Last night was my first Georgian wedding experience, and what an experience it was. Fun, crazy, bizarre -- an adventure not to be forgotten.
At five o'clock I was ready to leave the house. Tea, Koba, Koba's brother-in-law Valeri, Tea's sister Teona, and I piled into a car and drove to the bride's parents' house (Koba's aunt and uncle, which makes the bride his cousin). Some other relatives were there waiting to leave for the "qampania" -- wedding party. Although most of the family was milling around outside, coats on, we were ushered into the dining room to sit down and eat. I was a bit baffled -- Koba led me into the room saying, "Sit, sit down, Stepani. Eat, eat!" When he saw the look on my face (it was frozen, mouth agape in complete incredulity), he threw his back and laughed. Tea followed me in, and we all sat down. I finally found some words through the veils of confusion blocking my ability to verbalize anything, and stammered, "Aren't we going to a huge party right now? Why are we eating?" Koba said (through Tea's translation) that it would be three or four hours yet before we would eat, so I should eat a little something. So I ate a little something. Knowing how much food would be at the party and knowing that Georgians want a guest to be eating all the time, I ate a very little. About ten minutes later, someone whirled into the room to announce that it was time to go. We abandoned our plates and the table full of food, piled into three different cars, and jostled our way out of the village.
|The bride, Lika with one of Koba's cousins, Giorgi and me|
(and, no, Georgians don't usually smile in pictures)
|Tea and me (Tea does smile in pictures!)|
It was well after 8 o'clock when the men piled back into the cars and we drove the rest of the way to the wedding party. The party took place inside a large tent erected in the front yard of the groom's house. When we arrived, all the guests from the bride's side were standing around outside the front gate waiting for the bride and groom to arrive -- the bride's guests do not enter the party before she does. (Tea and I sat in the car to wait.... again.) About 15 minutes later, they drove up, horn blaring. They went into the house, and everyone followed, forming a receiving line to congratulate the couple. Once the receiving line was finished, we went into the tent to start the party.
|About 1/100th of the food on the tables|
|Koba's brother-in-law, Valeri and me|
There were some really bizarre things that took place, but I told the terribly drunk fundamentalist Christian American teacher (who swore that he wasn't drunk after who-knows-how-many glasses of wine) when he was seated next to me since we are both American, that I wouldn't write about his ridiculous behavior and un-invited advances in my blog. Let's just say that I much preferred the company of the Georgian men to his immature, insecure, can't-hold-his-liquor, ramblings.
At 2 a.m., Tea pulled me off the dance floor to go home. (I was glad, because some of the young men were starting to fight over who was going to dance with me. The wine was starting to take over....) One of Koba's cousins had gotten into a fight with some of the other young men, and Koba wanted to remove him from the situation. When everyone was finally loaded into the cars, we drove back to Shamgona. The cousin who was in our car had drunk quite a lot, and all the way back to the house, he rambled about sports, music, and politics in a cyclical fashion. First he named basketball players and their teams for awhile, then he moved on to singers and song titles, then countries and leaders.....then back to the basketball players. Tea and I were entertained -- we said that it was like switching between radio stations.... but the DJs were all a bit tipsy.
I was so glad to crawl into my warm bed at 2:45. I decided to wait until morning to clean all the sawdust off my boots!