Friday, July 5, 2013

Our first local wedding

We were invited to our first wedding here! I was excited to observe new cultural things at the event. The invitation said 7:00 pm at a restaurant, so we made our way there. We started to get nervous because, with traffic and everything, we were running more than a half an hour late. Now, people here aren't as punctual as Americans, but I have observed them to be more just "fashionably late" and generally timely. Anyways, we get to the restaurant, enter the banquet room, and see the following:

Now that's a lot of empty chairs. In fact, us 4 were the only people in the room with the exception of a couple restaurant guys setting up. We started to sweat a little bit, and had to have read over the invitation 7 times. Where was everyone? 

At some point, someone either told us or we overheard that "they" were at the mosque and would be coming soon, so we just waited. (The invitation didn't say anything about that part). The first people started to trickle into the room at about 8:15. Whew. Finally some djs came and officially announced welcome at 9:15. We kept making bets on the time that the bride and groom would make an entrance. Well, Ronnie's second bet of 9:41 was the most accurate. They came in and went immediately into an almost choreographed few minutes of first dance, pictures, cake cutting, and more dancing. We just sat back and observed.

At one point, the bride and groom started dancing, and people would walk up and throw $1 bills at them, not the local money, but American money - I still need to find out the significance of that. They would hold the money for a bit, and then kids would run up and give it to the dj (I don't know if it was for the bride and groom or the dj). Later they had open dancing, but only women went up on the dance floor (Ronnie was very disappointed). After that, the bride and groom stood at the front and people were supposed to walk up and pin money on them or give them gold - it is what they do instead of gifts. The funny thing is that the dj would announce who was giving how much. When us 4 went up, I am pretty sure he announced us as "the American friends giving some money" haha. The music was so loud; I think my ears got used to it but my voice was really tired from screaming at people. Refreshments consisted of Pepsi and a small plate of pastries and cake. The following picture is us with the lady who invited us. She is the groom's mom, and also works at the spa we go to. We left at 11:40, 4 hours after arriving, which I didn't think was too bad! It was an exhausting night with a lot of visual and audio stimulation, but such a good experience.