I recall someone, a trainer or older volunteer, mentioning during training last fall that if given the chance we should jump on any opportunity to be a part of a Samoan village wedding. Two weeks ago, I got that chance.
Now the way it works is you typically have a bride and groom from different villages. You don’t want to marry within your village because chances are, you’re related. If the bride is a girl from the village (an “aualuma”) where the wedding is taking place and the groom is from somewhere else, you get to see the best show. That’s because all of the unmarried village girls go nuts celebrating the marriage of a fellow “aualuma”. After the ceremony in the church, everyone spilled out of the double doors and followed the sounds of loud ‘whoop’s and ‘chu-hoo’s, not to mention the banging of thick sticks on rusty sheet metal and pots. Young women scattered the lawn of the fale adjacent the Methodist Church and created as much racket as possible, hooting and hollering and waving branches of teuila flowers around crazily as the wedding procession approached the fale. The yard and road came alive with ladies rusting bushes, releasing balloons and dancing wildly. Once the band (oh yes, there was a brass band brought over from Apia to follow the bride and groom around the village) had assembled outside, the dancing commenced. The aualuma lifted their skirts above their knees and showed their malu tattoos as they darted and scooped around the groom in a traditional gesture. They picked up Fuafiva and carried her around the fale, while others trailed behind singing and billowing her veil and train. Others passed out cups of ice cream and cake. This lasted a few songs until the procession moved onto the next house. Every house had a different treat for the guests and different people to dance and lift and carry and sing. After several houses were visited, there was a feast at Fuafiva’s parents house. Half a dozen roasted pigs and a butchered cow lay covered in coconut fronds outside, while 28 wedding cakes (one for every year of the bride’s age) stood stacked and decorated in the center of the tables. The dancing, exchanging of presents and eating lasted until the evening and I must have been told a hundred times, yelled at really over the loud music, that I should have my wedding in Samoa. Heck, why not? Gotta find a husband first though.