Pre-Wedding Hustle

[I will put more pictures up later on]

So, Brandon proposed in August 2001, outside the building where the Hollywood Stock Exchange (, where we met and worked together, once was in Santa Monica.

If we could have it our way, we would probably have ended up in Las Vegas either in a Star Trek Experience wedding with a room full of friends and families, Klingons, and Vulcans; or at Excalibur where we could be a lady and a knight. Another idea that Brandon proposed was an old western wedding. You know, Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid kind of old west.

We would have a great time at either one of those weddings. But we didn’t think out folks would like that very much. Because both of us are the youngest of our families, Brandon being the last one to get married and I’m the first, we had to consider in our parents.

Not to mention that we were looking to them for money to throw the shindig. Heheh.

My parents didn’t press on the subject of the dowry, bless their hearts. They understand that Americans don’t run to mommy and daddy for money to marry their girls like Thais do. Besides, “the money from Brandon is coming back to you guys anyway, why do we have to go through all of that?”

Brandon didn’t quite like the idea of the dowry either. He understood the traditions, but it didn’t make him feel better. He felt that it was like “buying” me from my parents.

So both sets of the parents agreed to pay for the wedding as wedding presents for both of us. If we were under budget we can keep the rest.

Brandon and I agreed on a shortened version of Thai wedding at Wat Thai Los Angeles with families and close friends, No procession. No silver/gold gate. None of that stuff. Later on, we’d have an American reception back in Long Beach area with everyone else.

All of that with very limited budget and just about 5 months to pull it off. In American timeline, five months to plan a wedding is quite last minute.

Since I’m not a temple goer, I sought knowledge and assistance through Aunty Tim, a close friend of the family who has practically been my mom in the US since I got here. She was a big help in coordinating with the Wat. We didn’t have an auspicious date calculated like folks do in Thailand. First of all, it’s because we have to coordinate with the reception location, and secondly, we were pressed on time. Sunday, January 20, it was.

My mom did have the date we picked ran back home anyway, just to make sure that at least it’s not the ultimate unlucky day for our marriage. It wasn’t. Not the ideal date, but that’d do it.

Through the temple, we were able to secure the Thai florist/cultural cooridnator to prepare flowers for the offering to the monks and Buddha images, flower tray for the blessing, a Puang Malai, Thai garland, for me to use for bouquet toss later on, and boutonnieres for the attendees and parents to be used at both affairs.

It would have cost us $200 more if we were to order bride and groom Puang Malai as well. But my mother said she’d bring those from Thailand.

Huh? Flower garlands from Thailand, arriving a week before the event? Would they last?

Mom arrived with artificial Puang Malai’s made with scented soap. That’s right, folks. The beautiful “jasmine and rose” garlands you see here around our neck are made of soap. Each individual jasmine buds and rose petals are molded out of soap. Talk about something you can keep forever from your wedding!

Brandon’s Thai wedding suit was tailor-made in Thailand as well. We had the alteration people at the mall measured him and sent home the measurement. By the time the white silk suit with gold Thai silk sash arrived for the wedding, the waist line was a little tight. We also had to move the neck button so Brandon could breath. The suit fit alright, just a tad tight all around. Brandon was careful when he wai because he was afraid he was going to rip the shirt.

My fault. I fed the boy too well. Hahahaha.

As for my wedding costume, mom brought the one she wore at her own wedding. She did, thank goodness, bring a brand new blouse and Paa Toong (sarong skirt) just in case hers didn’t fit.

Holy moly skinny mama!! Hahaha!

The only original piece from mom’s wedding costume I could wear was the Sa-Bai (sash)! I could barely squeeze into her shirt. And forget about the Paa Toong!! I have too much butt for that thing. Gosh. My mom was a stick back then!!

Many of the Aunties, my mom’s friends, sent along their wedding presents in a form of supporting wedding items. Our wedding rings were a gift from an Aunty. Our wedding favors were also a gift: the Lai Kram (blue and white) ceramic Paan (a tray with stem) with our names and the wedding date on them. Some jewelry I wore that day were also gifts.

That is one key thing that distinguishes Thai wedding from American: the gifts. Americans have a registry, pretty much a wish list of what they’d like as gifts from their guests. These items are usually fine china, glasses, pots and pans, linens, and other household items for the couple to start their lives together. Thais, by nature humble people, don’t ask for gifts. People would come to the wedding with envelopes of checks, gift certificates, or cash. Some people do give gifts of jewelry, gold especially. In Thailand, a hunk of gold bracelet is as good as cash. Take it in to a gold merchant, and voila. Although, the idea of that is for the bride to enjoy the jewelry and when the time gets really tough, she can sell them.

We didn’t have a registry. It did throw some people off. But our bridesmaids, groomsmen, and parents were instructed to let folks know we like to shop at certain stores. Although we ended up with a lot of standard wedding gifts (vases, George Foreman grill, etc.), we also had plenty of gift certificates and cash as well.

Back to the preparation for the Thai wedding. Once everything was in place and mom arrived, Aunty Tim took Brandon, myself, and mom up to Wat Thai to speak with the monk and the florist/cultural coordinator lady, and to do a mini rehearsal of the day. Since our guests would be consisted of mainly farangs, we wanted to make sure someone would be there to do a play-by-play translation. We were assured there would be someone there.

The day came. No such person materialized. But we’ll get to that in the next installment.

Brandon was taught to graab (prostrate), and we rehearsed the progression of the ceremony. First, we pray at the Buddha. Then we graab our parents and our senior guests. (Oh yes, senior honored guests or “Puu Yai”, meaning literally adult, but in this case the elders.) Then we’d go up to the monks. Wait. Or was that the other way around. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Someone would be guiding us through the ceremony.

Oh, and what a ceremony it was!

To be continued…

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