Just in case any of you thought I had fled the scene and disappeared to write for another blogsite, yours in name is back, after ‘Getting Married…in Thailand’.
Don’t get me wrong, this is the first time that I have ‘properly’ tied the knot and even though it wasn’t exactly the biggest ceremony/party of the year every thing went perfectly as planned….urgh..huh-NOT! Now, there are a few rather important days in ones life when ‘getting up on time’ takes upmost priority and the day of ones marriage really ought to be one of those!
On the night before the ceremony here in Suphanburi I had it all planned, get to bed early, get up in the wee hours of the morning, sink a couple of coffees, take a decent lengthy shower and there you have it…one frivolously fresh-bridegroom smelling like Leonardo Di Caprio, ready and waiting for his ever-eager bride. Well, that is what did not happen on my certain morning! Having spent an hour or so in me warm bed waiting for sleep to come I soon gave up and decided that a walk outside to calm the old nerves was highly needed. But chance prevailed and I bumped into a few friends from here in Suphanburi right opposite my school who would accept little else but the company of a certain groom for a chit-chat before the big day. That was it, I was sat with them for the next couple of hours and ended up getting to bed at something like one in the morning.
Nevermind, I had the alarm set for 4:30 and the school passenger van was to pick me up at just after 6 to escort me and the school director etc.. to my wife’s sister’s house for the ceremony a hundred kilometres away in northern Bangkok. All was planned to begin at around 8:30. Believe it or not, me darned alarm clock decided to throw a frenzy, pass-out and not bother going off at all. I woke up in complete horror at something like 2 minutes to 6. What a lousy start to my performance! I had a mere quarter of an hour to doll myself up. If memory serves me right I was still sticking gel in me hair on the tollway to Bangkok.
Now, if you get married in Thailand a ‘Phu Yai’ is essential, second only to the cash. If you are wondering who or what a Phu Yai is, he/she has to be the bridegroom’s elder/guarantor whose job it is to speak on behalf of him at both the ceremony in the morning and the party in the evening. Something along the lines of “The bridegroom is a fine man, works hard, loves the bride to bits, realizes the meaning of the word ‘responsibilty’ and finally, even though he picks his nose and is a bit of a flirt – he is still one of the sincerest men walking the streets today”. Well, my Phu Yai for the special day was a good friend and actual boss of mine, the school director, who had, unlike the actual bridegroom, woken up at a respectable time in the morning and was not found brushing his teeth at the nearest pump station from the bride’s gaff ten minutes before a marriage.
The dowry laid out on a mat ready to be inspected
So, we got to the front of her ‘soi’ at around 8:15 just in time for the procession and it was time for the bridegroom to splash some cash as he passed through a few ceremonial gates and ascend the stairs of the house to where the bride-to-be and of course – her mother, were sat waiting for the not so groovy-looking groom. Really, I didn’t have much of a clue to what the proceedings were to getting married and just when I thought the ceremony was just about over I was told by the bride “We are engaged now, it’s time for the marriage ceremony downstairs”. I hadn’t realized before that the time difference between getting engaged and actually getting married in Thailand is something like…..ten minutes.
For some strange reason, her family didn’t see the need for a set of monks to give their blessing and instead all the holy water etc… had been provided beforehand by the abbot from the temple down the road. When I had asked before to the reason behind no monks at the ceremony I was given a decent excuse along the lines of “We will be getting married Chinese-style, that’s how things have always run in our family”. Though I wasn’t totally convinced by this, I was however pretty chuffed at the ‘saving money’ aspect. Having to fetch a set of monks from the temple, dish up a fine breakfast and afford them handsome cash donations isn’t exactly the cheapest venture, especially in Bangkok.
Then I can remember the morning ceremony i went to once at a friend’s wedding up there in Singburi a few years back. When the chief monk was affording his blessing half the other monks were asleep behind their fans while another was listening to his walkman.
‘In the morning, the bride and a few friends’
After the marriage blessing ceremony had started at the auspicious time of 9:09 is was all over before I knew it. Looking rather fresher in the face by this time, what with having to constantly smile at the camera for the previous hour or so it was time to take the 35 or so guests out to breakfast. I don’t think i ever had to pick up a tab for 35 folks before and some guests, enjoying the genrosity of the groom, had over ordered and were seen walking out to their cars with piggy-bags of grilled chicken and prawn. While the guests were wishing the bride and myself to the likes of “See you this evening at the party and no hanky-panky in the meantime” I was soon distraught and red in the face when I found out to my disbelief that I had left my wallet back at the house! Pretty embarassing having to ask the bride to cough up the six thousand baht for the bill. Surprised she even had that much on her.
Well, it wasn’t much of a rest period before the bride was down at the so-called studio having her face and hair made-up while I went for a walk, read the newspaper and ordered a scoffingly-big pizza. Well, the make-up woman had decided to do such a meticulous job on the bride that the loving-couple were soon on the way to arriving late for their own wedding reception! Since the bride’s late dad used to be an army officer it was thought respectably fit to hold the party at an army camp up there on Phaholyothin Road. The camp was so huge however, that it took us 15 minutes in a taxi driving around before we managed to find ‘our’ building. Then, the soldiers in charge, hadn’t bothered to inform us beforehand that there were to be another couple of ‘massive’ army parties going on simultaneously just across from ours.
Deja-vu, and I and the bride, after getting stuck at the traffic lights for 20 minutes were troddling along, late once again. In fact, we weren’t really that late as the party was scheduled for 6:30 (18:29) but on arriving at 6 o’clock I witnessed a whole bunch of 20 or so guests who had not been stuck in the traffic and arrived to the ball perfectly before time. Can’t imagine what they thought of meself and me bride not-so eloquently rolling outta some beaten-up shabby-old taxi.
And the groom himself with the ever-handsome…Mr Gor
Well, the guests started arriving but since I hadn’t the foggiest to who most of them were my only job was stand there and have me foto taken with a whole stack-a different folk who were all from me bride’s side. Due to orders given by the director of the school I personally handed out around 50+ invitations to a host of the teachers there but since it was the school holiday only something like a third of them actually bothered showing up, but who can blame them for not having the energy to travel to a wedding in Bangkok. In fact, most of me friends and colleagues up here in Suphanburi had told me beforehand they weren’t coming for some reason or another but had been generous in passing on some cash donation, thus helping me financially afford such saga.
Thais just love a few things and besides just eating papaya-bok-bok and watching game shows it has to be ‘having yer foto taken’. Now, standing up and having yer foto taken for say a couple of hours isn’t really that much of a long stretch but it darned well is if your wearing a brand-new pair of leather shoes. I knew my new pair of loafers didn’t exactly fit that well but being the tight Farang I am I just couldn’t help falling for a pair that were on sale the week before at The Mall Bangkapi scoring an 80% discount. Serves me right, I was half wobbling around the place, my feet killing me, before I had even done ‘my bit’ on stage.
I had only been to about two ‘City-type’ Thai weddings before but since the grooms on both occasions were Farangs who spoke little Thai, they were not asked to go put on some kinda scenario on the stage. As for me, I had little such luck and I was soon right up there on the stage with the bride and our elders telling the earful audience all our personal behind-the-scenes ‘ins and outs’ before having to give a bit of a speech myself. I was caught completely off guard by a couple of questions asked but a few ‘make-up-on-the-spot’ jokes of mine went down surprisingly well. Next, (prepared for this one!) it was me turn to sing-a-song for the bride. Not being a native speaker of the language, any song in a foreign langauge can be pretty tricky but since me bride had seen me pull off a couple of renditions of Thai songs down at some local karaoke joint down the road she thought it politically correct to have me sing an extremely daunting Thai Country Music song. Even the Thais will tell you that a lotta Thais can’t even sing this style of song so you could have imagined the shock on the face of a few of the spectators witnessing a Farang trying to pull the stunt off. I had mezmorized it all somewhat but was lost for lyrics when a few of the guests came up to hand me a flower of appreciation.
Unlike in the rural area where Thai-style parties can go on for days, Bangkok-style wedding parties don’t exactly last that long and by ten-thirty me and the bride were being chauffer driven to our fancy hotel room for the night. Sure, it was all a very happy day, a few ups and downs but managed to survive it all, well intact. Hope you enjoyed the read, it wasn’t my finest bit of written work on record but I do hope you got the jist.
Just arrived back from a Honeymoon in Singapore, ‘The Land of Chilli Crabs, Cut-throat Costly Beers and Clean Bogs’. Perhaps, I’ll write a blog about that place next!
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