“They donned their colourful pareos and walked towards the pier at 2.30 pm. The sun shimmered over the tranquil turquoise lagoon. In the distance, thin white clouds crowned the top of Moorea’s volcanic peaks. The canoe arrived on time and took them past jagged mountains with a sharp drop to the sea. They passed a scattering of modest houses set amongst palm trees, an idyllic setting that time has forgotten.
When they approached the Tiki Village, the canoer blew in his shell, announcing the bride and groom’s arrival. The call was answered by the people at the Village who made a beeline to greet them on the beach. He was told to carry his bride ashore, for tradition states that she must not step in water.
Once at the beach, the couple were separated. The bride was taken into a thatched hut where four vahine massaged her with Manoi oil perfumed with the tiare flower. Ancient traditions were recounted in prose and song. They covered her in a white sheet and sang religious hymns to purify her soul before she could be accepted into the temple.
Meanwhile on the beach, four warriors tattooed the groom’s arms and back, each marking recounting a tradition. When they finished their artwork, they dressed him as a Tahitian chief and officially declared him “one of them”.
Dressed like a Tahitian princess, the bride heard the call of the groom from afar, in local tongue asking his love to come to him. Escorted by the four vahine towards the beach, she saw her handsome groom arrive over water by canoe.
The Chief Priest greeted them on dry sand and joined their hands before the tribe escorted them to the stone temple where the ceremony was to take place.
The Priest initiated the ceremony in Tahitian, with a translator close at hand. His tone was akin to music, each phrase was delivered with poetry. They were asked to exchange vows before their hands were placed on top of one another with symbolic leaves in between. A coconut was broken, its water pouring over their joined hands symbolising the union. They were given Tahitian names, Atoheiura Tane and Atoheiura Vahine as well as names for their first born. A wedding certificate made of bark was presented to them.
In the meantime the local villagers played their instruments and sang traditional songs before the bride and groom were told to enjoy a very long kiss. The ceremony ended with the couple wrapped in a matrimonial pareo and escorted out of the temple to sit into their royal chairs. Their accessories were changed to head crowns and a lei of fragrant flowers.
Four warriors carried them in their chairs and they paraded them around the village while music and songs filled the balmy air. Back on the ground, they were offered a traditional drink of Champagne while the band continued to play and the group of dancers performed in their honour.
The bride was invited by a tane to join the dance and the groom was escorted by a vahine. Each were shown how to move to the beat and no sooner they got the rhythm than the escorts withdrew leaving the bride and groom facing one another dancing the tamure.
Every villager including all the musicians and the dancers lined up to congratulate them.
The warriors carried them again in their royal chairs to the beach where the photographer captured special moments. After the obligatory family wedding portrait, they set off on a late afternoon cruise on the crystal waters while serenaded by traditional songs and the sound of ukulele.
The bride sipped champagne while admiring the view, that of a perfectly taut and tanned bottom in a G-string while the groom asked for more Champagne.
The honeymoon bungalow over the lagoon beckoned. Large and secluded, bar the tropical fish that swam beneath the glass floor. There were mirrors on the walls and ceiling. They sat on deck sharing a few drinks with their friends until the sun set over the horizon leaving a warm glow in the hearts of the newly-married couple.”
It was ten years ago… today.
The Tahitian wedding ceremony took place at the Tiki Village, Moorea, Tahiti.
The wedding song: “E vahine maohi e” by Fenua
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