Not long after I arrived in my house on the first night in my new city, my host father picked up a wedding invitation and showed me saying “tomorrow!” followed by “you go!”. I felt excited to be invited to my first wedding minutes after arriving. So, the next day after exploring the town I got dressed up for the wedding. I was worried because my host mother put on a nice dress, but I threw on my dress pants and a nice shirt and asked if it would be alright and they said yes.
This was my first time alone with just my host mother and host father. I was a bit nervous about leaving my host aunt since she is the one who speaks English and translates everything for me. We hopped into some other relatives car and sped off. My host mother made a phone call and asked how to say village. Then she informed me, mostly through sign language, that we were going first to the village, then coming back to the city to go to the restaurant for the supra (dinner party). It was quite clear once we were out of the city. The road became a pot hole filled gravel road where we weren’t trying to drive on one side of the road or other, just the part of the road that would damage our old car the least. After zig zagging down the road avoiding not only pot holes but cows, people, a bicycle and other cars much faster than us, we finally found our destination.
We parked down the street and walked up to the house. Everyone was lined up around the driveway and we mingled and I was introduced to some of the other guests. Minutes later a caravan of cars arrived beeping all along the way. The wedding party had arrived. They zoomed into the driveway, stopping just before hitting the guests waiting for them. Everyone crowded around to see the bride and groom as they stepped out of the decorated cars. Before they ascended the outside stairway to the second floor, some kind of plate was broken. Then she went up and all the guests (there were hundreds) flooded up the stairs to say congratulations.
One room was set up with a table full of food and drinks and people made their way in line to greet the bride, then filed out. That was all for the village portion of the event. We all hopped back into the car after only being at the house for about 20 minutes, and we made our way back along the potholed road back to the city and to a wedding hall. There we again waited for the bride and groom to appear and this time they were greeted with some very nice fireworks.
I was quite overwhelmed with the spread on the table. There was hardly room for our plates with all the food piled on the table when we sat down. We started to eat right away. I tried a little of this and a little of that and found myself full not long later. Much to my surprise, that was not the end of the food. After the first hour or so, the waitstaff would bring around a new dish every ½ hour or so and I ate until I felt sick.
Then the alcholol started flowing. Georgians love to drink, especially at a supra, and wine is served in pitchers rather than bottles and are refilled whenever they reach half empty. Tcha-Tcha (Georgian vodka) is readily available plus a wide selection of mineral water, soda and what Georgians call “Limonati” or lemonade, but it never seems to be made from lemons. The only alcohol missing at this event was beer, perhaps it’s not classy enough for a wedding.
Georgians make toasts while drinking from a horn. The horn at this wedding happened to be made of chrystal and appeared to hold about a liter of wine. Which, after saluting the bride and groom, the men would then drink all at once. Women don’t often make toasts like this, but the one woman I saw make a toast had to take 2 or 3 sips to down her liter of wine.
Then, of course, like any good wedding, there was plenty of dancing. Everyone got up on the dance floor, young and old. The music selection was completely random, with Georgian songs, Russian songs, American songs and (randomly) a lot of Itailan songs. Then, about once an hour, they kicked everyone off the dance floor and we were treated with performances of traditional Georgian dances from professional dancers. At one point my host father motioned for me to follow him out of the wedding hall telling me to bring my camera. He brought me to a side house where the performers were getting ready for the next performance and he asked them to take some photos with me. It was slightly embarrassing, but I do have a terrible soft spot for getting my photo taken in traditional garb or with others dressed in traditional clothes, even in my own country.
Finally at 1 am, my host mother called it quits and we walked home from the party. I was grateful since all that food was not feeling so good in my stomach. The party, however, was still going strong. If you’re ever in Georgia, make sure you get yourself invited to a Georgian wedding. You won’t regret it!
Every wedding needs a goat, right?