Getting married in Morocco? Here is what to expect at a Moroccan wedding from a Photographers's perspective.
We’ve photographed enough Moroccan weddings to know what to expect, but for many of our couples at least one of them is experiencing their first Moroccan wedding – and it’s their wedding day! If you’re getting married in Morocco as a foreigner, we want to help you to know what to expect.
We’ve written this with a non-Moroccan bride in mind, but if you’re a non-Moroccan groom you’ll also find this helpful! To learn more about what a Moroccan wedding is like, we’d first suggest reading our “What’s a Moroccan Wedding Like?” blog post.
*Please note, everyone is wired differently and every wedding is different and unique. We will make some general statements but they may not apply to you and your wedding.
We were supposed to start an hour ago?!
Love it or hate it, time is more relaxed in Morocco. If you come from a culture that is more time oriented, take a deep breath and as you exhale, release expectations that you may have for things starting at a specific time.
Ok, now here are a few things that you can do:
- Create a timeline for your wedding day and give lots of margin. If you have anything that is super time specific, like sunset photos, give LOTS of time for these to happen.
- Hire a wedding planner. Hiring a wedding planner is great for a lot of reasons, but when it comes to keeping to a schedule they make a huge difference. They know which vendors to work with, what time to tell vendors to arrive, and they can keep everything moving so you don’t have to.
- If you’re doing all of your own planning, you may want to give your vendors an earlier arrival time than the time you actually need them. We’ve found this to be particularly helpful with makeup artists and negafas. The wedding can’t begin until the bride enters, and the bride can’t make her entrance until her hair and makeup is done and the negafas have finished preparing. What’s a negafa? We’ll get to that further down.
- Many of our couple give guests an earlier starting time than the time they actually plan to start. Often, guests won’t begin arriving until after the last call to prayer.
- If things are running late, which they probably will at some point, it’s ok and it’s normal. Guests are very well taken care of throughout a Moroccan wedding with lots of beverages and snacks. Your Moroccan guests will be very understanding and for your non-Moroccan guests, just prepare their expectations ahead of time.
Who is dressing you?
Negafa’s are an important part of a Moroccan wedding. Basically the negafa and her attendants dress the bride and organize the traditional aspects of the Moroccan wedding. They are with the bride for the whole wedding. If you have some hair out place or the layers of your caftan (we’ll get to caftans later) aren’t following right, they’re there to fix those things. They will keep you looking great the whole night!
Unless you are buying your own dresses for the wedding, you will rent from the Negafa and she will also lend you all of the beautiful jewelry and accessories that you will wear. They will coordinate your entrances and exits, there will actually be a sort of singing that they will do at these times.
Here is the thing about Negafas, sometimes they can be a bit bossy. There. It just needed to be said. Just remember, that’s part of their job. They want you to look amazing and they want the wedding to go smoothly.
We can recommend some Negafas that are super great to work with and a bit more flexible and relaxed than others.
If you don’t speak French or Darija, we recommend having a friend or relative who does, who can stay with you and help translate as they get you ready. We have helped with translation from time to time too when needed.
Don’t say “yes” to the seven dresses
You are going to fall in love with Moroccan dresses (called Caftans or Takchitas depending on the style). You will want to wear alllll of them. Someone may try to convince you to wear up to seven dresses during your wedding.
Do. Not. Say. Yes. To. Seven. Dresses.
From our experience and from the experiences of Moroccan friends, the more dresses you wear the more time you will spend back in your room being dressed and the less time you will have to enjoy your wedding. And there is no such thing as a quick dress change.
Generally, each time you make an entrance in a new dress you will be paraded around a bit. This can be really fun in the beginning, but almost every bride (Moroccan or non-Moroccan) we’ve spoken with gets a bit exhausted and overwhelmed somewhere around dress #4 or #5.
Ideally, we’d suggest three Moroccan dresses and then your white wedding gown. Many brides wear a western style white wedding dress for their final dress and when they do their cake cutting and first dance.
Photos on the couch?
Traditionally, there will be an elaborate couch – known as sdadr. When not dancing, eating, or making dress changes, you and your husband will sit there. Friends and family will come up and get photos with you. What we love about this tradition is you will get a photo with just about every guest at your wedding – which is pretty cool and a great way to remember who celebrated with you! Some guests may come up for photos with each new dress, others won’t. But yes, you will do a lot of smiling.
As photographers, we try to keep this process as smooth and efficient as possible. If you need a break from photos for a bit, tell your photographer and Negafa. Remember, the more dresses you choose to wear, the more photos you will have on the couch.
Also, your Negafa may try to pose you at different points as well. You may not be a fan of the poses. Let them do their thing. When we photograph weddings, if the Negafa poses the bride we will take those photos but then try to direct the bride and groom into positions that feel natural and comfortable for them. Again, the Negafa is just trying to do her job.
It’s your day...sort of
It is your wedding day, but it’s also a tremendously important day for your husband’s family. Often they are the ones who are doing much of the planning for the wedding and they may have a number of important expectations. Decide ahead of time what are the most important things for you.
You want to spend lots of time dancing with friends at your wedding – try to pick a DJ / band that will play the kind of music you and your husband love, and choose to wear only a few dresses.
You want a specific photography style. You choose and hire the photographer and work together to make sure that if there are certain shots that are important for the family to have, that those are captured.
If you can, talk through together exactly what will be involved. If there are western elements that you want to incorporate into your wedding which many of our couples have done beautifully, share what those are and why they are so important to you.