#77 - attending a traditional lao wedding!
Luang Prabang Travel Blog› entry 77 of 113 › view all entries
Vithoun picked me up at 8:30am and we got ourselves all sorted by renting a nice, new motorbike for the day. He was worried that riding on his old, somewhat broken bike would be too uncomfortable for me - so we rented a new one. I'm not going to lie - I was definitely nervous about going on a motorbike with him for an hour out to a small little village 35k outside fo Luang Prabang! However....once we started going, I defintiely settled in. I had a helmet on - I used my northface black jacket that I still have with me (that I was starting to feel like I needed to send it home because it's so hot here!) as my "motorcycle jacket" - and Vithoun promised he would drive safely. :) Which he totally did. It was such a peaceful beautiful drive out to the wedding! The last couple km though were a bit bumpy & dusty.
It's hard to put this experience into words actually. I'm of course going to try, but please know that anything I type could not possibly capture how amazing it felt to be a part of the wedding & so welcomed in by this group of Lao people.
So, the village was a bunch of thatched type houses, nothing fancy at all of course & just your basic Lao village. They had some tarps set up where a lot of the women were just sitting under, hanging out. They do that crouched down position so well - I'm in it for a couple minutes & I'm dying! Anyway, then there was a group of men sitting around a table drinking whisky (lao lao) and beerlao.
I of course wanted to see the ceremony. When I walked in the little room, everyone turned and looked at me & people started saying "Sa bai dee". They were all smiling and very welcoming. I of course stood out tremendously because I was the only foreigner there (they call us farang). At first I was very nervous about taking pictures, so I asked if I could & they all assured me it was fine. I started trying to capture the experience - I hope in these pictures you can get a sense of what it was like.
The bride and groom - who were 18 and 19 by the way, they have known each other for 3 years - were sitting on the ground dressed in beautiful red & gold outfits. They were sitting in front of these arrangemetns of banana leaves & flowers - that were in the shape of little pyramid type things. There were two officiants from what I could tell. An older man & an older woman. I found out later that typically it's someone who used to be a monk that performs these ceremonies. And it definitely has to be an older person. I'm not sure about the woman & what her role was.
Anyway, there was all sorts of chanting, the bride & groom exchanged food at one point, they had their hands together at one point when some more blessings were said, & the older woman threw rice in the air & they all cheered at different points in the ceremony.
While this was going on, the men outside continued to drink. They actually summoned me outside at one point and made sure I got a couple shots of lao lao. Ack! It was defintiely strong, but hey, when in Rome!!!
I went back into the ceremony when they did the string tying part of the ceremony. They passed out white string to a lot of the guests & everyone had to go up to the bride and the groom & tie the string around their wrist and wish them good luck (chok dee!). It was so sweet, when I went up to the groom, he asked me "What is your name?", "Where are you from?" and he thanked me for being there. It was SO SO SO SO sweet.
After the ceremony, the bride & groom went up to the "stage" area where the band was & they made some announcements. Then it was time for the first dance.
So, then there was a big feast & people drank a lot & there was a lot of dancing. Pretty much like any other wedding!! Same same, but different. :)
I danced with many different people & the band even dedicated a song to me called "Farang, my friend". Again, I welled up a bit. It was just so unbelievable.
Another highlight for me that day were some of the kids that were there. I had brought some books with me that I bought at Big Brother Mouse that are to help kids with their English & I gave them to a few of the kids that I had been playing around with.
I took a million pictures so I'm not sure I'll be able to post them all here. I'm sure I'll be blowing a lot of these up! It was just so incredible.
Oh - one more thing - for gifts, people give money. They have the big wedding box where people put the envellopes. Another tradition that is definitely done at other weddings I've been to (Steph - you had one, right?)
Anyway, I was at the wedding with Vithoun until 5:00! What a day!!!! We drove back to the city & right when I got back I wanted to go hear the monks chant at one of the wats.
Unfortunately, I missed the monks chanting, but I did run into Brian who was there as well. It was fun to catch up with him & tell him about the unbelievable day I just had. We decided to get a bite to eat (I was actually starving because I didn't eat too much at the wedding - I liked the food but after it had sat around for awhile & there were some flies on it, I stopped diving in as much!) & we walked along the Meekong & happened upon the Big Tree restaurant where Kor worked! He was there so we chatted with him a bit & decided to eat there. I had a DELICIOUS larp (minced chicken thingy) and some yummy spring rolls.