Danie was shocked. ‘I only left Australia yesterday, and you’ve already bought your dress? What are you going to do for the rest of the year?’ My dad thought I was crazy. ‘You’re probably going to change dress size before next year now that you’re back in Australia.’ My five bridesmaids were nervous. ‘What if one of the other bridesmaids gets pregnant before then?’ I explained to all that it wasn’t a problem. I’d chosen dresses with a corset back so we could lace them up as tightly or as loosely as we needed. And there were plenty of other non-wedding related things for me to do while I waited for the big day, such as relax and wait for my organisation to pay off.
In the following months, as Danie and I discussed the completely organised nuptials, the clasp on Pandora's wedding box gave a little pop. While we were living in Japan, we'd felt so culturally similar that it was as if we’d grown up on the same street. But now we were back in our own countries and planning a wedding, the differences in our backgrounds began to emerge. The people in our street had been going to different weddings.
Danie asked me what the table at the front of the wedding ceremony was for and the lid on Pandora's wedding box creaked open. I told him the table was where we would sign the marriage documents. Danie was confused. ‘Why would we bore our guests with admin tasks during our wedding?’ He'd never been to a wedding in South Africa where this was done.
Once the lid was open, other differences began to pop out. In Danie's street, it is apparently traditional to heckle the groom during the speeches. In my street, heckling is a risky business and would almost certainly result in a death stare from the bride.
In Australia, the bridesmaids in their beautiful dresses and groomsmen with their lapel flowers sit on display at the bridal table. In South Africa, the parents of the couple sit up the front at the bridal table. If there is not enough room, the bridesmaids and groomsmen get bumped off the table and relegated to the crowd. How do you choose between the bridal party and the in-laws?
Then the lid of the box flew right open. I found out that in South Africa the guests get to choose their main course from a selection of several options. In Australia, we usually have alternate service. This means every second person gets a dried up piece of chicken, and every other person gets a juicy steak. The waiters serve the food then run for it before the room erupts in a flurry of food envy and plate swapping.
|This is what an Aussie wedding guest looks like if they get the dried up chicken instead of the juicy steak.|
Image by doc. License restrictions apply.