‘I do’ in Marrakech
If the idea of a tropical beach wedding doesn’t appeal, then Morocco’s most beguiling city offers an enchanting alternative
Magical Marrakech is the perfect place for couples to enjoy an exotic city break in a place that is totally unique – with the historic Medina’s labyrinth of atmospheric streets, grand riads and stunning Kasbahs.
However, Marrakech is also fast becoming a popular destination for weddings that differ from traditional ceremonies on sandy beaches – a wedding with added spice and passion. Add to that guaranteed sunshine, a uniquely glamorous setting, and attractive costs compared to weddings in the UK and you have a very tempting proposition. The fact that Moroccan is only a three-hour flight from the UK and is well served by both established carriers like Royal Air Maroc as well as budget airlines is the icing on the cake!
At the heart of Marrakech, the walls of the Medina house a city within a city – a maze of meandering narrow streets lined with cafes, restaurants and workshops, plus the famous souk, which is packed with colourful merchandise ranging from lanterns, rugs, fabrics, decorated plates, clothing and shoes to fresh fruit and spices for you to haggle over to your heart’s content. The focal point is Jemaa el Fnaa, one of the most famous squares in the world, which is a full-on assault to the senses – it’s intriguing by day when you can watch snake charmers and musicians at work and exciting by night when a cloud of fragrant smoke from the plethora of food stalls is punctuated by strings of white lights.
Within the Medina you will discover hidden gems tucked away from the busy streets – traditional riads behind heavy wooden doors that have been converted into magnificent hotels, which provide an oasis of tranquillity. They are often richly furnished in traditional Moroccan style or are transformed into a paragon of minimalist chic. They usually feature swimming pools surrounded by serene courtyards, relaxing spas, intimate bars and restaurants and roof terraces with views stretching out to the Atlas Mountains. Not surprisingly these riads make a great choice for romantic wedding venues.
The ideal time to visit or get married in Marrakech is in spring (from the beginning of March to the end of May) and autumn (from the beginning of September to the end of November). Although the winter months are sunny they do get a little chilly at night and the summer months can be unbearably hot during the day.
Marry in Marrakech
Treat yourselves and your guests to a truly unique and fun wedding experience. The city offers a choice of possible wedding venues including traditional riads as well as palatial villas and luxury hotels in and around the city and traditional Kasbahs, situated between the city and Atlas Mountains. All would provide a romantic setting for your nuptials, particularly when the courtyards are strewn with rose petals and lit by Moroccan lanterns. A number of professional wedding planners specialise in Marrakech and can hold your hand every step of the way, including Boutique Souk (www.boutiquesouk.com) and Marrakech Weddings (www.marrakechweddings.co.uk).
A wedding in lush gardens
Clare and Richard Clarke from London chose a small and beautiful ceremony in Marrakech amid colourful bougainvillea and exotic bird cages in Dar Ayniwen’s garden pavilion (www.dar-ayniwen.com.) “Very few of our family and friends had been to Marrakech, so it offered us the chance to give our 50 guests new experiences, something we focused on during the planning” says Clare, who used Marrakech-based wedding planners Rosena and Fred from Boutique Souk (www.boutiquesouk.com) to help them organise their wedding. “Following the ceremony our guests enjoyed Champagne and canapés in the olive grove at sunset on Moroccan rugs, with a performance of local Gnawan musicians and acrobats. It was amazing” She enthuses.
Vows in a gorgeous riad
Paul and Rachel Tomb from Southampton chose a gorgeous riad in the Medina as the setting for their wedding celebrations. The couple had holidayed in Marrakech previously, staying at Riad Elizabeth (www.riaelizabeth.com) and decided it was the perfect place to say “I do” as well as being a great opportunity to give their friends a glimpse of the beautiful old city. The ceremony took place on the rooftop of Riad Elizabeth, and the couple embraced the local customs: “Most of the girls had henna tattoos the day before the wedding and I had a traditional Berber wedding henna tattoo on my hand. We also had men with lanterns walking us from our ceremony to the reception. Very romantic!” says Rachel.