I have been here in Georgia for a little while now, but there has been one thing that has eluded me. All my friends took part early and often it seemed. People promised me all the time that I could join them in the next one they attended, but it never panned out. So when my host mother at dinner one night asked, after making sure she said the right day of the week- Tuesday- in English, “My cousin is getting married. Do you want to come?” I literally jumped for joy.
For those of you that know me, you know that there is NOTHING that I enjoy more than a good wedding. And I have heard nothing but epic things about Georgian weddings. Finally I got to go to one.
She politely asked me to dress nice and shave. No worries, Natia! Weddings for me means, GAME TIME! I brought a suit to Georgia specifically for this purpose and shaved and cut my hair the day before.
The wedding didn’t start until 6 pm. (And is wasn’t actually the wedding we were invited to, but the reception. Which was fine by me.) But I wouldn’t be able to go home and change right before. My co-teacher, Elene wanted me to assist her with a training presentation. So I had to walk through town with my suit on. It makes me self-conscious for some reason to be the only one dressed up. It just made for one more thing the Georgians stared at me for.
Got to the venue which was a restaurant near my last host home. And people were milling about. As soon as I got there and saw all the people hanging around outside, I realize what I walked into. The old ‘let them wait outside for hours’ trick. Ugh. After an hour or so of standing, Natia decided it was enough and took me inside to sit. The tables were still being prepared. There were rows and rows of tables. As I walked in, the intense stares continued. Natia introduced me to some of her family members. And we all sat together. Finally the doors were thrown open and the rest of the guests poured into the restaurant. Actually it was more like a banquet hall.
When it was time to eat, I remembered that although the table was full of food, there would be much, much more coming, so I paced myself. After everyone had enough time to eat a little something, the toasts and drinking started. The tamada was up front on a microphone… which was a little impersonal, but again, there were soo many people.
The food was basic Georgian food, with the exception of a few meat dishes.
In between toast’s, the DJ was hard at work. I had witnessed a famous Georgian dance called –appropriately – ‘the Wedding Dance’ at the dance performances I had attended in town. (I will try to find a video of one). But it took on a whole different context in the correct environment. The dance is such that the bride is dancing around with what looks like quick baby, shuffle steps. When she stops, the groom comes from across the dance floor to get next to her. He is also doing minute quick kicks as he goes. When they are together, they do not dance together or even touch. They don’t touch the entire song. Instead, she shuffles around and across the dance floor and he shuffles and baby kicks behind her as in a chase. After typing this, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s actually a very beautiful dance. Everyone knows it and have seen it a thousand times. But still, they love it and its tradition to perform it. (I have included a video of the dance at the bottom of this post. Its another wedding however and not the one I am writing about.)
I could tell that the bride loved to dance. She was trying to get on the dance floor every chance she could. The DJ played a good mix of contemporary and traditional music. And lots of people were ready to dance. My favorite part of the evening is when the DJ played an absolute favorite… a total crowd pleaser. Equivalent to ‘Living on a Prayer” at weddings back in the States. He played an Adjarian song for Adjarian dancing. The bride and groom took to the dance floor first. They both did well. The groom was tall and thin, great body type for this style of dancing. And wedding dresses are perfect as well. But the dance is physically taxing. So all the guests knew they could not sustain for the entire song. And as soon as they walked off the dance floor, the other guests flooded into the open spaces and started dancing so hard I thought someone was going to get hurt. It was soo fun!
I cant just run onto the dance floor… in most occasions. Like at weddings where I hardly know anyone. But I took a chance after a couple of songs. (Liquid courage). As soon as I got on the dance floor, the Georgians surrounded me to dance with them. They were in my face and spinning me around to dance with others. It’s as if they were waiting on me to come dance. As soon as that song ended (and other toast ensued), they dragged me off to their table for more drinking. The first time, my host family let it slide and I was able to go off and join them. But the second, third and fourth times, my host dad got up and literally told the other people that I could not go drink with them. After a while he had Giorgi follow me around.
Every dance song they came to get me out of my chair. It was soo much fun!
After a while, it was time to go. We walked home in the drizzling rain. Great wedding!
“Is it the look in your eyes,
Or is it this dancing juice?
Who cares baby,
I think I wanna marry you.”
Marry You, Bruno Mars