The Wedding Ceremony

Tashkent Travel Blog

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The happy couple on center stage

The big day finally came and I would soon be transitioning from wedding guest to solo traveler. While Gulchehra and her aunts went out to get their hair done, Saloh and I took our time getting ready. My clothes had become quite wrinkled, but luckily Saloh happily volunteered to iron them for me. Since I wasn't even sure where the wedding was going to be, I had to follow. Saloh was not rushed and by the time we arrived the procession had already begun. A long white limousine stretched out in front of the Hotel Uzbekistan entrance. Four trumpeters lined up along the red carpet under the canopy leading to the hotel lobby. Their 12-foot-long horns were bellowing welcome, and it wasn't until I recognized Ogiljon's bridesmaid I'd met that morning, I wouldn't have known it was for our party.

The cake ceremony
Unfortunately I missed all the good photo ops, but saw the groom, Sardor, get out of the limo, followed by Ogiljon. A tambourine-like drum along with the horns changed their tune and started marching towards the banquet hall.

The hall was bedecked in all-white satin and chiffon, with gold ribbons wound around the pillars. One side of the hall had a stage with a band and the other was for the wedding party. Seating was a free-for-all, mostly divided by gender. As a result of trying to take everything in, snap a few photos and figure out what I was supposed to do, I ended up in the corner behind a pillar, but at least could see the bride and groom from the side. There were some signing of papers or something that I missed right at the beginning, but then the fanfare quickly began with traditional Uzbek dancers, including a girl in pink silk with her hair in long black braids. Next was a trio of bellydancers in gold, followed by a group of five girls and one guy, each wearing a different color. After some announcements in Uzbek and Russian, a single bellydancer wearing a robin's egg blue (and very little of that) gyrated to music. The entertainment continued throughout much of the evening with lots of singing by different artists, the band "Eurasia" and a duet. And there was plenty of Uzbek dancing for the guests, in between the various courses of meals.

The food was quite impressive and definitely not traditional Uzbek fare. The table was set with all sorts of salads, cold meats, vegetables, cheeses, fruits, bread and of course drinks. Every table had Parlament vodka, Uzbek wine and Uzbek cognac. It should go without saying that my table--all men--chose the vodka. There were few formal toasts, neither for the couple nor at the table. Pretty much people were clinking glasses and drinking, but not too terribly much. I don't think anyone could be described as wasted, although the person closest to that state happened to be sitting at my table and kept calling me Jahongir, an Uzbek name that I happen to be fond of. Our table was visited by what was rumored to be one of Central Asia's most famous singers.

I was stuffed with all the food, from the flaky somsa to the spicy meat and vegetable soup to the chicken Kiev, but with all the dancing and drinking it balanced out. When the cake was cut, they fed pieces to parents, relatives and the wedding party, then to each other. Oddly many of the guests did not get cake, because the ceremony was over after that.

It was more elaborate than any wedding I'd ever been to, and I am sorry to have had to edit details just to keep up. I didn't get to say goodbye to everyone but I did give Sardor his gifts as the limo was starting to pull away. They don't really have a wedding gift table, and I hadn't officially met the groom until then, but it was definitely worth the trip and I hope to come back to Shohsanam's wedding.

 

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The happy couple on center stage
The happy couple on center stage
The cake ceremony
The cake ceremony
Tashkent
photo by: Deats