Emily is getting married today – after many years of long discussions about this boy or that boy, she has found a man better than the one I had made for her in my head. It's a time of excitement and celebration, but also of seeing many prayers answered in a beautiful way.
The wedding began at 3pm (in theory – actually closer to 4), and Emily asked us to arrive early to get to spend more time with them.
We woke up early-ish and had a large western-style breakfast – french toast, bacon, fruit, juice, toast and jam, and some thai chicken curry soup as well. We worked off all those western calories by laying by the Bay of Thailand until our sunscreen soaked in, and then swimming in this amazing part of the ocean. There were literally no waves – which made the wakeboarding available not seem worth it. There was the ever-present pulse of ocean current, but it was like a swing rocking gently in the breeze. Neither of us have ever experienced so few waves in the ocean. We were continually surprised by the salty water, it was so lake-like. The water was also this amazing aquamarine blue- the most beautiful blue water I've ever seen. It was too murky for snorkeling, and we heard there was no good snorkeling in Lamai Bay- you had to take a full day trip by boat for any good snorkeling or kayaking. With the wedding affairs, we wouldn't really have any full days for trips. Happily, we weren't there to snorkel but to spend time with good friends, so having no options made it easier to stay focused on quality time with our favorite people! We did swim a good number of laps, our first exercise in a while, then laid in the sun to get a bit of color before the wedding (insert doom music here).
Up and down the beach, Thais hawk jewelry, wind chimes, hammocks, bedspreads, massages, and pedicures. They are covered head to toe (both for modesty and sun protection), and seem very poor. Wonderful grandmother-like women would grab my feet as I tanned, tsk-tsk me, and suggest I need a foot scrub- which I did! I had some serious moral issues, both wondering if the hotels wanted us to accept the peddling (they never seemed to stop it), and because we were relatively scantily clad against the Thais's modest clothing. Finally one older woman grabbed my foot and insisted on giving me 1 free minute, and I was sunk. She had quite the marketing gimmick. I gave in to a foot scrub, leg massage and pedicure right there on my lounge chair on the beach. It was fantastic. I paid for it dearly though- in that extra 30 minutes, I got completely burnt (although I wouldn't know it for a few more hours).
We got ready for the wedding, paid way too much for a taxi, and arrived just in time for me to sneak into the honeymoon suite and get sucked into the last minute bridal party chaos that always precedes a wedding ceremony. The girls were beautiful, Emily was drop-dead gorgeous, her mom was lovely and regal, and everyone was buzzing around finalizing all the beautiful details. I think I ended up being helpful – since I didn't have to get ready myself, I could relay messages, find missing emergency kit items, help wrap the vows, etc. Poor Ty had to wait at the bar – but it was an open bar and the pastor was also waiting, so they had a good chat.
(Emily's mom, Emily, and Emily's new mother-in-law!)
(the wedding party watching the bride and groom's "first look")
The wedding was set on the Silavadee's private beach, and it was everything you imagine for a beach wedding in Thailand. The party entered after the guests across a long, elevated boardwalk surrounded by that amazing blue water, coconut trees, and giant boulders. The ceremony faced the water and included a personalized song by friend Alwyn from Taipei, beautiful vows by the bride and groom (Emily's lasting a very long time of course), and a blending-of-sand ceremony (Emily and Jens each poured their own sand into one larger bottle - which was quite funny since the moist air had made the sand stick in their bottles – Ty joked that you do have to whack the bottle pretty hard to get the two to become one in marriage!).
(beach formal wear for the groomsmen)
Despite the beautiful location, the beautiful bridesmaids, the handsome groomsmen, etc, the real beauty of the wedding could have been anywhere – it was so exciting to see two wonderful people make a beautiful commitment, and knowing that all of us surrounding them would be part of walking that commitment out over their lifetimes.
(Emily and Jens listening to Alwyn's song)
(we got to throw rose petals over the couple as they left the ceremony)
After the ceremony, we were invited to toast the couple, sign the guest book, and even paint artwork, while the formal group photos occurred. In the midst of the formal photos, Emily, in her beautiful but tight and heavy (3-layered) satin and lace gown fainted – caught by several of her bridesmaids. It took a good half hour for her to come around completely – fortunately the pastor leads missions teams in humid climates and knew what to do, and one of the groomsmen was a nurse. I found the whole thing quite funny, knowing Emily (and weddings) enough to know she would be okay, and that this did not fit into her wedding itinerary she had sent out a week prior, scheduled in 5 minute increments! Sure enough, she was later glad I had taken pictures of her passed out, cold napkins around her neck on a beach recliner in her wedding dress!
(Em, it's bridzilla, not bridezombie!)
(a little A/C, a shorter dress, and some tropical fruit, and Em is ready for the party!)
The fainting spell and recovery period nixed any more photos, and the guests spent a lot time at the bar/lounge area while Emily recovered. She had a fantastic reception dress to change into that was a lot more comfortable, fortunately, and while we waited, we got to play “photo booth” at the bar. We were given small chalkboards to write a message or caption, and several props for making things creative. Ty posed as Jens catching me as Emily mid-faint. :)
The tropical drinks (lychee mojitos – yum!!) and lounge area (large outdoor couches with flowing silk drapes overhead) made the time enjoyable – we didn't seat for dinner until after 8, even though the ceremony began at 3pm. This also meant some of the heat died down and made dinner more enjoyable. The whole time people kept commenting on how great the weather was, and I was confused, as I was ridiculously hot and sweaty. It turns out this was because I had transformed into a lobster and my burnt skin was radiating heat into my clothes!
(sunburns starting to emerge!)
The reception was wonderful- full of toasts and stories, and more creative guest-involvement. We each had a Polaroid taken of us on the way into the wedding – then those pictures were attached to note cards with a number on them. The number represented the year's anniversary for which we would write a note on the card for Emily and Jens. Thus they would have memories from friends and family and their big day for each anniversary for the next 10 or so years. How creative!
We were seated with Pastor Jeff from Taipei, his wife Heather, and their adorable and agreeable through the night daughter Amelia. Heather was great fun and Jeff got us into some good deep theology talk. One-year old Amelia was a cute as can be. Apparently Jeff is always launching theology discussions, which is why Emily sat us together (she know I could handle it and would even enjoy it).
The food was delicious and the decorations were amazing – floating Japanese lanterns, green flower balls along the back wall clad in teak, gift bags filled with Thai snacks – salty, sweet, and nutty. In addition to crème brulee at dinner (one of my favorite desserts), there was wedding cake and an ice cream and candy bar filled with Emily’s favorite American sweets – which are mostly my favorites too! It was fun to be hanging on a cliff in the Bay of Thailand, in our wedding outfits, noshing on red vines, nerds, sour ropes, taffy and Reese's peanut butter cups! We finally made it home around 2 am, on the last shuttle out.
(goofing off with the wedding couple)
(we are so grateful we got to be a part of this day - look at how cute they are!!)