Honeymoon Shock

Our Wedding picture with my husband's two brothers and sister at the reception.
Our Wedding picture with my husband's two brothers and sister at the reception. | Source

Getting Ready


After almost a year of dating, we decided to join in matrimony. It didn't matter to us that we were from two distinctly different cultures, and despite many who predicted an imminent failure. Besides, we were good friends and we had promised each other that "we would make it work" no matter what! Little did we know there would be so many hurdles. The first hurdle began even before the honeymoon.

Tongan wedding photos
Tongan wedding photos | Source
Our family in 1992 - we now have 12 grandchildren.
Our family in 1992 - we now have 12 grandchildren. | Source

Preparations were well underway for the wedding reception. We were to be married at 5:00 pm and then gather with friends and family at a nearby reception hall. My husband had asked a Polynesian music group to play and sing so we could have a wedding dance.

I was in charge of the flowers, cake and decorations, and my fiance was in charge of the food. Things were going pretty well until I locked myself out of the hall while decorating it. That was only the beginning of a very stressful chain of events.

After the finishing touches on the decorations, and picking up the cake, I proceeded to get ready for our ceremony. I felt like a princess in my long veil made by my own grandmother. I had drawn a sketch of what I wanted for my dress. It was fitted and was two piece in a style befitting a bride of a handsome Polynesian groom.

Off to the temple, and our ceremony was beautiful! Tears all around and happiness as we two were joined in holy matrimony for eternity. What could possibly go wrong? Life was perfect, at least for the moment.

I discovered that there are many distinctions between a typical American wedding and a Tongan wedding. Most palangis (Caucasian) that I knew sent out invitations to invite guests to the reception. They also expected an RSVP so they knew how many to expect. On the other hand, I found that Tongans invite everyone through the grapevine (word of mouth). I was surprised to see that there were so many at the reception that we did not invite. Not only couples, but whole families showed up for the food and wedding dance.

I was glad that my fiance had offered to prepare the food. It came in droves - whole suckling pigs, large plates of lu pulu (corned beef and taro leaves), root crops cooked in underground ovens, huge bowls of macaroni and potato salads, seafood and baskets full of fruits. It was overwhelming to see the amount of food that was brought into the reception hall. I started to panic when I saw grease from the suckling pigs dripping all over the floor. I had paid a deposit for the hall, and knew that it had to be cleaned well before midnight. All of the receptions I had been to had little desserts, mints and beverages for to the guests (easy peezy), but this was a feast! Obviously many people were involved in the preparation, and now they were ready to dig in!

The wedding cake in a Polynesian wedding is made to share (not to save) to honor special people in the couple’s life. It is not uncommon to have a ten or more layer cake, with bridges, pedestals, and fountains. Our tiny cake did have a fountain, but it was only three layers - not enough to give whole layers to people important in our relationship. I even had planned on keeping the top layer for us to freeze until our 1st anniversary. Stupid me!

Being a Mormon, we do not drink, but I'm sure that night it would have helped me get over my culture shock with all that was going on. My own family members had arrived, greeted us, saw all that was transpiring, and most left with their eyes as wide as saucers in disbelief!

I was trying hard to be the perfect little wife to my new husband. He was so proud and happy with all the people that had supported him in preparing the food. I had honestly done most of my part of the wedding all by myself, since I didn't want to bother anyone else with it. The reception hall rocked with the sound of Polynesian reggae and teens, babies and elderly all wanted to dance. One thing for sure, they really know how to let go and have fun.

Once the crowd finally subsided, guests left with leftovers and we said our last farewells, the hall was left in a rearranged fashion (to put it mildly). I knew we had to change into our jeans and get busy cleaning up the place before the clock struck midnight (Brings a new light on the idea of Cinderella, doesn't it)? We had reserved a honeymoon suite in a hotel not too far away, but did not get there until 2:00 am after mopping up all the spilled grease and various other culinary delights.

When we checked into the hotel, we still had our working clothes on. We told the attendant at the desk that we were there for the honeymoon suite. He said "Are you sure?" We explained what we had been doing, and then he apologized and made an empathetic expression. At last, finally in our elegant room fit for royalty, I headed straight for a soak in the bathtub. My husband turned on the tv and laid on the bed waiting. When I came out, he was sound asleep, and realizing all the work he had done, didn't have the heart to wake him up, so I went to sleep too, totally exhausted.

The next morning, my husband suggested that we needed to go and feed his family that had come a long distance to attend our wedding. It is the least we could do before they left to go back home. This one blind sided me! But, still trying to be the dutiful little wife, I bit my tongue and we went back to our little apartment and fixed food (dinner rather than breakfast at 10:00 in the morning) for my husband's brother and his family. I found out years later that my husband's culture do not even consider being alone together until after the first Sunday following the wedding. We had gotten married on a Friday. It is all about family and showing gratitude (very admirable custom), but it was far from what I had believed would happen.

Sorry if this hub was not what you had expected - now you know how I felt. Surprisingly, we have been married forty years now. We seriously meant it when we promised each other "we would make it work!", although I admit it hasn't been easy!

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Comments 10 comments

CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

Really lovely- I can just see the bride in her finest jeans scrubbing the floor- and you have lasted 4o years- well done


lesliebyars profile image

lesliebyars 4 years ago from Alabama

Really nice story.


freecampingaussie profile image

freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

I enjoyed your story & the neal sounded very nice ! I can understand being disapointed at not having a normal Wedding night etc ! I got maried almost 3 years ago for 2 nd time on the beach with 2 guests !


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Fascinating details about some Tongan wedding details, Elayne. Delighted your marriage has survived despite the rocky honeymoon weekend.


Globetrekkermel profile image

Globetrekkermel 4 years ago from CALIFORNIA

This is a wonderful hilarious (love it) detailed account of your wedding.I can see why you still remember every little detail what happened during your wedding.It sure is very " eclectic".Not every woman will have this experience.Voted up for interesting and funny .Very entertaining.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 4 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

You are right, Pamela99. We moved to Tonga and I learned about the culture firsthand. There are very admirable traditions and customs in all cultures. You just have to look for them. I love my husband's family, and hopefully they love me, too. Thank you.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 4 years ago from Rocky Mountains Author

I can only imagine how it was for your Dad, and especially his wife. Sounds about as different as ours. You learn to give and take in marriage, no matter how you were raised, right! Thanks for your comments.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

So much for the cultural clash! My Dad married an Austrian woman, and you wouldn't believe the differences in outlook etc between her background - middle class, provincial, historical architecture, small industrial/commercial estate rim-town - and his -working class industrial provincial, coke ovens, steel mills, chemical plants, terraced housing, shipyards, smoky railway yards etc - and they were less than 1,000 miles apart. My background is much the same as my Dad's, the wife is not a great lot different and the cultural divide is minimal. We get on much better, except when it comes to farming - my Yorkshire forebears were farming folk and my wife's big on animal rights campaigning. You can't have everything!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

This is such an interesting account of your wedding, and it certainly it distinctly different than any I have attended. I think it is very unique and having the family involved at that level doesn't sound so bad, just different. I imagine your husband's family love you and that it great. Voted up and very interesting.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

A wonderful story dear. What a full and colorful life you are having. Beautiful family. Your daughter is a knockout!

Tongans know how to live!

Bob

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