Traditional Wedding Dresses of the Maghreb Region
By: Nouha Elyazidi / Arab America contributing writer
Weddings are of profound significance in Arab culture. The details involved in planning and executing an Arab wedding are meticulous and can be overwhelming. From the gold, to the invite list, to the food, to the venue – there are a lot of decisions to be made! One of the most important decisions made by the bride is her dress. The remarkable feeling brides get when they finally pick the dress of their dreams is a universal experience, but in the Maghreb region, the dresses are highly unique. The Maghreb region is known to have gorgeous traditional wedding attire, from the beautiful white dresses of Libya embellished with stunning gold pieces, to the elegant black lekhel of Mauritania. Let’s explore the beautiful wedding dresses of the 5 Maghreb countries!
Before I begin, I would like to mention that there are so many different lovely wedding dresses and traditions within each of these countries, but for the sake of this article, we will be selecting traditional dresses from only one city/region of each country.
The traditional wedding dress of Morocco is called a takchita. A takchita is a floor-length gown with two layers, the bottom layer is simple, it is the base of the dress, and the top layer lighter and embroidered or bedazzled with stunning designs of flowers or geometric shapes. At the waistline, a belt matching the takchita is added to complete the final look. In Moroccan wedding traditions, the bride will change her takchita between three to seven times! The majority of brides have a white/cream-colored takchita to begin the night, but after every outfit change, the bride comes out in a new color, the color is mainly dependent on preference or family tradition. The most common colors would be green, blue, or pink.
Accessories that accompany a takchita are sets of gold jewelry with matching sets of bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and tiara/headpieces. Henna on the hands of the bride is undoubtedly necessary and is usually applied either the night before the wedding or during the wedding.
Mauritania wedding dresses are unique because of their color; black. Most brides across the world dress in white on their wedding day, but in Mauritania, brides wear called black dresses lakhels. Lakhels have roots in Bedouin culture and traditions and are viewed as a sign of beauty or joy. Lakhels are made of the best cloth and are paired with a veil of the same material and color. Attached to the veiled is a headpiece called the leroise, which is placed at the hairline and features bright colors and accents of gold. As for accessories, brides are covered in traditional jewelry, and their hands are decorated with beautiful stains of henna.
The traditional wedding dress of Algeria is called the Chedda of Tlemcen. According to the embassy of Algeria, it is a caftan dress made from velvet, usually in the color white/cream, red, green, or blue.
The jewelry worn by Algerian brides is so unique and adds an exquisite element to the dress. Bridal is jewelry made from pearls strung together with threads of gold, and matching necklaces, anklets, and bracelets made of the same pearls and threads. The brides also wear a large gold headpiece with intricate details of gold and fabric matching the colors of the kaftan.
Many brides also wear a thin chiffon veiled embroidered with gold matching the color of their caftan. A unique tradition for Algerian brides is their facial makeup. Some traditions induce the aunt of the bride using red and silver stains to make circles on the cheeks of the bride, as this is said to be protected the bride against any harm they may endure and against the evil eye.
When it comes to Tunisian wedding dresses, the best word to sum up the outfit would be gold! Traditional wedding dresses of Tunisians are with a base dress, usually of a solid color, and the base dress is topped with a large drees completely covered in gold. The gold dress has intriguing details or gold, threaded on with different shades of gold. More gold is added in the form of a cylinder-shaped headpiece and stunning jewelry. The bride wears a veil that also has gold and her hands are decorated with henna stains.
The traditional dress of Libya is white and consists of two pieces, a top, and trousers. The top is made of a thick material featuring flared out sleeves embroidered with gold patterns and designs. The entire outfit is covered in white and gold stripes and the bride is dressed in long gold necklaces and earrings, along with thick gold bracelets and rings. She also wears a traditional headpiece with gold and sometimes colored pom-poms. The final piece is a long veiled that is of the same gold and white striped design as the rest of their dress.
Our bridal fashion tour of the Maghreb region is now complete, and all the designs, styles, and fabrics are so unique and incredible. It is interesting to look at a region of countries with such unique wedding attire and traditions! One this that absolutely connects all these brides is their love for gold!
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