I showed up to this wedding like every other wedding – one hour early with plenty of time to prepare and make sure all gear is operating, check with the event coordinator, get dressed and align the wedding party for the introductions while squeezing in a warm congratulations to the Bride and Groom. This was not my first wedding with people that looked like me were the minority; in fact, there were less than five people that were not Vietnamese inside the building with a party of about 300 guests and staff. As someone that has traveled and lived in other parts of the world, being different does not feel, well, different to me. I imagine part of this is due to the fact that I grew up less than thirty miles from NYC and spent a large chunk of my teens and early twenties roaming the streets searching and finding all kinds of people and situations to learn from.
The first thing that struck me at this particular wedding was how late many of the guests arrived. Again, spending a year and a half in Asia has demonstrated this is a cultural thing and does not reflect any disrespect or lack of importance for the event. We got started about thirty minutes ‘late’. The next step is what really caught my attention. It was a tradition to call up over forty members of the family individually to the stage where my gear and me were stationed and introduce them to a warm and simple acknowledgment. This was not the wedding party, all except the Bride and Groom were already seated, this is just family – Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Parents, siblings and a few cousins. They took several photos before dispersing to their respective tables at which time I announced dinner would be served – a seven-course meal!
As the night continued, for each special tradition the Bride disappeared into a private room, changed and returned wearing a new and even more beautiful dress than the last. In her best English she kidded with me, “Michael tonight I am rainbow”. She was. I wish I had photos of each dress to share with you; they were amazing and full of life and vitality, no boring old things here.
Another note that I would like to share is the amount of enthusiasm and effort that goes into their version of the Bouquet Toss and Garter Belt. It was an exciting twenty minutes or longer by the time it was completed with me needing to quickly shift gears to add songs that were not part of the playlist we had created together. It was fun and playful to see grown men and women enjoy each component with such joy and willingness.
By the time The Bride was wearing her silk emerald green dress and everybody was filling the dance floor with vigor and joy, most of the guests were worn out from having so much fun. To me this is why I like to participate in weddings. It is about The Bride, Groom and guests having a great time with that look of participating in an epic event by the end of the night.
Driving home from Colmar, PA I was reflecting on the night and how we assume that a wedding or the music has to follow a certain formula. Some of this is due to the venues and caterers needing to do things they way they have found successful but I think it is also a testament to us being afraid to let our voices express what we really want and how it should look. There are few days in a lifetime that carry the same weight as a wedding outside of birth and death. Since the other two we have little say in how they manifest our wedding is where we do have a voice in what it is like, maybe even to the last detail.
I know that some vendors cringe when a Bride starts to offer her ideas on making the day a little different than the way they are typically. I am not one of them and I know I am not alone. There are many wedding vendors that appreciate and even look forward to working with a Bride who wants to take the time ad effort to express herself fully at her wedding. I want to offer my Congratulations to those of you willing to take that risk and make this day totally yours!