Here in the heart of Amazigh culture, weddings haven't changed too much in thousands of years. The clothes have gotten a little fancier, but the music and dancing and feasting feel as old as these hills.
As I've mentioned, my cousin "Lucky" has been engaged for months now. At least half a year; the first time I asked when the wedding would be, I was told, "Probably after Ramadan." Since I wouldn't have asked if Ramadan had already begun, I must have heard about the engagement sometime in July or August.
And they never set a date.
The wedding has been "soon" for six months. And then, two days ago, I walked home from the transit stand, past my aunt and uncle's house, and they grabbed me. My 3tti and cousin were sitting on their front stoop, as they often are, and they told me that the wedding would be today, Sunday. So this morning, I brought a cone of sugar and my best Berber clothes over to Ama's house, and prepared to play dress-up. She (gently, graciously) vetoed my choice of dress (tejlabbit) and earrings. I'd brought a dozen pairs of earrings, but didn't have any other fancy-dress clothes, so she dressed me up in one of her takshitas (caftans).
My little sister's dress (takshita) was even fancier, being made out of satin:
(Here, she's reading a comic book I'd brought her from Rabat. And yes, we got her to change out of her red turtleneck into one that matched the purple caftan.) I didn't ask why my little sister was so dressed up, but I must have looked a little puzzled, because Ama explained that the dress had been donated by a neighbor. A closer look revealed that it was a good six inches too long and five inches too wide, but a safety-pin across the back had pulled it tight enough to work. (The one-size-fits-all school of caftan design doesn't apply quite as well to little children, who come in a wider variety of sizes than adults.) She further explained that my little sis will get a custom-made, fitted, dress caftan of her own when her big sister gets married (whether that's me or our other sister, now 19 years old), but that for a cousin's wedding, a borrowed one will do.
The bride wore white, which isn't traditional but is becoming increasingly common, and was unveiled, which floored me:
(The other girl is Lucky's cousin, in her best golden-thread caftan/takshita.) Lucky's hair was pulled back in a gorgeous knot, pinned with flowered clips. Really, she could have worn the dress as a bride at the Plaza, and while it would have been clear she came from a different culture, she would have looked like a bride. (Well, I think so, but then, I've been here for 26 months. If I'm wrong, tell me.)
Note that both girls - like nearly every other female at the wedding - have their eyes rimmed intezolt, or kohl. They'd done their makeup before I got there, and I hadn't thought to talk to them about it in the days before (though in retrospect, I should have).
The feasting and dancing and merrymaking went on for hours...into the wee hours. I snuck out early, just after midnight. It helps that I live next door!
And then, in the morning, the 17-year-old bride and her 18-year-old groom - who she'd met for the first time the day before the wedding, despite having been engaged to him for over a year - were packed off to his town. A PCV buddy of mine lives in that town; I'll ask him to keep an eye out for her.
And inshallah, they'll live happily ever after.