In the space of two weeks, Hannah and I experienced two very different weddings. Our friends Molly and Adam got married in beautiful Sonoma, California.
And our housekeeper Lydwine got married to her partner in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Although this was not my first American wedding, it was my first fully Jewish wedding. There were a lot of really beautiful traditions, like the signing of the ketubah, Molly circling around Adam seven times in front of the chuppah, and a beautifully sung Hebrew prayer called the Seven Blessings.
The Burundian wedding, on the other hand, was a first for me, and I wasn't even able to hide in the back! As Lydwine's employers, Hannah and I were given places of honor in the first row. Sodas are a big thing at Burundian weddings and as honored guests, we were served first. The American wedding was a little more self-service when it came to drinks.
Adam and Molly took professional wedding photos with their families and bridal parties and at Lydwine's wedding there were several videographers filming everything. I guess the international rule for weddings is "pictures, or it didn't happen."
Lydwine's wedding had some really great entertainment. At different parts during the reception, dancers came in to entertain the guests and near the end, one of the family members came up and sang an improvised (and apparently very funny, but inappropriate) song about the wedding night.
Adam and Molly had the horah, which is an awesome dance and should happen at every wedding, regardless of the Jewishness of the couple. They also had a sweet band that let Adam and I perform our old college number Jungle Boogie.
I kind of ended up giving speeches at both weddings. At the Burundian wedding, I was called up to say a few words, so I greeted the guests in Kirundi, telling them after I said good afternoon that I had exhausted my complete vocabulary. Then in French, I thanked them could for honoring us by including us in their special day and telling the groom how lucky he was to be marrying such an intelligent, warm-hearted woman.
At Adam and Molly's wedding, I served as the MC, introducing the different speeches and dances but not saying too much. However, right before the first dance, Molly had a small wardrobe malfunction. I stalled for time by telling a long joke about a donkey, a goat and a horse, walking down a road in wine country. We all know how that joke ends... wait you don't? I didn't either.
In the end, I was happy to partake in my favorite part of weddings: family and friends gathered together to celebrate love.