Our big fat Polynesian wedding (part III)

The wedding day
As if three simultaneous weddings were not enough, each of us brides and grooms had six attendants, so including our chaperons and flower-girls we were 54 people in the wedding party!

The grooms side of the wedding party processed to meet the brides and their attendants, then we all set off to Avera (Viriamu's village) for the civil and religious ceremonies.

The ceremonies were pretty short and sweet. (Viriamu and I didn't get married at the mayors office, because earlier, upon inquiring what documents I needed to get married there being a non-French citizen, they told me that they would not be able to marry a non-French citizen and that maybe I should first seek French citizenship!!!! Fortunately the mayor in Moorea was able to help us out....)

The absolute highlight of the day for me was our arrival at the reception on horseback, complete with conch-blowing horsemen and drummers. Traditionally all the couples would have arrived on horseback followed by each pair of groomsmen and maids of honor (each on horseback, so for us that would have been >21 horses), which must have been quite a sight to behold! Now I understand why it's just once in a generation....

At the reception we had our own private Tahitian(or Rurutu) dance show and lots of food (check out the cakes), which was good because there were LOTs of guests!


Our big fat Polynesian wedding (part II)

The first part of the wedding, the 'umuai', involves all the children and is a gift giving ceremony - at the end the gifts are divided up between the children. This made up the first three days of our wedding. Every family in Rurutu had to present gifts to our family, each in their turn, it goes by order of relatedness, so the closest family come in right at the end, and the generosity of gifts is also related to family ties. The gifts include absolutely everything: from pigs, taro, sugar, sacks of flour, frozen chicken-pieces, plastic-wares, fridge-freezers, beds, linens and Pandanus mats......

each of the couples getting married also gets a new outfit of clothing each time a family visits (here are just a few of them).

Basically we all got to dress up 25 times over three days. Let me tell you I got some pretty magnificent outfits, Matotea has dress-up for the rest of her life! Because everyone was told that I had just had a baby most of the clothes that were made for me were somewhat on the ample side, so I also have Polynesian maternity clothes for the next time.....

Then, once we, the couples, are suitably dolled up, we are paraded outside to sit in front of our mountain of gifts in our new finery, an 'orero' (orator) for each family recites the family ties between our family and their own and thanks everybody (and believe me there are a lot of people involved), then our 'orero' gets up and thanks them and we all get to dance around a bit, whilst being sprinkled with perfume and talc (not sure where the talc idea came from, but the general idea is to make us smell nice, though three days of this can get a bit much, not to mention causing respiratory problems!!!).

Afterwards the whole of the visiting family has to be fed by us...so in fact a lot of the food that we received as gifts when straight into the Tahitian oven and back out to all our visitors.........

Words can't really adequately describe how crazy this whole thing was, so I hope the pictures give you a taster. Here my family and friends watch dumbstruck!


Our big fat Polynesian wedding (part I)

In December 2006, we did the traditional Rurutu wedding, all 4 days of it!
It was quite an interesting experience - on Rurutu traditional marriages happen just once a generation, and it's actually more about paying your respects to the parents of the grooms than to us the couples - I say grooms because all the boys get married at the same time. So we were part of a three couple extravaganza. Viriamu is actually one of seven children, five boys and two girls, two of his brothers are still single and so they weren't forced to get married, though traditionally the weddings would have been arranged for them, from an early age. The photos from the marriage are in the next two blog entries. Here I want to say a few words of thanks to my friends and family who made the long trip to Rurutu to be there for our wedding. How lucky I am to have had so many wonderful people there for us!

In particular I want to thank my six superstar maids of honour - I'm so glad that you could all be there to share the experience.....

And it was quite an experience - we even made the newspaper (Tahiti's La Depeche), granted it was the Boxing day edition and so they didn't have too much else to report, but all the same it was a colour spread!