Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Wedding of Tony and Regina

In the previous post, I mentioned that normally in PNG two people are considered married when they have received permission from their respective parents to become married to each other.  The state does nothing to regulate marriage, and so this procedure is generally considered acceptable also by the church.  Once in a while though, a couple from the church wants to have what they consider an especially Christian wedding and by that they mean something like what we do in Canada, where they are more consciously aware also of being married in the presence of God.  That is the context of the wedding we were privileged to attend.  Tony had just graduated from the Reformed Bible College and is ready to be the candidate pastor of the church in Awan, and Regina insisted that they wait with marriage until now because of her deep Christian commitment.  All the photos here are ours since Jerry functioned as the photographer that day as he had the best camera on the premises.   

The bride, Regina, wore a white wedding dress, uncommon here, that an aunt had made. She saw it for the first time on Thursday, and liked it. The top piece had all smocking in it. When she tried it on, it fit, but the shoulder straps were too long and a lot of the smocking came apart at the seams. That shows how poorly it was made! So on Friday I spent a couple of hours redoing the smocking and shortening the straps. A big job, but I got I it finished on time. 

On Saturday morning the bride got dressed in Versteeg's house. She had 2 bridesmaids who wore pretty blue dresses that had been used before. An aunt had picked flowers from the property and made a nice bouquet for the bride, and the bridesmaids had artificial flowers. Regina looked very pretty. 

Regina with her parents. Her mom is a member of the church in Beretete, but her father doesn't go.

Her father gave her away. Notice the flowers in his shirt pocket.

The groom, Tony, borrowed a suit from someone, and it was too big, but it worked. 
He looked sharp in his suit and tie and even black shoes. Must have been hot for him!

The wedding was at 9:00 am in one of the classrooms. Balloons were hung up and chairs and benches were rearranged, and the room was filled with family and guests. The bridesmaids walked in without music, and so did the bride with her father. The kids sat on the floor and moved around, walking in and out as desired. Rev. Versteeg gave an excellent message, mixing both English and Pidgin so everyone could understand it. They had gold rings, made from two coins. Cost was about $4. They did not kiss, since that is not done in public, and neither did they hold hands. After being pronounced husband and wife, they greeted each other with a handshake.

Rev. Versteeg officiated their marriage

Singing during the service

Henry and Rita Versteeg with the bride and groom

After the ceremony, everyone went outside and waited for the meal. No coffee or tea or refreshments or alcohol. When the women were finished digging up the food from the mumu and putting all the big pots on the bamboo tables, they put food in styrofoam dishes and we could pick it up, find a spot on the tarp or grass or chairs, and eat. People are so used to sitting on the ground. Even the bride and older women sat cross-legged on the ground. Juice was coloured sugar water served to everyone. Jerry and I ate some of the food, but we're careful to eat only what we knew would be safe. We had to take something, though. Otherwise we would offend them. 

Putting food and dishes on the bamboo table

Sitting on the tarp for their meal

Tony and Regina sharing their meal together

Cutting the cake - the only food they bought. Everyone got a little piece.

Regina thanked me for fixing her dress

Jerry talking to one of the students at the wedding

Everyone had a good time just talking together, and by 2:00 it was all over and people walked back home, or took the PMV (Public Moving Vehicle) part way and walked the rest. Henry Versteeg packed 16 people in his jeep and brought them 1 1/2 hours away. Good taxi service!

It was a good wedding, simply done, in a Christian way, without any extras. It did not rain so we could be outside. When the people were gone, the bride put on her regular clothes and helped the women wash dishes (by the hose) and clean up the tables and garbage. That night she moved into her husband's cabin here at the Bible College. The next morning they went with us in our jeep to church. No honeymoon for them - no money for that.

We were privileged and honoured to have witnessed and participated in this lovely event.

So now, for the next wedding in your family, you can consider doing it PNG style. You'll even have money left over...for the mortgage...which they don't have here either...hmmm...in some ways they seem to be ahead of us :).


  1. It sounds wonderful and sincere. I'm so glad you have the opportunity to experience and share their culture with us.

  2. What a wonderful experience. Maybe we can learn from that, as we spend a lot of money here on our weddings, and at the end of the day does it make a difference. .

  3. Brilliant! What a lovely, lovely way to be married. Goes to show you that our culture is so over the top! Who needs all those expensive trappings anyways?
    Thank you for sharing.
    Thea Heyink