I was delighted to see a Nepalese wedding on the grounds of our beautiful Shanker hotel in Kathmandu. The bride was resplendent in an elaborate red wedding dress with a full skirt. The entire dress was embroidered with gold thread. Her long wavy dark hair was covered with a red veil also embellished with golden embroidery. She wore many long necklaces, one of them emerald green. Her arms were covered in bracelets, her hands with henna. She was young and very pretty. As she stood arranging her dress and veil, waiting to enter the banquet hall, she was surrounded by elegant older women in saris, one of them obviously her mother, beaming and fussing over her daughter.
The bride’s expression was solemn. I thought she might be considering the gravity of the step she was about to take. There was no groom in sight when I saw her, I suspected she would light up when he arrived.
As her photographer and videographer started shooting, we moved on not wanting to photo bomb her pictures.
When we returned to the hotel later that night the celebration was in full swing. We could see dancers: women in saris, children in party clothes and men in traditional long jackets and peaked hats.
The front desk manager seemed to take a proprietary interest in the festivities and he was inviting hotel guests to peek into the hall. Several westerners were unabashedly standing next to the dancers snapping pictures. Out of respect, I refused to enter the hall but I couldn’t resist looking in.
I quickly spotted the bride, still solemn and surrounded by women. Maybe she was concerned about her appearance, maybe she wanted to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves. Where was the groom? I asked the desk manager to point him out.
The groom was a tall, distinguished man in traditional Nepali dress, happily dancing in a circle of several guests. While handsome, he was at least 25 years older than the bride. Arranged marriages are common in this culture and it’s been shown that, over the long term, they are no less happy than western-style “love” marriages. But, with my western sensibilities, I wondered if that might explain the bride’s solemn demeanor.