Our Sahara Nomad Wedding – Part 1 – The Planning

[ad#Rotating 300 x 250 Banner] Traveling to the Sahara can be difficult, bringing your wedding party is even more so

For those of you who want to skip my arduous descriptions (but you are only cheating yourself), you can find our virtual wedding album here.If you want to book your own Sahara adventure, here are the guys to talk to:

First of all, I would like to thank all of you that have sent us your wishes and love. I would also like to offer my apologies for not being able to invite everyone we would have loved to see to our wedding. Given the incredible troubles we had with the legalities, the uncertainty of my schedule at the American Language Center in Fes in terms of when we would have time to get married, and the problems we had planning anything because of cultural influences, the time we had between planning and execution was minimal. We thought of sending announcements through Facebook, but because logistically we needed to have a small wedding, we limited guests to Hanane’s necessary family and a few friends here in Fez. Again, thank you all for your warm wishes and congratulations! We look forward to spending time with all of you in the future…inchallah.

Once upon a time…

It’s two months since we were legally married now and we’ve finally had our wedding. A wedding in Turkey, a wedding in the Sahara, a wedding in Fes, anywhere where we wouldn’t have to see those same Sefoui drunk boys ogling my bride.

I was able to convince Hanane that she deserved something more and better and altogether more exquisite, but I didn’t reckon on the power of her family over her. What the fairy tales don’t tell you is that Cinderella had spent her life defending her family.

She was convinced that her step mother only loved her and that was why she always came to her to do the chores. She always tried to think of them first…and of course, that’s the problem. This turned out to be a battle over control of Hanane with me fighting on one side and her family on the other. Through the course of this relationship it has been such and I think this might explain a lot of the times I get angry with Hanane, I find myself fighting her entire family to liberate her and I find her fighting against me on their side sometimes, and yet, when she is away from them, she realizes what she wants and it’s not to be under their control.

So, our wedding was a battle from start to finish. First there was the battle of the bureaucracy. Next came the post office skirmish (see Going Postal in Morocco), finally came the wedding war. Hanane wanted a wedding. I told her she could have one anyplace other than Sefrou. She told me that it was for her family more than anything. I caved and said okay. We were happy. I sensed that suddenly Hanane wasn’t planning her wedding anymore but instead an expensive party for her mom, family, and neighbors.

I asked her questions, I asked her to close her eyes and visualize her wedding, who was there, what did it look like, what had she dreamed of? The answer I got was the beach and no one there, then the sea and no one there (except me of course), and finally, she said in a tent near her families house was what she had dreamed of as a little girl. Not a lot of people, delicious food, a band, dancing, and beautiful clothes. In short, not really what her family was pressuring her to have. They wanted us to have something for them that neither of us wanted. It was clear.

We spent the morning talking and we decided that we would get a big tent and have the wedding on the roof of her parents house. We would invite a maximum of 30 people. Her family and the neighbors that she likes and some of my friends and colleagues from the American Language Center in Fes. My one solid demand was that we have live music instead of Mohammad and his stereo. Suddenly we were both happy and excited about our wedding again.
parents in Morocco
Of course her family rejected it. He mom said it was hshuma to not invite every person within a mile and allow them all to bring their friends. She said the neighbors would throw rocks at us. She refused. She told Hanane that if Hanane wanted to have that kind of a wedding than she would just be a guest. All of this happened in Sefrou, where I try not to go at all these days, not because I hate Sefrou but because I don’t like the family drama. So, I wasn’t there. We had previously decided to go ahead and have our wedding in the Sahara and her aunts and family had mocked her. That was when I had relented and we had decided on the tent plan. Now they rejected that plan too.

Hanane came back to Fes a messed up bundle of tears and emotions. She was convinced that we had to have the wedding their way or to have no wedding at all and she was crying and pissed about it. It was at this point that I realized what I had to do.

“I’m through with this bullshit. We’re having our wedding in the Sahara. I will pay for your parents, your sister, and your brother to come and if anyone else wants to come, they are welcome if you want them to, but they have to pay their own way.”

She was an emotional wreck and told me that she would do nothing, she was done. Like her mom had. I said that was fine and I set about calling our nomad friends Hassan and Assou to make arrangements. They offered to arrange food, accommodation, a camel trek, and the wedding with live music for a price I couldn’t refuse. I agreed and I told Hanane that we were doing it. It needed to be my decision.

She told me her parents would refuse and so I told her to get her things and we went to Sefrou where I told them all what we were doing. She was half right, her father refused because he doesn’t like to leave his sheep, but her mom agreed. Somehow during the week before we went the guest list who I was responsible for changed from her brother into her sister-in-law and her two sweet sons. Her younger brother made everyone mad by being a teen age boy and declaring his independence and was told he couldn’t go by his mom. So, I was responsible for seven of us- food, drink, transport, and fun. Me, Hanane, her mom, Samira and her two boys, and her sister, Zahira. I also invited my friends Sam-Omar and Sarah. Zahira at the last minute (literally when we were on the way to the overnight bus) invited one of her friends. That was fine, but I made it clear he had to pay for himself as Sam-Omar and Sarah had. Of course, I already knew that wouldn’t happen.

Coming in a few days will be part two – The Trip to the Sahara


Vago Damitio

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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