techno tracks.

traditional Moroccan wedding

Day 3: Brunch and Pool Party

The third day was more ‘conventional’. Guests gathered for an afternoon brunch at the restaurant in Selman and enjoyed a horse show which featured beautiful Arabian horses. After lunch they convened at the pool for a light party and a chance to bid farewell to the bride and the groom and their families.

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Images: Supplied