My friends Keni and Jamie decided to get married with very short notice. One day they said to me “Oh by the way; we’re going to get married next week!” As if it was the most normal thing to say. They didn’t have a set day but Keni had trusted his family to make all the arrangements, including when would be the correct day to get married in terms of being a lucky day and/or having positive energy.
We were sitting upstairs having a couple of drinks and discussing the finer things in life and out of nowhere they invited me to their wedding. My face lit up because i felt so honoured to have been invited to such an intimate and personal thing. I declined a couple of times because i’m English and that’s what English people have to do, but once they insisted i jumped right on that invitation.
So before i knew it Saturday had arrived, Saturday obviously being the day that the elders had chosen for the two of them to get married. We left at 8 (That’s a lie; the plan was to leave at 8 but because we were in Thailand we had a chinwag for an hour and left at 9) to ride for just over an hour to neighbouring Lamphun for the ceremony.
I was riding with Pii, a Thai guy who i assume was Keni’s cousin. Halfway along the journey i was dreaming about naked ladies or whatever it is that people my age are supposed to dream about and BOOM! We got a flat tyre. Luckily for us there was a motorbike shop nearby so we got the wheel fixed relatively quickly. Then we got caught in a rain storm so we ended up getting there 1 hour later than anticipated.
I had some gorgeous Thai food with Keni’s family and some of the guests who had also been invited. Soon after a Thai guy in his late forties who was absolutely steaming walked over to our table and tried to speak English to us; he did this by saying one English word in a sentence of slowly pronounced Thai words. I smiled politely until he kept trying to holding my hand. I wondered whether he had any relation to the monk i met about five months ago….
Then it was time for the wedding to start. Keni (with the moustache and dressed like a legend) came out and a large group of us followed him down the dirt track we had to drive down to get to the location. Then we randomly broke out in a Bollywood style dance routine and followed him towards where the ceremony was going to be held.
Steve, my landlord, then started to explain to me that in a traditional Buddhist wedding some of the women ‘guard’ the bride by standing in the way of her, then the groom has to ‘buy’ his way through so to speak. When Keni got to the ‘gate’, the women shouted “500 baht!” (a tenner). Keni then replied “No, it’s 100 baht isn’t it?” To which they quickly answered “No, you’re a farang (foreigner), so it’s 500!” We all giggled the night away and Keni muscled his way through to part 2 of his cunning plan….
Once Keni had negotiated his way through security, it was time for him to get married. I shimmied over to the left side of the ceremony, grabbed a seat and plonked my cute little behind down. Then i noticed that all the Thai people were bombarding Keni and Jamie with photos, so i thought i would jump on the bandwagon and take a few photos as well. I got some nice ones, especially the close ups of the happy couple.
Next on the agenda was this man taking the microphone and spitting out jokes that Michael McIntyre would have been proud of. Sadly for us he was saying them in Thai, so we smiled and hoped they weren’t destroying us in Thai in the process.
After that it was time to tie them together so Keni wouldn’t get cold feet and run away. We could see it in his eyes so the Thai guy shouted “Bring the string!” And each one of us grabbed a piece of string and tied it around their wrists so if Keni did run away, he would be dragging Jamie with him, rendering the entire ‘doing a runner’ completely pointless. I was asked to tie one as well. I panicked like a teenager about to have sex for the first time but i prevailed without any major hiccups, high-fiveing myself in the process…
Once we established that Keni wasn’t going anywhere; the final part of the ceremony was the ‘leading to the bedroom’. The Thai bloke who fancied becoming a stand up comedian tied a kind of double sided lasso around their heads. They said it was because in Buddhist culture the head is the most sacred part of the body and you are joining them together. I personally think it was because Keni is unnaturally strong and could have broken all those knots around his wrist by himself so the noose was a bit of extra security for Jamie.
As i said before they were led to the bedroom and Keni’s family began to cheer him on. I don’t speak great Thai but i would hazard a guess it translated as something along the lines of, “GO ON SON!!!” I joined in not really sure what to expect, standing close to the door ready to scarper if clothes started to fly off…..
And that was it! I ended up trying some rice whisky (it was STRONG!!!!!) and got a bit tipsy. I even did a bit of karaoke believe it or not. Jamie guilt tripped me into it saying that it was her wedding day and that ever since she was a little girl she dreamed of an obscure skinny English lad called Lewis singing karaoke at her wedding. I looked around and couldn’t see any other English Lewis’s so i realised it was up to me to save the day.
In all seriousness i feel very fortunate to have been a part of this and would like to thank the happy couple one more time for sharing their special day with me. This day is something i’ll remember for the rest of my life.