At the entry, big signs announce the event, and the family and some village elders line up to welcome the guest. A heart shaped box to receive the donations (guests use the envelope with their invitation to donate some money towards the cost of the party).
The guests started arriving, many of them colleagues of the groom (He is a local police officer).
Uncles and aunts and cousins from town and villages, some arriving by motorcycle, some by tuk tuk or private truck. They slowly start filling up the many tables, and start eating and drinking. After most guests have arrived, the welcoming party lines up in a half circle under the parachute, for formal photographs.
This causes a bit of confusion, since I am the photographer and Khamsouk insists that Dolly and I as ‘adopted grandparents’ join the family group for the photographs.Note that the central spave for this which will later be used for dancing, is a big parachute, decorated with banana leaves and balloons. The parachute is to keep the sun off the dancers, and still provide some light.
Since it is a half circle of about 25 people, this turns out a bit odd anyway.
That out of the way, the band starts and the newly wed couple have the first dance, soon joined by many others.
The main dance style at these occasions is the Lam Wong. To an outsider, it looks like two people dancing together trying hard not to touch each other or look at each other, waving their arms a bit, but as sedately as possible, walking slowly in a circle, looking far away. Not very expressive in my opinion, but that’s how it is.
After a while, the groom and bride start doing the rounds, The bride carries a tray with two tiny cups, the groom fills them with whiskey (Johnny Walker), and offers them to each guest. The guest may take the opportunity to put a few banknotes on the tray, then, bottoms up!
This ceremonial round takes over an hour, during which the guests dance, drink and eat.
A few hours into the party, it is found that instead of 300 expected guests, about 400 have turned up, and the beer is running low. Uncle who owned the ‘restaurant’ where I had lunch last month (See the post about having lunch with a policeman etc) offers to buy half a dozen crates of beer, and we join in and also add half a dozen more, the party rolls on.
I get a chance to dance with the bride, and get poured some more lao lao, washed down with beer. It is now after three in the afternoon, I know the hard line party goers will continue until the last drop of alcohol is gone, probably after dark, but I know I still have to ride our motorbike home, and consider it safer to leave at this stage.
Next morning, we receive an urgent phone call to invite us to the after wedding party, which is another food and drink function in the village, especially for all the volunteers who cooked and worked for the wedding. We are partied out and only stay an hour or two. But the photographs were appreciated by all.