|Preparing for the Baptism|
After the Baptism, it was time for the wedding. "Do you have the rings?" the priest asked. Teo brought hers out. Immediately, I understood the classic movie wedding moment where the rings where somebody forgot a ring. I checked my pocket without purpose, as I knew exactly where it was - in my desk at home. In all my anticipation and excitement about getting married and looking proper and whatnot, I forgot the single key non-organic ingredient to having a wedding - the ring. "Shota!" I called over one of my closer friends and endowed him with the task of a quick retrieval. He ran off, jumped in a taxi and got the ring. Meanwhile, we just waited around with the bums continuing to harass everyone for money. You'd think after the third or fourth time to say that, "No, I haven't got my wallet, I'm getting married," they'd take a hint or something. but those guys were professionals.
|The wedding begins in the Sioni Cathedral|
When Shota arrived with the ring, the wedding finally begun. It was a typical Georgian Orthodox wedding, which is to say, completely strange to me. The weddings I had witnessed in Georgia before were factory weddings held in the bigger and more "important" cathedrals, where 20 or 30 people would be married at once. Here, we were the only ones, which was why I had wanted one of those obscure churches to begin with. But here, we were in the key historic church of Tbilisi, alone with our ceremony. The Church of the Dormition had existed for some fifteen hundred years, but with the building of Sameba not far away, it had become somewhat forgotten by the masses. We stood in a line in the center of the great hall, our best men and women to our right and left, Teo and myself, and the priest stood before us conducting the ceremony.
|The crowns over our heads|
The priest stepped forward to us and continued with the chanting. He took out two crowns and put them on our heads, as though we were the king and queen of the mass. Then we drank some wine - the Lord's blood - and the crowns were held above our head by our best men and maid of honor. With our hands in the priest's, we were led around the stand with the golden covered Bible three times. We were holding lit candles, and the hot wax kept dripping down onto my hand, it was all I could do not to drop the candle, as I assumed everyone else - Teo, the best men and bridesmaid - were having an equally difficult time with this. But then, before we could scream out, it was over.
|At the iconostasis|
The priest took our hands and led us away from our friends and to the iconostasis - that part of older churches, usually made of wood, that blocks the altar so the ritual of transubstantiation is hidden from the gathering. The priest told us, "This is something I make everyone I marry promise." He turned to me, getting Teo to translate, "I want you to treat Teo as you would want your son-in-law to treat your daughter." And then to Teo, "I want you to treat Shawn as you would want your daughter-in-law to treat your son." These are hypotheticals sons and daughters, of course.
During the entire ceremony, I was beaming. I couldn't help but to smile. And this made the priest happy as well, as every time our eyes made contact, he cracked a smile and nearly started laughing. He might have never seen anyone so tortuously and idiotically happy to wed, or perhaps he was just amused about getting to baptise and marry a foreigner, there was no way to tell.
I wasn't really sure at what point we said the "I do's", as they were speaking some ancient dialect of Georgian that I couldn't even begin to fathom translating myself, but I meant it in every way I could, even lacking the understanding of when I was agreeing to what vows. I just hope that there was nothing to do with child sacrificing or cannibalism, which I'm fairly certain there wasn't. The candles extinguished and the guests lined up to welcome us into our new lives as one.