Weddings in Algeria are a fusion of many rituals. Like many other Muslim countries, marriage is an important event in Algeria.
The Algerian men and women are free to marry whomever they wish as long as the marriage partner is approved by the family.
Usually, the man will express his love for a woman to his mother. If the mother gives her approval after gathering information about the girl, the family will approach the woman's family to propose the union. A date will be chosen to visit the mosque so as to begin the engagement.
The Koran is usually recited during the engagement function. After the engagement, the next ceremony is the actual signing of the contract of marriage, called ‘lehlal’. A religious man prepares the contract and it is necessary that 12 men play the role of witnesses that the marriage has been legal and has the consent of both parties. Dowry will be discussed during the engagement.
After the engagement is 'shoura'. It means the family will begin purchasing clothing, household goods, wool and gold for the wedding.
Preparations for the wedding start right after the engagement. The two families will decide on the tasks each of them will be responsible for. The two families can decide on either having two ceremonies, each of them organises one, or they share the responsibilities of organising one single big ceremony. Traditionally, Algerians believe in expensive weddings. It would show the respect of the family.
Weeks before the actual wedding, women begin gathering at the bride's house to prepare desserts such as 'makroud and baklava'. The wedding meal will include couscous, meat and vegetables. The bigger the meal, the more generous the family is said to be.
A henna party will be arranged in the bride’s house, where female members of the groom’s family bring stuff called 'jehaz' - traditional dresses and jewellery etc for the bride. The oldest woman will decorate the bride’s hands and feet with henna and gives her milk and dates.
Before the big day, the groom buys gifts for his bride and her.
On the day of the wedding day first the bride goes to the ‘hammam’ - the Turkish bath - with the closest women of her family. This ritual symbolizes purity and prosperity. The women help her bath while singing for her.
After that, the bride goes to her parents’ house. She would be dressed in a green traditional outfit and would decorate her hands and feet with henna.
Traditional Algerian dress takes a lot of time to be prepared as they are hand-made and has a lot of embroideries. An Algerian bride will have seven different dresses, including one that represents the region from which the bride’s family is. Every dress is accompanied with heavy jewellery.
The bride and the groom will sit on decorated thrones and the families. A holy man conducts the ceremony and the bride and the groom then walk out as husband and wife. The guests dance around accompanied by live music. A grand feast is arranged soon after that and it may continue for hours.
Following the party, the bride is driven to the groom's home. All the guests dance and join in great reverie as they prepare to say farewell.