The musicians gathered at the head of our procession. The groom’s family proceeded up the street carrying giant cone-shaped gifts as horns blared. A door opened. We grouped around the steps as camera-wielding women in kaftans came out. Clapping to the music, the bride and groom’s family formed a ring around the musicians who began to sing; the song was personalized and Zakariah’s name appeared frequently. To my surprise, my host mother shuffled into the ring, stuffed a 20 dirham bill into the lead singer’s collar, and retreated. Other guests did the same and the music soared a little higher each time.
Suddenly the group swept into the door and we began the trudge to the fifth floor.
I blinked. Draped in pink fabric, the room glimmered with a thick, hot atmosphere. No ventilation relieved the heat as the guests sat at the clusters of white-draped tables and chairs.
For a moment I missed her; the bride sat motionless on a white couch beneath a tent of pink curtains. Her dress was emerald. Her hands were covered in henna and jewelry.
To my knowledge, the ceremony neither began nor ended—it just existed. The groom sat with the bride, raised her veil, and a million pictures were snapped as a camera woman filmed every moment, occasionally sweeping the room to film the guests. We merely sat and observed the couple, who sat and observed the camera woman. Music blared so loudly that I continued to hear vestiges of it for several days.
The bride and groom left. Guests danced and music blared. Occasionally an older woman would rise and dance, wiggling her hips and laughing at the applause. At this point one of my relatives, an aunt perhaps, tugged at my sleeve and motioned urgently. Eventually, I understood from her insistent gestures at my lips that she was concerned for their relative nakedness. To my horror, she produced a handbag. From the handbag, a box. From the box, lipstick.
I was trapped by bejeweled women and hampered by an oversized kaftan. There was no escape. I was thoroughly and congenially lipsticked.
Luckily the bride and groom returned before any other modifications were made to my face. This time the bride wore a pulsing blue dress and different jewelry glittered in her hair. The process of picture-taking was repeated before they disappeared again.
Another hour or two… and they returned. She was yet more brilliant in yet another dress, this time yellow and silky. More pictures were taken and the dancing continued sporadically.
Then suddenly, after seven, maybe eight hours, waiters appeared and served tea and cookies. Shortly thereafter, tajine and pastille were served. I ate until thoroughly stuffed.
Then, quite suddenly, without any further ceremony, much of the groom’s family rose and we all shuffled out to catch a taxi home at a healthy hour of 1 am…
So much for ten hours waiting for a Moroccan wedding. Turns out, the waiting was the wedding.