I just got back to Nepal after a whirlwind two-week trip back to the US for my brother’s wedding. The 80+ hours spent in airplanes and airports was well worth the fabulous visit with my friends in San Francisco and the wonderful family time and wedding celebrations in Virginia.
In the spirit of my brother’s wedding, I thought I would do a post about weddings—both American and Nepali. I am definitely more of an expert on American weddings (I guess I am at the age where everyone I know is getting married—I should be the star of the sequel to the movie 27 Dresses), but I will do my best to show to the similarities and differences based on my experiences as a guest at both.
Back in December I was able to go to a good friend’s cousin’s wedding here in Nepal. His family is Newar, which is an ethnic group here in Nepal that is mainly in the Kathmandu Valley. Weddings in Nepal are celebrated over several days with different ceremonies and parties. This is similar in America if you add up all the events leading up to the wedding, but in general, people see the wedding celebration as the one big day.
Much like in America, family members and close friends are in attendance at Nepali weddings, but unlike in America, the guest list is not as strict and friends of friends of friends are often times in the crowd as well. I guess that explains how I was able to go to a wedding of someone I have never met before!
At the wedding in Nepal, I only attended one of the celebration events; whereas, for my brother’s wedding I was able to attend all of the events leading up to the big day; including the bachelorette party, bbq at my parent’s house and the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner.
I can’t say what all weddings in Nepal are like, but at this particular one, it almost felt like I was in a crowd of paparazzi. The small room was crammed with as many people that could fit; everyone standing on chairs so they could see, with a camera in hand.
The guests at my brother’s wedding were a bit more organized (sitting in a large church with pews probably makes that easier) but after the wedding everyone crowded outside to watch the bride and groom exit (our version of the “paparazzi”).
At my brother’s wedding, we had only one videographer (which the position was kindly filled by my friend and “date” for the day, Megan), but at the wedding in Kathmandu, there were at least 3.
Of course, one of the things I love about weddings is the fashion—which of course is different in both countries.
The dress (both in everyday life and at weddings) is the most similar between the two countries for men. At the Nepali wedding his suit had the added the flair of a wedding topi (hat) and ceremonial pieces. Of course when it comes to the bride, there lies the most differences. In Nepal, the traditional wedding color for women is red. The bride had similar ceremonial accessories as well as glass bangles and the traditional wedding beads.
At my brother’s wedding, he wore a tradional tux, which was accented by a flower boutineer. As we all know, the wedding color for brides in America is white and traditionally a veil is worn and a bouquet is carried. My sister-in-law went for simple and elegant pearls as her jewelry.
At both weddings, family participated in the event.
In Nepal, they participated by making offerings and participating in the rituals.
And at my brother’s wedding, we were half the wedding party (bridesmaids, junior bridesmaid, flower girl, groomsmen, ushers, ring bearers, singer).
In both countries, weddings come down to this:
Celebrating with family and loved ones (and of course, getting to wear beautiful clothes while you do it).