My First Ethiopian Wedding!
There are a couple of things you should know about me-- and one of them is that I LOVE love. If you seriously take time to think about it, the need to love (and be loved) is the only thing that fuels our existence-- and the idea of love in all of its complexity, and many forms excites me. With all of this said, you can only imagine how amped I get about weddings.
It doesn't matter, the size of the wedding, or how elaborately its done, the celebration of declaring a unified love always makes me swoon. :) It's a hard enough feat to find true love; and fan that simple attraction from a flame into a fire-- but to willingly and openly commit yourself (in front of witnesses) to a love that can set your world on fire? That's some next-level romantic ish! lol
If there is another thing you should know about about me, it's that I love culture: new languages, learning about different traditions around the world, eating foreign food... the whole nine. Odds are if it's foreign (long as it doesn't dabble or deal in spiritual darkness), I'd love to learn and participate in it!
Now with these two ideas in mind, you can only guess how THRILLED I was to see that I'd been invited to my friend Yodit's wedding!
I've attended plenty of weddings in my lifetime, but there are a couple of things that made this wedding a very special one for me. Not only was it a union of love, it was a re-union of friendship.
You see, Yodit and I met almost 10 years ago while we were both studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Prior to arriving in Spain we knew absolutely no one. But when we got there Yodit, Jillian, and I just clicked... and the crazy part was that we had to travel all the way across the Atlantic to meet each other, when we'd all grown up in the DMV less than an hour away from each other! ...Just goes to show, when you're meant to be, you're meant to be! lol
Yodit is Ethiopian and has always proudly shared her heritage. Like for real ya'll. I remember one time while we were in Spain (I have no idea how she managed to do it) but she found this AMAZING Ethiopian restaurant, and had all of us meet her there. We sat down on the floor and shared in all of her fave traditional Ethiopian dishes, family style. It was my first experience with Ethiopian cuisine and I loved it!
So it came as no surprise when I saw that the invitation also mentioned that she would be having a traditional Melse. While I had no idea what a "melse" was, I knew that it would be different, so it going to be lit! :)
White Weddings and Things
Yodit and Dwights's wedding was a 2 day extravaganza! The first day called for a traditional "white wedding"-- but in all actuality there really wasn't anything "traditional" about it. I was so blessed by the church ceremony and the reception was so much fun.
Let me tell you, this couple is loved! The church ceremony was PACKED to capacity, I'm talking standing room only. In my experience, when it comes to wedding a lot of people usually end up missing the wedding ceremony and just o come out to the reception. Not the case here! Everyone came out.
The GROOM was met with applause as he walked down the aisle. Usually all of the tears and excitement is expressed when the bride makes her appearance. I'd never experienced anything like it, but it was so cool to hear everyone whooping and hollering as he made his way to the altar. Talk about making an entrance-- It was at this moment that I knew we were in for a special ceremony. :)
The Ethiopians showed up and showed out. There was a beautiful representation of the Ethiopian culture, and it was so well integrated throughout the ceremony. This included praise and worship as well as prayers in Amharic (Yodit's native language), and even ululations throughout the ceremony.
The bride secretly wrote a song to be performed for her husband... it was good ya'll!
The VOWS! UUUUUUGGGGHHHHHH, the vows! That's all I can say. They were so special, and there wasn't a dry eye in the room!
Lastly, the foot washing ceremony. The life of this very special couple is inspired and fueled by Jesus Christ; and just as Christ served they've dedicated themselves to a life of service. In starting their lives together and submitting to this vision, they washed each other's feet. What a beautiful act of love, devotion, and humility.
I've never felt so blessed by a church ceremony. It was a wonderful time of love and fellowship, and to be honest I left feeling like I'd attended a Good Sunday service. The vibes were that good!
Then it was off to the reception. There was tons of music, good food, dancing, and Ethiopian Honey wine (which due to my current preggo status was unable to try)... but don't worry I took a bottle home to celebrate once I deliver Baby No. 2 next year. lol
Finding Our Stomping Ground
Since the wedding was in Virginia (and we were baby free for the weekend) Nick and I decided to take the next day to explore Alexandria. We woke up pooped, hungry, and with achy feet! So we decided to take the day to spend some quiet QT together, and the first thing on our agenda was brunch.
We found this cute place called Stomping Ground that does everything with biscuits of love… Like literally, their entire menu consists of new and delicious ways to eat biscuits. What I loved about this place (in addition to the unconventional menu) was the fact that everything on their menu is homemade: from the hot sauce, down to the cardamom that they use in their Cardamom Latte. We happened to try both, and they were awesome!
As we waited for 5:30 to approach so we could attend part two of Yodit and Dwight’s wedding festivities, we sat down for tea and a chat! I had an idea for a video that I’d been wanting to shoot for a while so we made it happen then. For those of you who’d like to watch the full Hub-bae Q&A viddy, check it out here! :)
After enjoying a day full of togetherness and conversation, we eventually made our way to the second half of Yodit and Dwight’s wedding happenings: the Melse!
Now to be honest, prior to arriving at the Melse I wasn't sure of what to expect, but nothing could have prepared me for what we experienced when we walked in. The setting alone took my breath away and got me excited for the rest of the night.
Initially I'd assumed that the Melse was something like a traditional Ethiopian wedding; but after conversing with people who were seated at our table, I learned that the Melse is actually more like an "introduction" for the families. In the past when Ethiopians used to practice arranged marriages, the melse would take place the day after the wedding, and acted as and an opportunity for the bride and groom (as well as their families) to get to know each other better.
There were so many cool things that I learned about Ethiopian Habesha Culture throughout the melse... and of course, since attending the wedding, I've been on Instagram checking out the goodness all over the internets. lol
The Decor: Really sets the mood for what it's like back home for the Habesha people.
The Entrance: Is a formal thing, and the the couple enters looking like royalty
The Dancing: is not up for discussion. You're bound to shimmy a shoulder (or two!) throughout the night.
The Ethiopian love for coffee: Coffee is HUGE! There's even a little coffee ceremony (called the "Buna Ceremony") that takes place during between the couple, and another bonding with the two families. In addition to this, after eating dinner, someone walks around with a smoking pot of roasted coffee beans. They wave and pass the roasted beans under the guests' nostrils. I asked if there was a specific reason for this (like possible health benefits with digestion or something), and the answer was no. ...They simply love the aroma of coffee! haha
The importance of family: this was evident throughout the entire Night. The wearing of matching attire reminded me of Nigerian Aso Oke, and made it apparent to all attending who the were relatives of the family were.
The Bride’s Nick-Naming: After getting married, the Habesha bride receives a "pet name" that her new husband will call her. The nick name is chosen by the groom's family. Once the nickname is selected and shared with the congregation, the couple then cuts a piece of bread and take it around to all the guests. Whoever can remember the new name gets to eat a piece of the bread… which is said to be good luck!
The cutting of the cake: is a fancy group affair. I’m not sure if this is typically done with the entire bridal party-- but what I do know is that champagne was involved. In addition to this, the cakes are REALLY pretty and decorated to match the bridal party's attire of the night.
Nick and I had an awesome weekend in Virginia witnessing and celebrating God’s bringing together of these two special souls. It was probably one of the most fun and diverse weddings I’ve personally ever attended, and I loved it!
Hit play and check out the full video of the weekend's festivities below! I promise you won't be sorry. And if you like this video, and this post please kindly subscribe to the site, and my channel. This way you'll never miss you on any of my #LiveRichMommy content!
In the meantime, feel free to comment below and share some of your favorite wedding memories. Whether it was yours, a friend's, or a family member's, there are so many fun ways to celebrate love around the world. How do you celebrate where you're from?
#LiveRi¢h, and Happy Dream Chasing! :)
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