7-24 Tourism and Weddings

Tourism is the biggest industry in Vanuatu. Recently, I’ve noticed more people doing “destination weddings” here. It may just be that I moved into town where the “destination” part is more likely to happen, rather than that there is any real increase in weddings, too. On Monday evening, I got to see this industry up close.

While I’ve been visiting Santo, I’ve spent some time playing tourist. Though part of it is research, part of it is that my visit happened to coincide with another volunteer’s family coming into town. I’ve been tagging along on the more interesting events for that. On Monday, his mom and step-dad got married on a beach in Vanuatu.
Honestly, I just like this shot.
We arrived at about 5pm, just as it was starting to get dark. They immediately swept Andrea away and into a private hut to change clothes. And by change clothes, I do mean reduce clothes. She walked in wearing a lovely blue dress and walked out wearing a lot of leaves. The mama who made the skirt, neck piece, bra and crown was a super cute older woman. I learned later that she loves to dance because she totally got down with the PCVs.
I was the photographer for the women’s part. Mike did the photography for the men’s part. So, I don’t have any pictures of what happened to Bill, nor do I have any idea what happened to him. By the time we came out, he was safely dressed in a nambas and surrounded by a bunch of young men.
Off to the “new island” for the bride exchange.
They put Andrea on a canoe with a young man who paddled her out around the point. He blew a bubu shell horn as they traveled and the men went to wait on the beach. As they approached, one of the men on the beach stood forward and said, “You can’t land here. Not unless you pay me pigs.”
That started a short skit that went something like this:
Chief on Land: You can’t land here. Not unless you pay me pigs.
Chief on Boat: I don’t have any pigs.
Land: Then you have to fight my warriors.
Boat: I can’t fight your warriors.
Land: Then your daughter has to marry my son.
Boat: My daughter will marry your son.
The “procession” to the marriage arch.  Accompanied by string band.
The two on the boat disembarked and they walked to the group of men where the happy couple were formally “introduced” to each other. Then we walked over to the archway they’d covered in leaves an flowers and a priest performed a short ceremony. I wasn’t listening to most of it, I was busy taking pictures.
They exchanged rings made of coconut leaves and then the priest blessed the union. The boys who had been warriors during the skit turned out to be a string band who played the first song for the happy couple to dance to. After the first dance, we took a break to cut the wedding cake, which was yam laplap. The happy couple toasted their marriage with green coconuts and we got back to dancing. (Neither of them liked the coconuts so Hunter and I drank them instead.) We all munched on fresh fruit, sandwiches and fried tuna cakes while a couple of the guys went to get kava. We toasted with the kava and called it a night.
Blessing the joining at the end.
It was a fun, cheesy fusion between island and western. I enjoyed it and the rest of the volunteers there seemed to, as well.

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