Algerian men and women are free to marry whomever they wish as long as the marriage partner is approved by the family. Parents have a more realistic view and can give their children practical guidance in selecting the appropriate marriage mate. Typically a man will express his love for a woman to his mother who will in turn "investigate" the family of the woman as to suitability. If she is approved the family will approached the woman's family to propose the union. A date will be chosen to visit the mosque so as to begin the engagement.
Much preparation takes place from the time of engagement. The family will begin purchasing clothing, household goods, wool and gold. This is referred to as shoura. The couple will spend time together getting to know each other well, sharing opinions and preparing a home. In Islamic culture, husbands and wives are to make mutual decisions and have equal claims in the marriage, it is therefore vital that the couple know each other well and recognize the roles they will take on before marriage.
Algerians believe that the more money that is spent on the wedding, the more proud the family can be. 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.
Following the party, the bride is driven to the groom's home. Beautifully adorned in an intricate wedding gown, with make-up, excessive jewelry, and henna designs painted on her hands and feet, she is seated on a decorated chair in his house. All the guests dance and join in great reverie as they prepare to say farewell. The groom will then approach his bride and from that point forward they walk out as husband and wife. The newly-wed couple is always surrounded by cheering family members and friends.
Algerian wedding customs may vary slightly depending how orthodox the family is and if the people follow other religions. Algerian weddings are truly an explosion of emotion and color. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to see a wedding procession during your holiday.