A nice day for a white wedding in Shan State
THE lyrics of the famed Billy Idol song “White wedding” could well be the theme of Shan weddings in Burma, albeit without the gothic overtones.
The song line “It’s a nice day for a white wedding” was definitely running through my mind when I attended a wedding in Muse in Shan State near the Chinese border because not only was the bride in white, but so too was the groom, the bridesmaid, the best man, the page boy, the flower girls and the priests. Fortunately the rest of us were allowed to wear anything we liked.
The wedding was definitely themed along western lines and held in a church with traditional songs, vows, ring exchanges and signing of the register. But that’s really where the similarities ended and perhaps where the cost savings began.
In Australia the average wedding costs AUD$36,200 according to recent data from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. In the UK the Telegraph has listed it at £18,000 and CNN has it at USD $28,400 in the USA.
While none of my friends have probably ever spent that much, and no doubt it’s a lot cheaper in much of Asia and indeed many couples are electing to wed in places like Thailand instead, weddings do set a family or couple back financially which was why it was so heartening to see a low fuss and no frills affair that was still very well done, personable, and thoroughly enjoyable.
For example the bride and groom got ready at his house together and arrived in the same car that belonged to the family, so no hired chauffeur or limousine was required. The photos took but 20 minutes after the ceremony with those that attended as the couple’s shots had already been done, in complete wedding garb, in China across the border in the weeks preceding so there was no standing around for hours waiting for the bride and groom to come to the reception.
The reception itself was held at a restaurant just down the road immediately after the ceremony so if you’d built up an appetite you didn’t have to wait long for your food. There were different sittings on the same table, meaning when you left another group took your place so it meant we could all pack into a relatively small place.
There were no speeches and cake cutting that dragged on and on, and definitely no terrible dancing. Gifts of money rather than personal items were given as the bride and groom go to live with his family and have no need to set up house, and no doubt this helped them pay for the wedding.
After the food was eaten it was all over. The bride and groom simply returned home to hang out with the family as there was to be no honeymoon. The family home itself had really become a makeshift hotel with people packed into rooms and floor spaces making for a friendly, all in together affair and of little cost to visitors as well.
At the reception the couple did change into Shan clothes but simply put it seemed to be the way to do a wedding, all white or not.