Some brides-to-be dream of walking down the aisle in a white dress, but not Randi Lass. For years she had dreamed of visiting Bhutan, and when she and her fiancé, Patrick Reyes, decided to make the trip, Randi had an idea. Why not make the experience even more memorable by celebrating their wedding in Bhutan? With Patrick’s enthusiastic agreement, Randi contacted Myths and Mountains to see if it would be possible to arrange a traditional Bhutanese wedding celebration during a READ Global program in November 2011. The answer was a resounding yes.
The wedding was held at a 350-year-old farmhouse owned by the family of one of Myths and Mountains’ Bhutanese partners. In a Bhutanese wedding, the man comes to the woman, so Randi was picked up early in the morning and brought to the farmhouse, where the hosts helped her dress in a kira, the traditional women’s garment. The wedding guests, who included Myths and Mountains President Toni Neubauer, fellow trip participants, staff from Myths’ Bhutanese partner companies, and relatives of the farmhouse owners, arrived later in a procession with the groom, who was wearing the traditional men’s garment known as a gho. After traditional celebrations in the courtyard, the actual marriage ceremony was held in a special prayer room, with lamas conducting the rites in the ancient formal manner. Afterward there was traditional entertainment and lunch at the farmhouse.
“It takes a lot of planning to do something like that,” Neubauer says. “You have to check the astrology to see what day and time to do it. Nothing is left to chance because an error in planning could start the marriage off all wrong.”
“The wedding was way beyond our wildest dreams. I can't say wildest expectations because we really had none. Patrick and I decided come what may. The entire day was nothing short of magical,” says Randi. “We both laughed and cried because it was so hard to even believe it was reality. The ceremony by the head lama was more moving than anything I've ever experienced.”
The most memorable moment for Randi was standing at the front of the house waiting for the wedding to begin, and seeing the huge procession coming down from the mountains. “There were flags, horns, all of these wonderful people, and then there was Patrick,” she says. “There are no words for that moment.”
Randi and Patrick were also touched by how many people came to celebrate with them, how joyful they were over the couple’s happiness, and the tremendous hospitality of the Bhutanese people. Randi describes the feeling: “When each of them came up and presented us with white scarves, gifts, and other things, it was so hard to accept and so humbling when I know how little these people have materially. The most touching was when Dasho, the family patriarch, presented us with an actual stone from the farmhouse.”
The other Myths and Mountains participants welcomed the opportunity to share Randi and Patrick’s joy and the chance to experience Bhutanese culture from the inside. In preparation for the event they all went out and bought their own kiras, ghos, and traditional boots. “It was the highlight of the trip, without any question,” Neubauer says. “One of the things that makes Myths and Mountains a exceptional company is that we can pull off something like this. The wedding was a momentous occasion for everyone involved.”
For more wonderful photos of Randi and Patrick's Bhutanese wedding,visit their Facebook page.