Peter and Zarina’s Wedding

This is the new thing to do in Kazakhstan – ride around town in a limousine. Several fancy, white cars with friends led the procession while music blared and horns beeped!

Peter’s mother greeted the new couple outside the gate of the home where the reception was held. She did a traditional blessing of giving the young couple bread with grain sugar on top. She fed each of them a small piece of bread. As soon as I find out the meaning of this, I will let you know. The mother of the groom did not change out of her house clothes until after the guests arrived because she was the one preparing everything. It is fun to learn different customs.

Wednesday 12 Aug I had the privilege of attending the reception for Peter and Zarina’s Wedding. Peter used to work for Interlink Resources and still stays in touch because of the friendships build during his time there. Peter is Russian and his beautiful bride is Karachai Cherkess, one of the Caucasian Nationalities. Ken, Beth, Assel, and Olya and myself enjoyed the evening of celebrating.

In Kazakhstan there is a time when they say things will begin. Then there is the time when things actually begin. We had been told the reception would start at 6 o’clock, meaning to an American, it would start at 6 – that’s on time. Well here, in true Kazakh fashion, the reception started on Kazakh time – about 7:45 p.m. But this gave me time to visit with people and take a look around at how things are done here. It really depends on the nationality of the couple as to what traditions will be followed. There are over 130 different people groups in Kazakhstan, so there are a wide range of traditions.

Most everyone dresses in their very best. Everywhere big & little girls love to dress up and here is no exception. I loved seeing the wee girls all dressed up. I imagine they, too, are dreaming of the day they will find their prince charming and marry.

When the bride and groom arrived, they went into the house for a bit and then entered the courtyard among well wishes and cheers. A hired MC kept the activities going with many games, toasts and songs for the new couple. Several songs were played for just the couple to dance while their friends looked on. She was a beautiful bride in a traditional dress from her heritage. Later in the evening she changed into another lovely dress which had more of a western flavor.

After several dances, they were escourted to the head table where they, along with the maid of honor and best man, sat for the next part of the celebration. The table was decorated for the new couple with tasty treats and flowers. When they were seated, the first course of the meal was served.

In the picture above you see Beth, Olya, Ken and Assel as they are waiting for the first course. Several choices of sodas were offered on each table. Usually there is a great deal of alcohol but at this wedding there was very little, for which we were thankful. Sometimes that can be an issue in this country. Pete’s family, his parents, siblings and other family members prepared the food and served it. They worked all day preparing the feast and I imagine worked late into the night cleaning up afterwards. The first course included several different salads and bread followed by a hearty traditional soup with more bread and fresh fruit and finally followed by a traditional dish of pilaf. (rice, vegetables and lamb)

As people ate their first course, the parents of the bride and groom gave words of encouragement and blessings for the new couple. After they spoke many others got up to give their best wishes for this young couple. Traditionally, people also give gifts of money to help the young couple begin their new life.

I went out back and captured a couple of pictures of the guys preparing the pilaf. You can see more pictures of the entire wedding by going to the link on the right side of this blog and then going to the “Peter’s Wedding” album.

As the evening went on and the sun had set, more speeches with encouraging words and blessings came from individuals and various groups of family and friends in between songs, wedding games, and eating.

Here is our group from Interlink up to say their words of blessings and encouragement. Beth is letting me know she realizes I am “hiding” behind my camera. I pretended not to understand what she was wanting me to do. Someone needs to document all our activities, right!!

Kazakh’s love to laugh and have fun. The party games were a mix of fun, as well as some designed to bless the couple with many children, riches and long life. Money was collected in infant pants. Each attendee put money in either the pink pants or blue pants depending whether you wanted them to have a boy or girl first. The picture below is a group the MC gathered and then had the girls dress the men in wild outfits she said to made them Tarzan. They had to give a Tarzan cry and then were given a spear to go collect food from the tables in a set time. The winner was the one who collected the most food. They were asked to dance in these crazy outfits, which they did with enthusiasium. It was fun to watch.

Ken was pulled into playing a round of musical stools. When he lost a round, he had to polka with another guest.

This young boy begged to play this game after knowing what it was. The bride and groom had to race to dress their “babies,” feed them a bottle, and then burp them. It was way too funny to watch. Then these two, all dressed up, had to walk around among all the guests.

In this picture the couple had to spit the pacifiers to see who would get their choice for the first child. Lots of the games were themed to bless the new couple with children.

The celebration went late into the night. Being a Wednesday night and having work the next day, our group started heading out around 10:30 in two shifts, so as not offend the family. It was a fun night. I was touched by the blessing so many gave, amazed by some of the games and touched by the sense of family that was obviously a priority. I had fun capturing the moment for this couple. They came by the office the Tuesday after the wedding asking for copies of the pictures I took. They had hired a group to film and capture the special time but they hadn’t captured much of the activities so hoped I had. They were overwhelmed and pleased by the 500 and then some pictures I had captured. They were so grateful when I said it was my gift to them. I was glad I could give them something that brought so much joy. That evening several of the guests tried to speak to me, but since most spoke only Russian, I couldn’t understand much. Olya was able to translate for me and I gave out several cards so they could go on-line and download pictures from that night.

My desire is that they will each enjoy the pictures for years to come. I was blessed to be able to join in the celebration. I am thankful to learn a little bit more about my new home. Sometimes I see what is lacking and the great need but this night I was able to see the beauty, the love, the joy of family.

It did make me miss my family and friends, as well as the wedding I missed back home and the ones I will miss in the future, but my heart is at peace and has a deep joy knowing this is where I am supposed to be. I never imagined I would be on this adventure. I was talking to my youngest sister the other day and said “Can you believe that Marc, Sarah and I are in three different time zones, in three different countries?” It is hard in some ways but oh what an adventure I could never have imagined 10 years ago. I am so thankful to not be sitting in a lazy boy chair watching the world go by on the boob tube in my living room, to not letting fear of the unknown grip my heart and keep me for reaching out to others. There is so much to see, so much to learn, so much to experience.

Thank you, dear friends and family, for the gift of friendship you so graciously give. Each of you is a gift. Love those well who are in your life. Let those little things go that, in the end, will not make a difference – the new outfit, newest computer, bigger house, fancier car isn’t what brings peace and joy to your heart. Friends and family, giving out of the gifts we have each been given, and living in the Truth are where we find joy and peace that passes all understanding.


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