Little background first. Roughly 16 months ago I disembarked at Zvardnots Airport and spent the first 2 ½ months with a host family who, if you have read half an entry, you’ll know the importance of them to me. That being said, established, it goes with out saying that my first participation in an Armenian wedding, also their family’s first, was long overdue. Recently, their oldest son was married to a lovely young lady from a nearby village. They had been dating since before I arrived, if not mistaken. So why the wait? Their second son is currently serving Armenia in the military, which I have not seen until the wedding last weekend and like every other member of the family, he’s equally as cool as the rest.
Literally having a weeks notice, I prepared myself by getting presents and canceling important meetings that weekend, for a much more important meeting in the village. Literally, I got the call from my host father who said that the son in the military had some time off, and it would be better before winter. So, here’s how it went; some things similar to American weddings, some things not so much.
The night prior, as you can imagine, everyone is in panic mode, running around doing what they do; arranging flowers, candy, preparing food, ironing cloths, etc., etc. Then eventually everyone taps out around 4 am. Then at around 9 or 10 am the next morning, cars are decorated, the stairwells, and the long kitchen table in preparation for the bride’s family and close relatives. So, it begins. Dancing and singing start at the top floor outside the grooms bedroom, and moves downstairs and folks load up into cars and drive honking their horns as much as possible until we arrive at the bride’s house, where more singing and dancing occurs. After arrival folks enter the bedroom of the bride and begin to lavish her with jewelry and perfume, etc.., etc.. Enter the groom. They kiss and people congratulate them, and leave a couple and celebrate around tables with good food and drink at her place.
From the bride’s house, everyone hauled back to the groom’s house. This time I’m crammed into a bus standing in the back due to the influx in guests. Again, honking their car horns the entire way back at a speed of 10 km/hour. Arriving back at the groom’s house, some ceremonial thing is done with lavash and wine or cognac (can’t remember). Then they proceed back to the groom’s bedroom where more congratulating is done. Singing and dancing continues. The whole time the best man is carrying around this thing made from a wooden skewer with three apples poked through it and, and toothpicks sticking out of the apples with candy attached to the ends of the toothpicks. Finally, someone explained that this symbolizes fertility and the candy symbolizing “Let every thing be sweet!”
What follows after is kind of standard, so I’ll be brief.
Cars loaded up, and it’s off to the church for the whole religious part. Nice ceremony, would have had time to understand what exactly the priest was saying if my host mom wasn’t ushering me around telling to take a photo of this and that. After exiting the holy edifice, doves are released and people threw flowers up in the air. Very nice. After this, we drove around for a little bit taking photos at different locations in town and then head straight to the restaurant. I know what you’re thinking, this is where the clear liquid death starts flowing and folks flop to the floor. Not so fast. Not a soul was drunk during the time at the restaurant. Believe me, you think you’re surprised. Actually, one fellow was, but that was it. This was explained to me very clearly the day before. I didn’t believe it, but it actually turned out to be true.
At the restaurant there was a DJ and a shit ton of dancing and eating and gift giving. Like at every other wedding, everyone is exhausted at the end of the night, but someone has to cleanup and take home the unopened bottles of adult beverage and properly dispose of them the best way they see fit. Remember that little unspoken rule I mentioned about during the restaurant – everyone stays sober – well that was lifted immediately once we got back home and made up for the lost time.