Well, here we are, no longer "Pae and Guy" the girlfriend/boyfriend couple. We are now officially "Pae and Guy" the married couple!I'm not going to go on and on about the ceremony too much, or our history as a couple, rather I wanted to mostly thank our family and friends for supporting us on our big day and throughout the past few years.
Dad Uda was actually able to make it to town thanks to Erin and Josh donating a bunch of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. It was great having him here for our wedding. It was especially funny when everyone kept saying that I looked older than him! Now looking at the pictures, I have to somewhat agree! Yikes! The years catch up fast! Dad and I actually talked about it and all of the wrinkles and cracks and crevices on my face and elsewhere are from all of the weight I lost in the past year or so since Pae was away in Jordan. I need a nice little layer of fat under there smoothing things out! Pae, on the other hand, always looks flawless! My favorite smile in the world!The family in Ubon worked very hard to get things ready for our wedding day. With me all the way here in Bangkok and Pae in Amman for a majority of the planning, a lot of the responsibility rested on Mom, Dad and the brothers in Ubon Ratchathani. We certainly did our share whenever Pae was in town or over email or by whatever means we had available to us, but the family really made things happen.Pae and I took care of her dress, my outfit, rings, announcements, gifts and other odds and ends. The Ubon family took care of planning the brunch that was after the ceremony, the dinner, Dad's Ubon hotel, flowers we chose together during one of our visits to Ubon. Mom and Dad did a lot of home improvement for the big day such as tiling the driveway, installing air conditioning in all of the rooms of the house, and even getting the lot across the street weeded and bushes hacked down and tents put up for the brunch. They hired pretty much anyone who needed to be hired like photog, video dude and even the little parade group band and DJ who ran karaoke later in the day.
P'Neung and P'Nut ran around for the two days of the wedding and never stopped for over 48 hours. Both of them sweat like crazy with little to no rest for the two days. They wanted to make sure their little sister had the perfect day. All of their hard work was noticed and we surely want to make sure to show our appreciation to them times a hundred.Auntie Laura and several uncles helped translate or explain things for Dad whenever we weren't around. I'm sure Dad found himself lost at times, but there was just so much going on visually, I'm sure he was just soaking a lot of it in. It was great to have the family help trying to make Dad feel comfortable, even before the wedding.
Other than me having to go for makeup unexpectedly (haha) an hour before the wedding, things were absolutely perfect! Face and hair issues aside, seriously, everything was perfect from our perspective. We do realize there were probably people running around putting out fires as they flared up, but we didn't feel any of the heat so to speak. The family did a great job, again. Thank you all!Pae looked beautiful in her traditional Thai gown. We chose it over some more colorful ones at the wedding dress shop, and she was able to make it to fittings during her flights from Amman, her days off and her through flights to Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Her hair was beautiful, fresh white flowers braided into it. She's always told me how much she loves the way Aung San Suu Kyi always wore fresh flowers in her hair, even as a prisoner in her own Myanmar home. Pae was amazingly beautiful as always!
I also wore a traditional Thai outfit with what I kept calling my "Hammer pants". They are actually called Jongkraben, but Hammer wore them so well, he should get a little shout out!Without getting too much into things I don't know too much about, haha, here's a little how things went after we showed up a little bit late to our wedding from the makeup salon. I think we made the monks wait a tiny bit!First we made an offering to the Buddhist monks who were all lined up with their offering bowls. The family also helped filling their alms bowls and then the monks chanted a little chant. I'm used to this chanting now after hearing it in school on Thursdays, although probably not a wedding chant at school! I think it may have been interesting to see and hear for Dad though.Bowls filled and chanting finished, the monks made their way back to a van to be ferried back to their temple. Pae then disappeared into the house (the brides home) and waited for the groom (me) to come calling! This would be the longest we were apart for the whole day. We, the grooms party, took a walk up the soi and prepared to parade to the brides home, Thai steel guitar, drums and all! Dad was the only one who was technically there as a member of the groom's party, but many other friends and relatives helped out. May have looked funny, just me and Dad and the "band", haha. A bunch of Aunties and Uncles as well as friends of P'Nut and P'Neung joined in the parade. Many of our friends (Pae's high school friends) also made the short 200 meter walk with me!We paraded down the soi to the house where I had to pass through two gates, one silver and one gold, to gain entrance to eventually see my bride. After N'Nam washed my feet (twice since I failed to take my shoes off the first time) I made it to the silver gate. After some discussion with the "gatekeepers", with the help of an Auntie, I was allowed to pass, giving each gatekeeper an envelope with 100 Baht in it (roughly $3). Custom, tradition, kinda cool.The golden gate was a little more "expensive" but super easy to pass. It was Pa Sin and N'Som who were the gatekeepers and they didn't want to hold up festivities with a long, drawn out negotiation!! I got through giving them each two envelopes! I had prepared ten envelopes, so I had four left! Not really sure where they ended up!After I got into the house, we spread a little cloth and busted out a bunch of gold, chains, bracelets, wedding rings, incense, cash, etc. A lot of this is cultural and the way it used to be done, with the groom offering the bride's mom "payment" or "insurance" that he wouldn't leave the daughter high and dry one day by leaving her. A dowry of sorts along with the jewelery.The relatives spread rice or something grainy over the whole setup, asking that it multiply and be blessed. Dad even took part in the spreading of seeds, Auntie Laura explaining to him what was going on I'm sure...meaning Dad probably understands the significance better than I do! I was just kinda trying to bow and "wai" at the right times. (So many of the pictures look like I'm so concerned, or like I just woke up!) Happy time, but oh so stressful, especially when it's in a different language! (When Pae eventually showed up, I just copied her!)After the "SinSot" or dowry was blessed, it was wrapped up in the cloth and I had to give it to Mom. She put it on her shoulder and walked into where Pae was "hiding", acting like the money and gold were sooooo heavy, cute. The mothers always seem to get a kick out of this part of the ceremony. Pae finally came out! All I could do is smile when I saw her, even though we had only been apart for like thirty minutes.It was perfect timing to see Pae and her smiling face. A Buddhist priest gave some blessings, I lit candles, Pae lit incense. P'Nut (brother) and N'Luke (Auntie Laura's boy) were my "Best men" of sorts, literally translated to "friends of the groom" and sat behind me the whole time taking care of anything I needed. Pae's "bride's maids" or "friends of the bride" were N'Nam (cousin) and N'Som (Luke's girlfriend). The friends of the bride and groom have to be single, random fact.Pae and I sat through prayers and having water splashed on us by the priest. I put several pieces of jewelery on Pae and eventually her wedding ring! She also put my ring on me. Dad kept asking, "Are you married now?" to which I kept answering either with raised eyebrows and a shrug, or with "I think there's more!" Numb legs eventually caused me to change my seated position, letting a little blood flow, but the incense was blowing right at me, and I found it hard to hold my breath for the hour long ceremony, so I just sucked it up and luckily the normal drippy nose and sneezing didn't hit me. I was concentrating so hard on not getting all allergic and sinusy during the wedding! Maybe the endorphines and adrenaline blocked the receptors up in my head!After I peeled myself off of the floor, we went to these green benches where we would sit for the next hour or so. Here the elders would pour holy water out of a shell, over our hands and "bless us" with their words and advice. We had three white dots painted on our foreheads and our heads were connected by string. We got to keep the string that connected our heads during the water ceremony, I'm sure it will eventually be placed in a display case one day when we have our first home!We purposely limited the number of people we invited, so the wedding would be small and more intimate, but it seemed like the line of elders never ended! My hands were pruned by the time it was finished! Can't have enough blessings though and never can get too much marital advice from the elders!I think somewhere during one of these ceremonies, Pae pointed out GM, one of my fifth graders who begged his mom to bring him all the way to Ubon for our wedding. A great kid, sixth grade this year. He brought his mom, brother Guy and brother Guide along for the ride. They own and run a tour company, so I'm guessing that getting plane tickets wasn't so hard for them! I was really happy to see GM and his family there, especially since he has always gone out of his way to make sure that I knew that he wanted to attend our wedding "someday". Well, someday finally came and he was there!When the pouring of water finished they dragged us into Pae's room where we were again given blessings by the elders, presumably fertility blessings, hahahaha. Technically, according to custom, I think we were supposed to sleep in the bed for the first three nights following the wedding, but I had to get Dad home and Pae had very little time for Honeymooning, so Mom let us off the hook :)After the bedroom portion of the proceedings, we were out for brunch, which ended up being us on stage being interviewed, and then out to the tents to take pictures with all of the guests (Not a lot of those photos here, there are just too many). This was a hot, hot, hot part of the day. P'Neung told us later that the temperature had gotten up to 41 degrees Celsius...or somewhere around 106 Fahrenheit!! Yeah, it was hot! I think I broke before Pae, and requested a couple glasses of ice water from a friend in the crowd.While making rounds in the guest tents and taking pictures, we saw and heard Dad Uda singing Karaoke! Pae's Dad sang as well. We got off without having to sing (until dinner later). Dad showcased his singing AND dancing skills with one of the uncles as we were busy. Many of Pae's high school friends made the trip from Bangkok also, we spend a little time at their table. They always said that Pae would be the first of the group to wed...they were right!When we finally made it to eat, many guests had already left and there wasn't much food actually remaining! But it was just nice to sit beside Pae and pick at our first meal together as husband and wife!After we ate, everyone had a nap and then we made our way to a family dinner later in the evening. There are bunches of pictures so I just put lots of them into collages for now. Thanks to everyone for their support and wishes!We're MARRIED, yay!!!