Moroccans weigh whether wedding customs justify the expense
With the rising cost of neggafas and other marriage traditions, some engaged Moroccans find it makes more sense to spend money on a first home rather than a dream wedding.
By Imane Belhaj for Magharebia in Casablanca – 29/08/08
“Weddings used to go on for seven days of joy, singing and banquets. Nowadays, Moroccans have reduced celebrations into a single night, in which insane amounts of money are spent,” commented one mother.
Even in the southern desert cities, where such week-long extravaganzas were once common, seven nights of celebrations are now reduced to one or two: henna night, organised by a woman called the neqqacha in the bride’s family home, followed by the wedding.
One major expense is the neggafa, a specialist who helps the bride get dressed and takes care of the wedding protocols. Her cost typically ranges from 3,000 to 10,000 dirhams.
The neggafa’s assistants handle the trills of joy (zaghareed) and the praising of the Prophet, until the bride arrives riding the emarya (a kind of howdah, a platform to transport the bride) at the wedding hall.
But inflated costs have become one of the leading reasons driving many away from marriage.
Shu’aib is 28 years old and still unmarried. “I actually shudder”, he told Magharebia, “especially since I watched what happened to some of my friends”.
“Some of them are still paying for the expenses of the wedding, the dowry and the bridal gift,” he added.
Samir, on the other hand, said his experience was a successful one, since he met the girl of his dreams – one who truly understood that young people of their age could not really afford an expensive wedding. His bride Zahraa told him she did not want to spend money just to please people or pretend to be richer than she actually is.
“Samir and I worked out a simple calculation of how much we needed to give a wedding party and go on a ten-day honeymoon along with all the clothes and jewellery needed for the event. We realised that the amount of money would be enough for the down-payment on an apartment,” Zahraa said.
“The instalments we would continue to pay to cover the cost of the wedding are the monthly instalments for the house where we will live for the rest of our lives,” she explains.
Even well-off young men often choose not to get married.
Khaled, 28, descends from an affluent family, has a well-paid job and has managed to buy a high-end apartment, but is still unwilling to get married.
“I’m not ready yet to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage, at least not for the time being. I am scared of failure,” he commented.