In a Tongan life, families are paramount with each member playing a defined role. Women have a higher social standing with some authority over other male family members. They are a traditional culture and are enthusiastic about their traditions!
This week I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a traditional Tongan wedding as my good friend invited me to her sons wedding. It was celebrated over Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
A Tongan Wedding celebration involves
- Celebration before Wedding – Fakalelea
- The Wedding Day – Ma’utohi
- The First Sunday – ‘Uluaki Sapate
On Thursday we attended the pre-wedding party: the celebration before the wedding. The families and friends come together to show happiness that they are going to get married.
My outfit for the Fakalelea: ChicStar nautical dress, Dangerfield handbag & TUK black & white polka dot heels.
This involves a ceremony spoken in Tongan. The women dance with some wearing ta’ovala, a woven mat worn around the waist. The ceremony includes a lot of singing and dancing with both families bringing quilts, baked goods and hampers of food. These items are also presented to people attending. A pig is also traditionally given from the groom’s family to the bride’s.
Tongan dancing and the presentation of gifts
The Bride and Groom
I was given a gorgeous purple quilt, a hamper and two cakes. They are very generous people and their community and traditions are warm and inviting. They were all so friendly! The whole ceremony was very enjoyable and I couldn’t help but join in the festivities.
This is the big day where the couple are united in a beautiful wedding ceremony.
My outfit for the wedding day – Hot Chocolate platform shoes, Dangerfield handbag, black shift dress & Leona Edmiston coat
The Wedding Day is an extravagant affair. The ceremony consists of the 15 groomsmen, 15 bridesmaids, 2 page boys and 6 flower girls, and the bride and groom.
The Bride and Groom in modern more westernised attire
The Bridal Party
The ceremony was beautiful. Though it was spoken in Tongan & I did not understand the words, it was still really interesting and captivating. When the Tongan people sing they are so harmonised, it is stunning! The couples then sign papers and the ceremony comes to an end.
Some of the guests wear a ta’ovala, the Tongan mat, while others wear a kiekie, an ornamental girdle around the waist. Both are worn as a sign of respect to the newly married couple.
Guests wearing a ta’ovala
Kiekie worn at special occasions
The whole bridal party outside the church
The limo for the bridal party
The Bride and Groom in their car leaving the church
The reception had 1000 people attend. Yes, that’s right… 1000! I have never been to such a huge reception. Seated at the head table were the bride, groom and the community elders. Then the two side tables seated the parents and the bridal party.
The reception centre
The food was glorious and the Tongan music was so enjoyable!
My friends and I at the reception
The wedding cake was extravagant. I have never seen anything like it.
The wedding cake
Extra cakes at the wedding
The reception consisted of speeches, gift giving, dancing, and a lot of food. Some dancers were lathered in oil in which guests placed money on them, either for the dancer or used as a fundraiser.Traditionally, the Bride’s family give traditionally woven mats to the groom’s mum, and then reciprocated for the bride’s mum. This is undertaken throughout the ceremony. Some mats may cost up to $20,000. They are kept under the mothers bed and brought out for other formal occasions.
The 1st Sunday after the wedding day there is another celebration.
My outfit for the Sunday celebrations – vintage Spanish-inspired dress purchased at Bondi U-turn, Hot Chocolate platform shoes
This commenced with a 2 hour church ceremony. Once again, the reception was spoken in Tongan, accompanied by loud singing & spectacular harmonising!
The married couple with myself and friends
Following this, was a huge feast at the hall consisting of plenty of snacking food and a total of 60 pigs! There were many stories told from different speakers and many prayers spoken. Any remaining food was packed up by guests and taken home.
The reception after church
There was a head table at the reception that consisted of the bride, groom and the community elders. Some Tongans sat in front of the head table wearing the traditional Tongan mats.
The Tongans are a very traditional community, with guests treated in a welcoming and friendly manner. I really enjoyed the three days of celebration! It was such an interesting and fun experience to be involved in a totally different culture and understanding their rituals and traditions!
Have you been to another cultures wedding? Send me messages of your experience, I would love to hear about it.
Ridiculously Retro Xx