Brings to mind an experience from about a decade ago, when I led a team to conduct sociological research in a conservative, tight-knit part of Central Asia. One day most of the team went another rite of passage / social event, a circumcision party. Half of them got sick from eating food that may have been prepared days in advance or perhaps had just been sitting out in the sun too long. Oops.
Well, a party big enough to allow 4-5 foreign gatecrashers without batting an eyelash is probably a good sized party. I don't remember how many people were there but one of the things they reported, after the event was over, was that the father of the boy for whom the event was being held said he had about 1000 relatives, "maybe 200 close ones."
How would you like to try caring for and feeding that many people?
In many of the places where we've done these research projects, weddings are a huge deal and can really break a family, financially. That's why a typical wedding gift is a generous gift of cash to help cover the wedding expenses. No, we won't be taking an offering. I am pretty sure we can cover this. (Thanks to some help coming from the bride's big collection of parents, it's true.)
In Kyrgyzstan families may get around the cost by eloping. The problem is that the decision is made on the groom's side without consulting the bride. A girl may have no idea what is going on until a coworker, classmate - maybe her crush or boyfriend, but just as likely a perfect stranger - pulls to the side of the road when she's walking alone some day, grabs her, and carries her off.
|Kyrgyz bride and groom (source)|
"It was good enough for me, it's good enough for you," the mother-in-law instructs her new household servant. This has been going on for generations.
Well, on a lighter note: Yesterday I bought my wedding dress. A relief to have made that step, though finishing the outfit is of course a little more difficult than the daily task of deciding if my socks should match my shirt. The shop will get it professionally cleaned and I'll have to arrange to have it altered. I'll probably buy some new shoes, fancy undergarments, jewelry, and more.
Looks like I'll have my mom weave a silk sash to go with the dress. Oh, and I think I'm going to wear a hat. It's Chris's sister's, and looks great with the new dress. By the way, if I were dressing like one of those Central Asian brides, I'd probably also wear a hat. I'm afraid that for me, their hats a little too ... smurfy (see right). What do you think? Do a Google Images search on Kyrgyz hats for many more of the sort!
I'm glad that our cultural traditions do not forbid the bride from smiling, as is the case in many of the traditional cultures which I've visited.