Our First Local Kazakh Wedding

Some of you may have seen pictures and a short video clip of me dancing that Andrew posted last week from a Wedding we got to attend Thursday night. If you haven’t seen it, have no fear, I have included the pictures in this post 🙂 I wanted to share a bit about this experience. It was soooo fun!!! So first, we were invited because I briefly met Josh & Sarah Radomsky’s friend, Assel, when Radomsky’s baby boy was born and we chatted a few minutes in the hospital. She invited us to her brother’s wedding (the groom). She added me to a group text that encouraged us to arrive at the wedding hall right at 6:00PM. Well for taxi reasons (story of our life), we actually arrived a bit early. We walk in and there are 2 wait staff there and that is it, lol! We just sat for a bit in the foyer area. Slowly others started to arrive, including Assel, and we were ushered to a side room where there were hors d’oeuvres and drinks. We hung out there and met Josh and Sarah’s other friends from this circle, some of whom spoke English so that was helpful. So then we were directed to the main hall at about 8:00 for the ceremony to begin, and everyone lined up along the sides of the main open floor area (with round tables and a seating area behind each side). We noticed that there were some people upstairs that were just hanging out. An MC began in Kazakh language explaining that the bride was entering. She entered with her face covered and two ladies escorting her. She didn’t come far, and stopped perpendicular to all of us. We learned that the two ladies on her sides were sister-in-laws to the groom. An elderly gentleman began singing and playing the dombra (a local small guitar like instrument) as the groom’s family began to “welcome” the bride into their family by walking up and tossing cash on a chair in front of her, they started with the elderly first and made their way down in the family and even to friends. Every once in awhile she would “bow” in respect. As the friends category, we were last to toss some small bills. In between all of this elderly ladies would go around to the crowd and toss candy (which Avinelle LOVED of course!!) to represent prosperity. After this welcoming ceremony (to which the elderly gentleman sang and played THE WHOLE TIME on his own- about 30 minutes!!!!), the two ladies escorted the bride back to the foyer. Then the groom and his “entourage”, whom we figured were those upstairs, came dancing down the stairs and confetti went everywhere. The groom then exited to the foyer. Then the MC officially welcomed the couple into the main hall and they did a walking loop around us all twice, then were escorted by another dressy young man and lady on either side up to a raised seating area. Then the crowd (there was about 150 people there) was all seated and there was a prayer to Allah and we all began to eat. LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of food!!! So much delicious amazing beautiful food!!! After the couple ate, the toasts began. So families began standing up in the main hall area and the couple stands as well up in their “booth” like seating area, and “receive” what is said. Every one gives a toast, well wishes, etc. Then after you toast you walk up to the bride and groom and present your gift or money. So basically this lasted for hours. In between some toasts there was dancing and even a couple of games. By midnight, we were about to go and call it a night (we had Avi’s preschool and our tutor lesson the next morning), and they even served a whole second dinner but Assel wanted us to give a toast as well with all her friends. So we toasted in English (considering we hadn’t met the couple, we were honored to just be there) and a friend translated. Avinelle stayed awake the whole time and danced all night lol! We left just before 1AM, tea had just been served and we learned later that Josh and Sarah left at 1:30AM and the cake was not served yet when THEY left!!! We actually don’t know when the wedding ended hah. Here are some observations- everything starts late, even weddings! The music is loud the whole time and constant, so don’t think you will get to have a chat. The MC has got his work cut out for him- there were two! They are seriously the guys who kept the thing rolling. There are TWO ceremonies, we are pretty sure we just attended the Groom’s ceremony. As the whole evening was in Kazakh and not Russian- Kazakh language is DEFINITELY VERY different than the Russian language! We were tired and ended up canceling our morning the next day (Avi slept until 10:30!!), but this was an experience TOTALLY worth it and it was an incredible honor to attend and be a part of this ceremony.

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