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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Marquesas: Wedding Crashers

Marquesa locals, french polynesia, cruiser activities
Hiva Oa church crowd, festooned in traditional Marquesa
wedding colors -- more red and white than Valentine’s day.
“Really, as long as you show up with a gift, it’s ok!” assured our cruising friend Patty of Armagh.  She found out that morning from other cruiser friends of hers, there was an open invitation to the traditional Marquesa wedding reception, the “happening” in Atuona that day. 

We were on our way into Atuona anyway, though we hadn’t dressed for a wedding, if indeed we knew what was proper.  With curiosity, no special plans for the day and the excellent company of Patty and Steve (Patty’s husband), we figured… Why not?

Marquesa locals, french polynesia, cruiser activities
These charming wedding guests were
happy to pose for a photo.
With much shoulder shrugging and clumsy French we honed in on a 4-glass liqueur set and a small pyrex pie dish and linen dish towels to excuse our presence at the largest grocer in Atuona.  We were not the only customers that morning availing ourselves of the store’s complimentary gift wrap service.

In our desperate search for a public toilet – culminating at the church -- we also crashed the tail end of the wedding ceremony.  As the bride and groom slowly made their way out of the church. There was much singing and snapping photos & videos using iPads, mobile phones and digicams.  

We attempted to appear inconspicuous.  Fat chance – we were perhaps the only four folks not clad in red and white out of a crowd of 100-200 revelers – likely about ¼ of Hiva Oa’s total population. 

Marquesa locals, french polynesia, cruiser activities
The rug is laid in preparation for advice givers to lay upon.
It was a welcoming crowd, embracing infants to seniors.  Most women wore crowns of flowers in their hair. 

The bridal couple, decked out in fabulously fragrant tiare (local gardenia) leis, were older than we expected – in their 40s.  Both looked blissfully happy.

Particularly intriguing was the custom to throw down a rug, upon which those wanting to offer advice to the bride and groom would prostrate themselves.  Amid much laughter, the bride and groom would step over their seers.

Marquesa locals, french polynesia, cruiser activities
The bride, led by her husband, gets ready to respond
to the advice givers.
Marquesa locals, french polynesia, cruiser activities
Carefully, she steps over the prostrate advice givers. 
This happened again at the reception with far more giggling.
In a loose Pied Piper fashion, we made way to the nearby reception - outside a sprawling patio restaurant to await the arrival of the bride and groom.  The welcoming crowd separated by gender, women flanking one side, men the other. The newlyweds left their red bow-festooned “chariot” (truck) and led the fray into the restaurant.  Well-wishers offered their congratulations, kisses on each cheek and their bridal presents.

Periodically, the hairdresser who cut our hair, would blot makeup from the bride’s face, and snap photos with her smart phone.  There was a separate area, mostly out of sight, where the youth gathered, and sang.

Marquesa locals, french polynesia, cruiser activities
Outside the church, followed the ceremony, songs were sung
in Marquesan and some were accompanied by a teen with
an orange dyed mullet drumming a traditional Marquesan drum.
Food – roasted pig and red bananas, potato salad, chow mien, BBQ spare ribs, and more -- was doled out by servers in a loose buffet line.  Coolers of non-alcoholic fruit punch were used to fill repurposed tall plastic mineral water bottles.  There appeared to be no alcoholic beverages.

With full bellies and our curiosity satisfied, we headed back to our respective boats.

“When you’re already in the South Pacific,” Wayne mused, “Where do you go for your honeymoon?”  “Disneyland?” we parlayed….

Marquesa locals, french polynesia, cruiser activities
The bride and groom and their flower girl approach
a welcoming crowd outside the reception area.
Maybe they skipped, already took or delayed their honeymoon.  We recognized the groom, at work, two days layer in the local hardware store. He still looked happy. It was clear he did not speak English, and I regretted not feeling fluent enough in French (much less Marquesan!) to thank him for the delightful wedding and tease him about his short honeymoon.














Marquesa locals, french polynesia, cruiser activities
“It’s all gone!” explained the perplexed locals when we
approached the roasting pit to check it out.  Did they think
we were still hungry?
We later discovered the couple already spent many years together, siring and raising 5 children, figuring it was about time “to make it legal, given the relationship seemed well time-tested.” 





Location Location
The wedding occurred in Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia on Saturday May 2, 2015, our first stop in the Maquesas.  This post was published at our second Marquesa island stop, at Fatu Hiva (S10.47.854 W138.40.053).