This past weekend was full of events. It was overwhelming for everyone in the family. If you did not know, my family is Laotian. My parents are originally from Laos while my sisters and I grew up here. Growing up, my parents were popular within the Laos community. My sisters and I were dragged to Laos parties. In Laos culture, we love to party. We love celebrations. We love food. So it is fitting for us to celebrate Nalin and Ben’s engagement-Lao Style!
I did not attend the morning festivities because I was at work, but my sisters filled my in. Here’s a quick run down of what happens at Lao weddings. Basically everyone in the Laos community is invited, meaning the house will be full of boisterous Laos people, rice, and money. The bride has to dress in the traditional silk blouse and sinh, a Laos skirt. She is also adorned with gold necklaces, bracelets, and earrings along with a face full of makeup. The bride also has to wear her hair in a tight bun at the top of her head, also decorated with a gold chain. Since Ben is not Laotian, he just listens to what my parents tell him. So, he is also wearing a silk shirt and pants, matching the bride. The event starts early in the morning and lasts all day. It takes place in the bride’s home. When the house is full of loud Laotian people, the ceremony starts.
The ceremony is known as a baci, where people tie white string around the bride and groom’s wrists as a sign of good luck and blessings. They usually tie money or food on their wrist. An elder ties an egg, symbolizing fertility, and rice wrapped in a banana leaf, symbolizing prosperity. Ben and Nalin were basically treated like royalty.
I was in shock of my own culture. Growing up Asian-American is a whole new world. You’re torn between Asian culture and American culture. I hate to admit it, but I am definitely Americanized. It’s not a bad thing. I just don’t want to lose who I really am or be ignorant about my heritage. So I’m still learning. I don’t speak Lao fluently, but I can definitely put together what people are saying.
The festivities didn’t end after lunch. My parents rented a hotel for the night party. This is much more informal because of the attire and entertainment. My parents hired a “famous” Laos singer. They had connections. He showed up in a gold sequin suit, and it was the best thing I have ever seen. It was much more loose and free. The tables were loaded with all types of Lao cuisine. There was even a whole table decorated with fruit! We fit 12 people, a majority of the bridemaids and their dates, at a round table. Once the venue was full, my mother allowed everyone to feast.
It was really funny watching all of my American friends trying different dishes and asking questions, which made me very happy. Laos people love taking photos of themselves. They also love photographing other people. When we were taking group pictures, random Laos people flocked with their rose gold unprotected iPhone 6s.
After bellies were full and plates were empty, the party began. We did a lead out with the bride’s family and the groom’s family. Ben only had two of his family members present that night, but somehow the line was long. I was standing in the line wondering about the strange faces in line with me. I don’t recall seeing most of them a part of my family, but my dad just picked a few of his close friends to join. We circled around the bride and groom for their first traditional Lao dance, known as Phon. Then we all joined in. This dancing is different from American booty shaking and grinding. It is also different from slow dancing. People are not touching at all. We all slowly step our way in circle, gracefully moving our hands to the rhythm of the song. It’s a much more graceful dance. As the night continued, the crowd grew. The keyboardist also played some fast “club” music for the Americans, which was super fun. Everyone just let loose and had some fun. My sisters and I did not stay the whole night. After Nalin and Ben cut the cake, we decided to leave after dancing to one fast song. It was definitely a long day, and I’m sure everyone is happy that it is over.
Overall, it was a fun experience. I asked my dad if I was going to have a traditional Laos wedding. Henly shook his head and said, “No more Lao wedding. Tired.” I see how it is, dad. I asked him later and he replied, “All 3 girl get Lao wedding.” Okay. I told him that he didn’t have to worry because there won’t be another Laos wedding in a couple of years.
Measure Your Life in Love