Coming from a culture which lacks much formal overriding moral influence, my biggest concern was whether I would offend my host family through my actions or speech. Predeparture our class discussed how because many of the marriages are arranged and dating is not formally permitted, it would be inappropriate and uncomfortable to ask our families how the couples would have met. I was therefore surprised and delighted that my host mother (or as she says sister because of our 7 year age difference) has, and continues to, share so much of her personal life with us. She mentions how different the culture is now than when she was younger, even though it wasnt so long ago. She mentions how in modern Morocco many young people date and its likely that 20-50% of the ladies will have been with a man before their wedding day, which is different than when she was married. Similarly, the age when the families expect the daughters to marry has changed as well. It is now apparently more accepted for the girls to wait to marry (at least past the 21 year age mark that Marium was wed at). She tells how her marriage was not arranged but she did not date either. Her now husband would come to her family house and spend time with her and her family for years before they were wed. This style of courting seemed respectful yet moving towards a more modern direction.
We were also shown a video of Marium’s wedding today. Throughout the wedding there were a total of 5 costume changes by the bride and two by the mother. Each outfit represented a different region or concept, for example the two white gowns worn, displayed styles from Rabat and then Fez. The bride spends a significant amount of time being carried in the air like a queen. Because of Marium’s opera background she was able to recruit two famous local singers to preform at her wedding as well. After being exposed to Arab Idol, it was clear that the voices of her famous friends matched their reputations. The part of the ceremony i found most odd was this process of paying for ther bride. Similar to our “I do’s” the Moroccan version is a man running back and fourth between the bride and groom negotiating a price to be paid for the bride. I suppose this is more traditional show since merium said that Nadir never actually paid her but rather bought her jewelry and the house they now live in. Interesting cultural diffences Im thankful to have learned about!