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1 Monty: Ginny and Erwin got married?! You attended their wedding??!!
2 Sallah: I gave away the bride.
2 Monty: You gave away Ginny???!!!
3 Sallah: The dancing went all night.
3 Monty: You danced with Ginny????!!!!
4 Sallah: The cake was beautiful.
4 Prof. Jones: You didn't save me a slice?????!!!!!
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The first time I went to a wedding in the USA, I was surprised and amused to see that, after cutting the cake in the traditional fashion, the bride and groom then proceeded to pick up a piece of cake each and simultaneously feed the pieces to one another. This playfully developed into a slightly messy affair as the bride and groom smushed cake onto the area immediately around the mouth of their new spouse, while the attending guests clapped and cheered.
I thought this was an original and amusing piece of byplay that the bride and groom had presumably discussed as an idea beforehand, being somewhat playful and creative personalities.
Later in the evening, as events progressed to dancing, I was even more amused when the DJ announced a playing of The Hokey Pokey, that standard novelty dance song much loved by kids and traditionally used at kids' parties. Well, I thought, that's a truly bizarre choice of song for a wedding reception, but hey, I guess the happy couple are fans of it or something. There proceeded a mass dancing of the Hokey Pokey by the wedding guests, and much fun was had by all.
I went back to my hotel thinking that was certainly fun, but the most unusual wedding reception I'd ever been to. It was nice to see the bride and groom take so much creative control over the events of the evening, initiating unusual things to give their wedding a unique and defining character that matched their personalities. And then for years I thought nothing more of it.
Some years later, I had occasion to attend another wedding in the USA.
Things proceeded beautifully until the cutting of the cake. This went as expected, but then I was stunned when the bride and groom picked up pieces of cake and simultaneously smushed them into each others' mouths, making a small mess of their faces in the process. Everyone else was cheering, while I was thinking, "Holy cow... this is the second time this has happened at a wedding I've been to! What are the odds of that?!" I quickly came to the conclusion that this theatrical piece of byplay might actually be some sort of wedding tradition in the USA.
The evening progressed and much fun was being had by all. The wedding had a 50s rock'n'roll theme, and various appropriate songs of the era had guests up and dancing. And then the DJ announced that it was time for The Hokey Pokey. My jaw almost hit the floor. Here was a second American wedding tradition that I'd had no inkling of until that second. The Hokey Pokey would be seen as an extremely unusual song choice at weddings in Australia, yet here I was experiencing it at two American weddings out of two.
This was a memorable lesson in cultural differences, even between two cultures as similar as Australia and the USA. Despite knowing many of the distinctive things that make these cultures unique and different, I'd tacitly assumed - having no prior evidence to the contrary - that weddings in one country were pretty much the same as weddings in the other. It's only when you attend a wedding in a different culture that you become intimately aware of the minor nuances and that make it distinctive from your expectations.
The Hokey Pokey? At weddings? Wow.
Of course, Australians can't talk. I've been to many weddings here where everyone eagerly rushes on to the dance floor when the DJ starts spinning up Tina Turner's Nutbush City Limits, to form that distinctively bizarre dance known as The Nutbush.
Every tradition is weird when looked at from outside.
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