I’m pretty sure Worchihan and I had one of the easiest weddings ever. Well, at least it was easy for me. I did ALMOST nothing.

How is that possible, you might ask? To be fair (to myself), the location determined pretty much everything — especially the fact that I wasn’t going to be a lot of help — and made the decisions easy.

When to get married? We got engaged on November 4 (Worchihan had a pretty sweet reason for asking me on this particular day) and visited Worchihan’s family in the village that Christmas. Our next shared holiday was Songkran, the 3 days + a weekend mid-April Thai new year celebration, so that was the obvious choice. When you are as old as we were when we got engaged (Worchihan was 29 and I was 30), you gotta get married. Fast.

Where to get married? There wasn’t much to consider. Before moving to Bangkok, I hadn’t lived anywhere longer than 3 years since I was 13; my parents and my brother had, like me, also left the States, so it didn’t make sense to get married there. Also, Worchihan’s family is large and wouldn’t have been able to come to the wedding if it wasn’t in his village, so his village it was and we really couldn’t have had it anywhere better. (Stay tuned for Our Wedding Part 2 for proof.)

So where exactly in the village? Village weddings are usually held in the village church (most Tangkhul villages have only one church), but Worchihan figured the church would be too small. Worchihan’s village is high up in the mountains of Manipur about 40 miles from the Burmese border — it’s all open space, fresh air, green, brown and blue. There’s a mountaintop a couple minutes’ walk from Worchihan’s house and this is the place he chose to marry me. (Sometimes I ask him why he wanted to marry ME — sometimes I think even I wouldn’t have wanted to marry me. But moving on.)

What to wear? Considering I’d never wanted to wear the traditional white dress, it was never in the closet running. I love the (mostly) red traditional Tangkhul kashan (heavy wraparound skirt) that Tangkhul women have traditionally worn when they get married (though few wear them now) and I knew Worchihan’s mom would appreciate my wearing it. Add a white shirt, my favorite sandals from Woolworth’s in South Africa and DONE!

Who to invite? When you get married in the village, you invite the whole village. Add in all of Worchihan’s family — he has 100 first cousins, so… I sent invitations to my family and friends because I wanted them to know I was (finally!) getting married, but I knew they wouldn’t be able to come.

What about food? The answer to that can only be buffalo. Buffalo is traditionally served at Naga weddings (this is one reason we bought a buffalo); our particular buffalo was a gift from Worchihan’s uncles. Pigs, chickens, and fish were also involved, as well as kilos and kilos of rice. And for dessert? Apples and oranges, their traditional dessert.

The photographer? Worchihan had talked to two friends, one of which would be available only if he wasn’t on a movie crew in south India. This was the only real wedding anxiety I had, but the photographer made it, and three days after the wedding, we picked up several DVDs with all our pictures and videos. ALL our pictures — no package required.

So who did all the work? Worchihan made the plans and his relatives and fellow villagers did the work. ALL the work. Let’s give CREDIT where CREDIT is due.

Loading up the logs for the base of the stage
The most handsome construction worker I’ve ever seen
The women collecting dry grass from the forest
Lining the perimeter with the dry grass
The stones were collected from the river and then spray painted before being hung
These girls dug up these flowers from the forest and wiped them with oil before replanting them in front of the stage
Drying the rice in the sun
Have you ever been to a meat-cooking party? Without a grill??
Cooking the meat
In the village, you can’t eat anything without chilies
This is the ingenious hand-washing station — just a bamboo shoot with holes

The villagers are incredibly hardworking and incredibly generous. There’s no way Worchihan’s family could have done this on their own. Would you believe that this is how all village events are brought to life? This is actually common practice in the village, which I think I can learn something from, number 1 being that maybe it’s time to move to the village!

Part 2 — our actual wedding — is coming soon!

*Special thanks to Worchihan’s relatives and fellow villagers for giving us a wedding of dreams

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