So now that you know that Worchihan, his family and his villagers were 100% responsible for the preparations for our wedding, let’s move on to the wedding. Which was INCREDIBLE, a word that actually means unbelievable, not amazing, but it was that too.
If I had known what our wedding was going to be like (I didn’t really because Worchihan left for our wedding more than a month before me to prepare and the internet in his village is terrible), I would have invited National Geographic (is it too late, NG?). It was beyond words, so we’ll show you plenty of pictures. (All photos were taken by Wren Raleng — thank you, Wren!)
The photographer took quite a few spontaneous pictures before the wedding, including this one of Worchihan, his parents and his younger brother Rammayon (who is actually getting married next week!). How good is it!?! He also got a really good shot of Worchihan’s grandmother (on the left) and her friends.
A few minutes before nine o’clock on the morning of April 14, 2016, Worchihan and I walked together to the mountaintop where our wedding was held, followed by our friends and family.
In Tangkhul tradition, the groom’s male relatives walk down the aisle behind him. I love these pictures, because they show how many men helped raise him and will always support him. Worchihan and I each chose a song we wanted to walk down the aisle to; Worchihan chose “How Great Thou Art.”
Because both of Worchihan’s parents walked him down the aisle and because I wanted my mom to participate in the wedding, I asked my mom and my dad to walk me down the aisle. We walked down the aisle to “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I could do nothing but smile all the way down the aisle.
The weather on our wedding day was perfect: warm, but not hot. We were all in the sun, but the wedding wasn’t too long, so it wasn’t uncomfortable. A rogue bee buzzed around me for a few minutes and I did get a little bit of a sunburn, but that was a small price to pay for such a beautiful wedding.
Three of my friends came from Bangkok to be my bridesmaids. One of Worchihan’s friends came from Chiang Mai to be his groomsman; the other two were his cousin and his brother. Worchihan’s parents asked the pastor of Union Baptist Church in Ukhrul, a town about an hour and a half from the village, to serve as the officiant. I never thought I would meet the pastor who did my wedding at my wedding!
Much of the ceremony was in Tangkhul, the language of Worchihan’s tribe, as most of the villagers don’t speak English. It’s funny to me that this didn’t bother me at all. Whatever needed to be in English was in English, like the vows and the exchanging of rings.
The men and women who attended our wedding sat on different sides of the aisle, according to Tangkhul tradition.
During the ceremony, our photographer went up on the hill behind our venue to get this shot.
Our wedding was a blur — they all are, right? — but I will never forget the moment the pastor prayed for us because HIS PHONE RANG for at least an entire minute during the prayer.
Another cool thing about Tangkhul weddings is the blessing both sets of parents and other family members give at the end. Worchihan’s parents came up first and then my parents, followed by his grandfather (mother’s father) and his grandmother (father’s mother). I love how this honors our parents and grandparents for everything they’ve given us and done for us.
During the ceremony, our parents sat together at the front, which I thought was very sweet.
At the end of the wedding, Worchihan was given a pashi, the headpiece he is wearing in the picture below, by the eldest Zingkhai male. For many Nagas, the pashi symbolizes victory and manhood and is worn only at special events.
After the wedding, our guests ate lunch and we took pictures for maybe 30 minutes, though I had no list of what pictures I wanted like you (and I) might have expected.
After lunch, which Worchihan and I didn’t eat, was the presentation. The presentation involves the bride and groom giving gifts to their relatives to express their appreciation. At the beginning of the presentation, some of the villagers danced and sang traditional Tangkhul songs. The women even wrote a song for us, which was a thoughtful and humbling gift.
After the presentation, Worchihan and his family walked back to his house to wait for me and his female relatives and villagers who escorted me. Before I left for his house, I was given the necklace, made from river stones, that Worchihan’s mom was given by her parents when she got married. That was a huge honor for me. If Worchihan and I have a daughter, we will pass the necklace down to her when she gets married.
I also carried a basket on my head (you can see the strap in the picture below). Inside the basket was a traditional wraparound skirt (similar to the ones I wore for the wedding and the presentation) and a traditional shawl, which is more like a blanket. I also wore 2 small shawls and carried a spear.
The basket represents the responsibility I took on as a wife and future mother by getting married. The spear is a traditional Tangkhul weapon. I was given a women’s spear and Worchihan was given a men’s spear.
In Tangkhul culture, the groom and his family welcome the bride to their house, symbolizing her new life as a wife and as someone who bears responsibility for the household.
After everything was over, our photographer caught this moment. If you know my mom, you know she is often the life of the party, even in the village.
Worchihan and I are grateful to everyone who helped make our wedding so memorable. We are grateful to our parents for their love and support, to our families and to Hannah, Deb, Deanna and Scott for coming from Thailand to be in our wedding. We are grateful to everyone who came and celebrated with us.
And Worchihan, thank you. I never really thought too much about what my wedding would be like so I for sure had no idea it could be so beautiful. In a world where the bride often does most of the work, you took it on and you put your whole heart into it. (Maybe it’s time to consider a career as a Naga wedding planner?) I love you.