If going through the process of doing all the paperwork isn’t crazy enough – I had to also plan a wedding without a wedding date.
SO when I went home in December – I decided to pre plan for Omar and I’s wedding in Morocco with the help of Pinterest for ideas and what little money I had – which basically was $50.
I know many people think that Peace Corps Volunteers aren’t on a tight budget – but I get paid around $200 a month and I am always just scraping by at the end of the month given that my rent is 1000 dh = $125 give or take with the current exchange rate.
I had for years secretly read bridal magazines and read different blog posts and wedding websites – hoping secretly I would be getting married soon and could have the wedding of my dreams out of one of those magazine layouts.
So I had to really sit down and think hard about – what was important about my wedding / reception to me at the end of the day.
In the end I also purchased a book – “A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration” by Meg Keene. I ended up with the help of the book making a list that covered the top things that were important to me about my wedding.
1. That my husband to be was there and I get to connect my life with him.
2. That my mother and other family were able to attend even if it was via the internet.
3. That I got to wear a beautiful white wedding dress with a veil.
4. I followed the old tradition – something old, something new, something borrows and something blue.
5. I had people I really like and love with me from amongst the PCV’s I serve with and Omar’s family- who could attend come to the wedding.
6. We had a great party and enjoyed ourselves – NO STRESS
7. Great food & Music
8. The party ended at a reasonable time meaning before 1 am.
So I while I was home I purchased –
My bridal gown – which I have to say – David’s Bridal service in store SUCKS in the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego, CA. I went there as I had found the dress I really loved online at David’s Bridal but needed to make sure I ordered the right size. I thought it was also a great tradition and mile stone to share with my mother and my aunt – her sister while I was home as I knew they weren’t going to be able to attend my wedding in Morocco. I wore a long sleeve white shirt underneath the dress to “hijabify” it.
My aunt paid for the gown, a beautiful finger tip length veil – $189 and a dark purple sash that matched my husbands lavender plaid CK dress shirt.
I also purchased balloons in white, gold and red heart shapes for decoration and gold, red and white tissue paper to make pom poms from which I packed and brought back with me that cost around $100.
My mom purchased two dress shirts and a tie – one blue and one purple plaid at Costco for $50. The purple is what Omar wore at our wedding to match my purple sash.
So some of these things you maybe thinking – they seem obvious – well in Morocco they aren’t always a given.
Traditionally in Morocco a wedding usually lasts at least 2 – 5 days & from 2 – 3pm to 5am in the morning every single day.
The first day is the day of Henna. The bride along with her girl friends go to the Hammam and they relax – scrub her with an inch of her life and give her advice on her married life and what to expect on the wedding night etc.
In my case – because both Omar (my husband) and I decided to do a small wedding at his family home – the women were all busy cooking and cleaning – so I went to the Hammam with my BFF from Omar’s family his cousin Khadijah.
She didn’t go into the actual Hammam area – instead waited in the changing area as she was sick and we paid one of the women who work at the Hammam to scrub me like a freaking carrot.
If you have never been to a Hammam the usual way it goes is you take off all your clothes except the panties or underwear and then go into the actual washing area. You bring a water bottle, your special scrub glove and a plastic mat to sit on along with the usual shampoo and soap etc.
I always feel very self conscious for the first few minutes and then I get over it and start chatting with my new friend. Because I was a bride – all of my clothing and underwear according to tradition should have been white – but no one in Omar’s family told me this was the case – that email never made it to my inbox- so I went to the Hammam with all black underwear.
After being scrubbed almost three to four shades paler than I usually am and having a ton of dead skin removed – I emerged from the Hammam to return to the house and spend the day watching TV and waiting for Khadijah to have a spare moment to do my henna.
Finally that moment came at midnight. Usually the Henna is a big party with a bunch of your friends, family and guests who watch as you get henna and then the woman who is doing henna does henna on them but not near as elaborate as the brides. I was bushed from the Hammam and I didn’t want the traditional bridal henna – which involves both the feet and hands.
I went to sleep with my hands wrapped in paper towels and stuffed in socks to prevent the henna from being disturbed while I slept. I woke up at 7:30 am to the sound of my soon to be mother in law in the kitchen making tea in preparation for the breakfast. By 10:30 am I was at the hair dresser, I was given a facial, had my face waxed and then my hair was blown out and curled before finally makeup was applied.
I decided to bring my own makeup as its more hygienic and its my color! Its the norm in many countries to “lighten” the bride with either skin whitening cream
before the wedding or using a lighter make up to make the brides skin as white as possible.
Morocco isn’t a place where a woman wears the amount of makeup I had put on me on the street without attracting serious attention – so my solution was to put on niqab and a khimar to return to Omar’s family house – with a quick stop at my house for some last minute items. To get to my house I arranged my head scarf like a niqab – which got strange looks from the locals but – who cares as I didn’t think ahead – best solution till I dressed as I did in the photo below.
While I was at the hair dressers I realized I didn’t have a head scarf to wear with two of my outfits – this resulted in me calling Omar to ask him to go hijab shopping which was a failure – so I decided no hijab after talking with Omar and that no photos without hijab would be published online as the people attending this day of the wedding were all female relatives except for immediate family.
Omar and the guys all hung out at a cafe and walked around together with Omar showing them Taza.
Just to clarify our wedding was two days – one day for women and one for men. So then I finally changed into my first of three outfits.
I had the green and gold caftan first – I went with the green because its tradition for the Henna party but I figured I could just wear it for the wedding instead.
I then changed into my tekshayta which is silver and turquoise.
I then changed into my white wedding gown – I think I looked pretty smashing if I do say so myself 🙂 The A Line of the dress make me feel and look like a princess.
I plan on wearing the gown again at our reception when we go back to the US. By 11 PM both I and my handsome groom were barely keeping our eyes open and our guests were in the same boat. So I grabbed my bag and my groom and we walked back to my apartment which is now “our” apartment.
We both crashed out and then made a point of sleeping in the next day.
We are still “newly weds” and going through our adjustment to each other, what it means to be married, share space and a life with another person.
If anyone tells you marriage isn’t work that’s a lie and but its work that while it can be mundane – its done in love.
One of my favorite quotes – that a local religious speaker said about marriage is that ,”Marriage is a competition of good manners.”
InshaAllah both my husband and I will be winners in this competition of good manners. Ameen.