25 May 2012

a big fat Thai/Chinese/American wedding...

Last weekend I got the privilege of attending my first and probably only Thai/Chinese/American wedding.  I met the couple at our church when we first got here and they have been good friends ever since.  Kate is Thai/Chinese and Joel is from Texas, and its definitely a small world because we went to A&M together and graduated the same year from the business school.  We didn't know each other at A&M but both thought each other looked familiar and turns out we have a lot of mutual friends...crazy!  They met when Kate came to America as an exchange student in high school.  She became a Christian here in America because of her host family.  They dated long distance for a couple years then Joel moved here to Thailand last year.  The wedding was all day long 7:30am-10pm with a small break, but it was a blast.  I even had the opportunity to direct the night part of the wedding at the ceremony!  I had to make sure people were in their places and when to walk and such.  It was a great experience to learn more about Thai and Chinese culture and interesting to see all these cultures collide.  It was one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever been to and I was so honored to be a part of it.

If you're interested in the culture, which you should be because its so very interesting, here is a little glimpse of our day...

7:30am - early yes I know. The Thai part of the wedding festivities begins. In Thailand it is custom for the bride and groom to get engaged on the same day as the wedding.  In order to do so the groom has to find his bride and pass through various points where the bride's family is waiting.  At each stop he has to pay some of the dowry to the family in order to pass.  After he has paid the dowry at each of the stops he can finally see his bride.  The groom first lines up outside with all his friends and family behind him.  Each one of them get to carry a piece of the dowry (oranges, umbrellas, money, and even a banana tree)!  It is so cool to see this tradition played out.  At first I was like what? that is crazy! But then when I saw it I realized that him and his family were together going to get their new family member and it is a big family affair with both families working together.  It is sweet to think of how precious Kate is portrayed as the groom has to sacrifice in order to get her.

the dowry.
this is what i like to call cultures colliding....confused anyone?

and we got it....

the line of friends a family. 

oh yeah that's a banana tree.

We were able to see Joel go through the first couple of stops but after that he went by himself.  Once he found Kate they came back into the main room for the Engagement.  They seat the parents, grandparents, and close relatives of the bride and groom.  They ask questions about why Joel wants to marry Kate and the bride and groom pay honor and respect to their elders.  They give more of the dowry including the biggest part, the money.  We've heard that sometimes the parents of the bride end up giving it back to the bride and groom and sometimes not.  Then the rings are presented and they're engagement is official!

paying honor to parents, grandparents, and friends

they put the dowry money in a bag and put it over their shoulders (because apparently its really heavy)

right after the engagement. isn't she ravishing?

paying honor to the parents.

our whole church group. yay!


so very precious.

9am - The Chinese part of the wedding begins and Joel and Kate pay honor to all their relatives.  Each one of their friends and families comes and sits before them and the bride and groom bless, present gifts, and honor them by giving them tea to drink.  This was probably one of the neatest times to me because it wasn't just about Joel & Kate it was about honoring everyone in their lives who has poured into them.  The amount of honor and respect that the Thais have for their elders is so beautiful.  It was a time to thank their parents for all the sacrifice and hard work they had done on their behalf. 

giving grandparents the tea.

her 3 sweet sisters paying them respect.

6:00pm - We break for a few hours, go home and change, and return for the American/Christian part of the wedding.  This part was very similar to a normal American wedding except for that part of it was in Thai with an English translation.

jumping through a ton of hoops they finally found kristen a cello to play. it was beautiful.

my sweet friend maew (and my language tutor)

let's hear it for the boys.

the girls.

the farangs (the white people)

our church group!

8:00pm - The reception begins!  They have two emcees that share about Joel & Kate's story.  They had a really sweet slideshow and played a game to see how well the bride and groom new each other.  They then brought the parents of the bride and groom up and let them share and then again Joel & Kate went a paid honor to their parents.  The bride and groom even got the chance to share what they loved about each other, which I feel at most weddings everything is so rushed and you don't get that opportunity.  Then Kate's sweet sister came up and sang a surprise song.  Then they literally had the biggest knife to cut their cake...awesome.  Later, the group from our church came up and did a surprise song & dance to "I will follow him".  (believe it or not it may or may not have been my idea).  Lookout because I may be busting out a choreographed dance at your wedding too!

i mean really with that knife sword.

kate's sister, fon, busting it out...


All in all it was one of the most fun and enlightening weddings I have ever been to.  Kate was definitely one of the most breathtaking brides I have ever seen.  And she is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

Thank you Joel & Kate for letting us be apart of your special day.  It is a blessing to know y'all!

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