Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Kosovo: Chapter 8, Scene 1 The Wedding

 Right when I wonder what I’ll write about next, I’m invited to a wedding. An Albanian wedding for one of the night guards at our school. I was honored to be included. 

I asked my friend Jill about protocol. I wanted to know if there was a gift registry or something I should be checking. I asked about what I should do or not do at the wedding and, of particular interest to me was what I should wear.

Jill patiently walked me through each question. May I just say how wonderful it is to have friends here who have had these experiences and willing share everything they know? 

My friend and coworker, Fitim, was picking me up. The wedding started at 7:00. At first he said he would come for me at 6:30. Then 6:50. I guessed the wedding was close by. He arrived a couple of minutes after seven and we still had to pick up someone else. I asked him about the time. 

“Oh, it starts at seven which means guests can arrive between seven and eight. We don’t want to be on time because then we would be early.”


We drove for forty minutes out of town. I was a little concerned because I didn’t bring my passport and I was sure we’d be in Macedonia or Albania before too long.

We arrived later than the invitation said which turned out to be right on time. I think. 

Once seated at our table, the food started coming. Salad, and a plate of meat and cheese. Then there was a beef patty, chicken, and a beef sausage. Fruit and more salad. Colas and water and fruit juices. The food kept coming. All evening. 

It turns out there is no gift registry. Everyone does give money. I tucked mine in an envelope and slipped it in my purse. That was perfect. I was instructed to write my name on the front of the envelope and there was a box to drop it in as we arrived. 

The wedding is not so much a scripted program as it is a feast and a party. I pretty much knew what to do: Simply act as I would at an American reception. Eat, dance, visit, take pictures, eat some more, dance some more, take some more pictures. Of course the dancing is different. Most of the dance was a traditional Albanian dance I learned at the Balla. Not bad.

There had been that “what to wear” question. Jill told me to go all out. Get my hair done, do make-up, and dress to the nines. She asked if I had high heels. Uh, no. I would fall and kill myself. I wound up wearing a simple black dress, strappy black sandals, and costume jewelry I bought for the Balla. I counted going to the beauty shop last week as "getting my hair done." (If you missed it you can read about it here.) I put on my mascara and lipstick. I was ready to go. 

I'll admit I was a little concerned when I arrived. It looked like the Oscars. Women were dressed in ball gowns and looked very fancy. But as it turned out, there were women dressed as I was as well, so I was fairly comfortable. I decided to throw caution to the wind and didn’t even stop dancing after I discovered a run in my stockings!  

The bride and groom finally arrived.  

But enough rhetoric. I captured some of the wedding in pictures so I could take you along.

The bride and groom arrived.

The bride descended down one set of stairs
while the groom came down the other.

After meeting at the bottom o the staircase the couple walked through
 this "aisle of fire" to  the front of the room where  they sat in thrones.

A traditional Albanian band played their horns and drums.
There was also a live band and singer who played
during the bride's dance. Guests brought money
 and tucked in her tiara. When the groom joined her, guests
 tucked money in his jacket pocket.

I love this. There was a procession to bring these traditional
Albanian garments to the couple and then they danced
the traditional dance with the drums and horns playing.

There was one bit of protocol Jill neglected to tell me. Do Not Leave the Wedding Until the Cake is Served. Of course I know it is not fitting to leave the wedding until then. That makes sense. But by two in the morning, I wasn't all there anyway. 

There is so much more I could share. Perhaps another time. 

Suffice it to say, it was fun and beautiful and a true celebration of this couple dedicating their lives to each other. And the next time I'm invited to a wedding I may go for a little more glitz and glamour...or not.

Join me in Kosova (the Albanian pronunciation for Kosovo) in Southeastern Europe. Each week I share my experiences. Leave your comments and questions below. I’ll try to address each as best I can. And if you don't want to miss a post, simply add your email address in the box on the right where it says "Follow by email." 

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