Again we were running late. We were supposed to be at the white wedding venue for the rehearsal by 3pm (there was a wedding at the venue that evening so we had to get there early), and our entourage didn’t fully arrive until 3:45. I tried calling my dad, but he wasn’t picking up his cell phone (I later learned he accidentally left it in Vermont. Of all weekends to forget your cell phone!), and I hadn’t had time to check my email to get the phone number for the woman who was officiating our ceremony. As my mom and sisters drove up, both my dad and the officiant were standing at the gazebo waiting for us. Thunder was cracking in the background, threatening to start the rain up again before we had a chance to finish the rehearsal.
I met with the wedding venue coordinator to give her the final seating arrangements, place cards, ribbon for the cake, check for the food, etc. She stood by as we did a run through of the ceremony—who was walking in with who, who was standing where, where the table for the “earth mixing” and “unity candle” had to go, who would walk out with who, and where we needed to go after the ceremony.
Then we were all there, standing at the gazebo/altar practicing the readings, and pretend-lighting candles. Those last few weeks went by so fast, it didn’t really feel like a wedding rehearsal. It felt like we were all little kids playing make believe.
One thing we didn’t practice was “the kiss” because P was embarrassed. He already felt awkward knowing he had to do the kiss in front of his family for the actual white wedding, he didn’t really want to do more in front of them if he didn’t have to. Then we all walked out—me and P, my maid of honor K, M and S, R and D, AS and RH, my parents, P’s parents, and U stayed behind to play “All You Need is Love” on his guitar as we walked out.
I think P’s family was a bit relieved to have a rehearsal for the white wedding, so they would know what to expect, having never been to a white wedding before. I’ve heard a few Nepali friends joke that they thought it was funny that white weddings need to be “rehearsed” (“Why do you need to rehearse getting married?”), and I thought—it’s kind of true, the whole process is pretty smooth sailing, doing a rehearsal almost does feel like too much.
But my parents were nervous. There was no such rehearsal custom for the red wedding, and they didn’t have a clue what to expect. I gave them a program, and encouraged them to talk to P’s parents to learn more about what to expect, but unless you’ve sat through a wedding, or watched one in a movie, it’s kind of hard to visualize. I think for P’s parents, because they were so used to red weddings, and already had a glimpse at what to expect for the white wedding, they had a hard time imagining how nerve wracking it was not to know what will happen at the red ceremony. They kept telling my parents, “Don’t worry. There isn’t much. You will be fine. The pundit-ji will tell you what to do when you need to do it.”
Next was the American tradition of the rehearsal dinner. I had decided a few months back that it would be nice to have the dinner at an Irish restaurant (a nod to my Irish-American heritage) considering that the rehearsal was a white wedding event. It gave people the opportunity to go back and forth between their comfort zones. Friday-western, Saturday-eastern, Sunday-western. At least it guaranteed each set of parents would have at least one meal they liked—my dad ate well on Fri and Sun, but didn’t eat anything on Sat. P’s mom barely touched her food on Fri and probably Sun, but had a nice large meal on Sat.
The whole crew took up a private room in the restaurant. We ordered food and drinks. P and I gave our bridal party presents—pearl necklace and earring sets for the bridesmaids, matching red ties and personalized tea/coffee mugs for the guys. I gave my dad his tie, and ceremoniously gave him his “special Nepali hat” (dhaka topi) I’d been promising. I had to measure my dad’s big head and have it specially tailored in Nepal to make sure it fit. As I placed it on his head, everyone clapped.
My dad, as per family tradition, gave P and I toasting glasses for the white wedding reception. He said he tried to “encapsulate the red and white theme” which he did nicely with red stained glass goblets with clear steams.
Then the speeches started… my sister M stood up and gave a sweet speech about how P “joined our family” when she was just a seventh grader, so he has been with us for most of her life. How he is a brother she never had biologically. She said that having an older sister with such a wide world view inspired her to challenge herself more and learn more about other people, and travel and see the world. It was very touching. Next U got up, and spoke about meeting me for the first time, and how he feels at home with us, knowing that P and I have been there to look out for him. It was also sweet.
With the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner out of the way, it both started to hit home that the weddings were on their way, and weirdly at the same time was hard to believe the weekend was upon us. We departed the restaurant, and R, my sisters and I worked on flower arrangements—making the flower garlands, boutonnieres, bouquets and corsages until at least 1 in the morning. The boys took P out for a last minute drink/I don’t know what, don’t ask don’t tell. And it was off to bed for our last night as a non-married couple.