Her first dress and on the throne in the reception hall
Arriving in Casablanca I looked around the airport, breathed in the smell of fresh croissants and coffee from the cafe and thought, I could get used to this.
I met Ghizlaine my sophomore year of college at Mary Washington when she was a French teacher and lived on campus. She has a captivating personality and is certainly my most well traveled friend. Before I studied abroad in Grenoble, France in the fall of 2006 Ghizlaine invited me to spend three weeks with her family in Morocco at their summer house (they live in France) and to travel the country together. (Pictures here) When she announced her engagement last summer I immediately made plans to come to Morocco for the wedding.
On Tuesday Ghizlaine had a traditional henna party where the women of both her and her husband's families came together to begin the marital festivities. It began with her siblings going out to greet Brahim's family outside the house. We carried out platters featuring all the gifts from Brahim received during their courtship and danced in the street to trumpets and drums played by men in traditional garb. Once we had danced sufficiently we made our way inside to eat tasty little cakes and drink Coke and Fanta. At the henna party most of the guests received delicate tracings of flowers and leaves on their hands and feet. I was a little slow on the uptake and did not realize I had to make a mini-appointment with the lady doing the henna. While everyone got decorated there was dancing for those already done and music by a live band. The dancing was beautiful and fun with women shaking their hips and trying to teach me to not knock over things as I dance all over the place.... :)
The bride and me
With bride and groom at the henna party
Wednesday brought wedding day! I went with Ghizlaine to get her hair and makeup done and tried to do my own as Ghizlaine, lying on the stylist's chair, kept calling out "More black eyeliner!" We finished up around 9 p.m. (on purpose!) and made our way back to her parent's house to get dressed. I borrowed one of her sister's dresses as Ghizlaine got glammed by her outfit-changing-helper ladies. She had three women help her all night to navigate the 7, that's right - 7, dress changes that typically occur at a Moroccan wedding. Brahim's family came to retrieve us from the house around midnight and after a quick tour of El Jadida where her family lives we made it to the reception hall for dancing, food and more pictures and video than thought possible!
The marital throne
A band played upbeat, don't-stop-until-the-wee-hours music for the guests who danced for the bride and groom and in between dress changes. We had delicious food including: pastries, a shrimp dish, lamb and an ice cream dulce de leche cake with fresh fruit. The wedding lasted until 8 the next morning - those dresses are elaborate! - and the next morning saw tired but happy guests waving Ghizlaine and Brahim off to Casablanca for a mini-honeymoon before their real one to Turkey next month.
Rgizlaine in her last dress
As Ghizlaine and Brahim dropped me off at the airport a couple days after the wedding I looked around and realized it wasn't warm croissants and cafe au laits that I could get used to. Being around her family as they celebrated one of the most important days in her life made me ache for my family and friends back home and really drove home that it is sharing moments like this with those you love most that makes up the best times.
See more pictures from the big day here.