What is a fairy-tail wedding? It usually involves a beautiful white dress, a charming and handsome prince, a horse-drawn carriage, and a kingdom. Does that sound about right? I think so. I wouldn’t say that any place can have a fairy-tail wedding anymore- except maybe the British. Georgia has some traditions similar to those in American culture and some very unusual ones, at least in my experience.
I have yet to actually attend a wedding in Georgia, but I have watched the wedding video of my first host families oldest daughter, as well as observed a number of wedding “processions”. The wedding video is something that all couples make and the video is literally the entire time- which is hours during the ceremony, the to and from locations, the supra after-wards, and anything else that the couple or family wants to be captured on film.
Georgian brides have their choice of fancy white wedding dresses that are all the rage in the rest of the world. The ones I have seen range from elegant to over the top (of course that is always a matter of taste and Georgian wedding dresses tend to be a bit on the tacky side in my opinion). On my walk to school I pass a wedding dress boutique and the one time I visited Samtreba in Tbilisi (the newest and largest cathedl), there were literally lines of bride and groom couples waiting to get married.
I mentioned above the wedding “processions”. I do not mean the walk down the isle by the wedding party and then the father giving the bride away. From what I understand, the father does not give away the bride at the wedding. Instead the bride and groom walk the isle together. No, by wedding procession I mean how the entire familial group gets from point A to point B. Point A starts with meeting the video crew, continues to pick everyone up, goes to the church and then the wedding reception. This quickly becomes a long string of cars that can be fifteen cars long. And they are all honking. Honking. Honking. And blaring music. Oh, and it is being filmed by a guy hanging out the window or sunroof, depending on the type of vehicle. Of course the whole procession is doing whatever it can to not get separated, breaking all sorts of driving laws that they might have followed otherwise (stress on the might). While it is nice to see people proclaiming their happiness and joy, it is at first startling to have a line of cars honking constantly while passing. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I do not know of any other procession of cars being a part of the ceremony. Honestly, the only times I can remember seeing strings of cars is for a funeral. Very different situations.
The next is the church. The couple can be lucky and have the church to themselves for the ceremony, or they can be in a mixed crowd of tourists, normal church goers, and other couples waiting to be married (like in Samtreba). Something cool I have noticed about the ceremony is that the couple wears crowns. I do not fully understand the significance of the crowns, but they add a romantically traditional and medieval aspect to the ceremony. I wouldn’t mind a crown on my wedding- not a tiara, but an actual crown.
Anyway, so that is all that I could notice about the ceremony from the video. Per usual there is a celebration after for people who could not attend the ceremony. From what I’ve seen in aforementioned video and heard from other volunteers, the supra is a huge affair that lasts for hours. There is tamada, who is constantly toasting and narrating. There is singing. And there is lots of dancing. And by dancing I mean mostly traditional Georgian dancing with men jumping, kicking, spinning, and other cool moves that kind of make you wish American men could move like that. The women, despite not having as flashy moves as the men, are not to be out-shined in the dancing and circle the dance floor as if floating on air. Incredibly elegant. This is also done while most everyone is drinking excessively.
Just the other day there was a wedding procession that started right outside of my host families flat (the honking of the cars is what made us aware of its presence). My host mother, both host sisters and I stood on the balcony to catch a glimpse of the bride. As is Georgians tendencies, we ended up waiting for over twenty minutes to see the bride. Her dress was nice from the little I could see. I commented to my host mother that it was a “lamaze kaba” (pretty dress). Her reply was to tell me if I wanted such a pretty dress, I would need to find a Georgian husband and get married in Georgia. I tend to tell her that I have an American boy. She usually chuckles when I say this. I did not realize why until today. I have been using the incorrect form of “to have”. There is a “to have” for animate objects and one for inanimate objects. I had been using the inanimate “to have” in reference to my boyfriend…ooops. Now I know why she chuckles whenever I say I have an American boy.
I use the phrase “American boy” because there is no translation for boyfriend. The choices in Georgian to denote a person you are in a relationship with is a) husband or b) lover. These two choices have lead to some very funny questions from students. I was at first besieged with the question about whether or not I have a “lover”. Haha. Oh the things that are lost on non- native speakers.