This week’s post comes from the brilliant and lovely Angela, who I consistently describe as “one of the best people I’ll ever work with. Ever.” (She was also inspiration for my be-nice-to-everyone day in Chicago last year.) Recently, Angela became a mom to an adorable little girl (like, really recently. As in, LAST WEEK recently). Fortunately, a few weeks ago, as she sat around her house impatiently awaiting the arrival of her munchkin, she decided to kill some time by writing me a guest post! Keep in mind, this is a couple weeks old, so the baby of which she speaks has now arrived, and is an absolute cutie. But anyway, on to Angela’s post …

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By Angela Taylor Hylland
(a.k.a. Syntax Sorceress)

As I started writing this post, I couldn’t help by wonder if Geraldine would find it amusing or offensive, given that I wasn’t able to make it to her destination wedding in nearby Eastern Oregon two years ago. But since she likes to walk that line herself—one of her most endearing qualities, to be sure—I finally decided she would approve. The idea came to me yesterday as I was lounging around the house waiting for the impending birth of my first child. After you’ve run out of nesting projects, checked Facebook 100x too many, and caught up on your favorite blogs (including The Everywhereist, of course), you have a lot of time to think. And I’ve been thinking about the important lessons I’ve learned that I’d like to pass on to my child.

Oh the places these little feet will go …

Oh the places these little feet will go …

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At the top of that list:

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a wedding in a foreign land, GO.

At first read, that may seem superfluous at best and materialistic at worst. But the more I think about it, I realize just how high it would rank on my list of must-do’s.

Here’s why …

But first, a caveat: I’m not talking about destination weddings to someplace tropical that has no traditional significance to either the bride or groom—though those trips have their own charms. I’m talking about the rare opportunity to intimately experience a new land and understand the bride- or groom-to-be through a new lens. Now let’s continue.

As I was saying, here’s why:

  1. You will put Father Time in his place. Too often, amazing opportunities are bypassed for the sake of poor timing. That, my friends, is a travesty. When I was presented with a wedding invite to Spain—only two months before my own—it was hard to throw budgets, food tastings, and engagement photos to the wind. But I did. And when I was invited to Singapore smack dab between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was faced with overextending my vacation time, living 4 out of 6 weeks from a suitcase, and severely condensing my holiday shopping time. And again, I did. In both cases, life won out over practicality. And I couldn’t have been happier with the results.
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    Only a “yes” or a “no” stood between me and this.

    Only a “yes” or a “no” stood between me and this.

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  2. You will go places never imagined. Our college friend from Hong Kong invited us to his wedding in Singapore, the home of his fiancé. (Our friend’s name is, I shit you not, Fu Min Chu. But I digress.) That’s an 18-hour flight that I can honestly say I wouldn’t have ever considered otherwise. My only prior knowledge of the country? The sentencing of an American to a good old fashioned cane whoopin’. That’s just not something that calls out to you in the travel books. But my husband and I RSVP’ed “Yes” and soon discovered that this land of chewing gum arrests is the epitome of well-mannered cleanliness, with gorgeous old colonial architecture, bustling riverside dining, stunning Indian and Chinese neighborhoods, and arguably the world’s best zoo. At the same time, it’s eerily American, with its sprawling shopping centers and—in December, when we were there—a fascination for over-the-top Christmas decorations of near Vegas proportions.
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    The exotic: Singapore’s many intricate and colorful temples.

    The exotic: Singapore’s many intricate and colorful temples.

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    The familiar: Singapore’s sprawling shopping malls and Christmas fever.

    The familiar: Singapore’s sprawling shopping malls and Christmas fever.

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  3. You will belong where you didn’t before. Since all the guest are likely staying in the same vicinity, nearly everywhere you go you’ll run into your new wedding party friends. In Mallorca, the groom’s family booked us a room in a locally owned hotel, the first floor restaurant completely open to the beach of Port de Pollenca. Here we were enthusiastically greeted by our fellow wedding guests each sunny morning. By day two, the remote island town felt like home, or at least some sort of surreal international summer camp.
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    Walking our shirts over to the neighbors’ condo to borrow their ironing board.

    Walking our shirts over to the neighbors’ condo to borrow their ironing board.

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  4. You will learn that language is overrated. When you’re drinking with Catalans and Germans, trying to communicate with broken Spanish and hand signals, you might end up calling the bride’s brother-in-law “The Magician”—and thus make a new friend for life.
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    You don’t need to speak Catalan, English, German, or Spanish to find this picture hilarious.

    You don’t need to speak Catalan, English, German, or Spanish to find this picture hilarious.

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  5. You will see the larger picture. The Chinese wedding we attended served shark-fin soup. Understandably, outside of the Chinese culture, this is controversial, due to the ecological impact and the fact that sharks are often caught just for their fins, then thrown back to die. But we learned that, from the host families’ point of view, this dish is considered the upmost expression of hospitality. The idea of not serving it would be shameful and offensive to them. Of the seven American guests in attendance, about half ate the soup and half refused it. But regardless, we all learned something from the experience. It taught me a valuable lesson about getting all the facts before weighing in on matters outside of my everyday experiences.
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    This was just one course of our 3-hour multicourse wedding meal. At this Singapore wedding, it was all about the food.

    This was just one course of our 3-hour multicourse wedding meal. At this Singapore wedding, it was all about the food.

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  6. You will be treated like a celebrity. At our friends’ Catalan-German wedding, families vied to have their sons sit at our table, proudly proclaiming, “They can show off their English to the Americans!” (Meanwhile, their poor teenage sons smiled awkwardly, rolling their eyes and shrugging their shoulders when their strutting parents’ backs were turned. I still don’t know if they spoke a word of English … ) Even more impressive, at the Singapore wedding, the best man introduced us to the whole reception as part his toast, and we were given V.I.P. seating at the front-most table—all the better to watch the unexpected cover band performance, complete with drag singer-saxophonist.
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    The bride and groom were invited up to sing with the band. This was the bride’s third costume change of the evening.

    The bride and groom were invited up to sing with the band. This was the bride’s third costume change of the evening.

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  7. You will eat like you’ve never eaten before. In Mallorca, we were invited to join the bride and groom’s immediate families for the rehearsal night dinner at a family friend’s farm. Seriously, Martha Stewart would’ve been green with envy. Everything we were served that night consisted of ingredients from their farm: paella, olives, cheeses, sangria, cava, custard, and more. As if that wasn’t enough, we dined by candlelight in the Mediterranean air on the patio, the same snails used in the paella creeping across the tiles and up the posts of the patio. And you should’ve seen this paella “pan”—a near kiddie-pool-sized grill contraption. Incredible. It was easily one of the top 3 meals of my life.
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    Serious paella. Note the host’s American flag apron, which he somehow acquired and wore just for us.

    Serious paella. Note the host’s American flag apron, which he somehow acquired and wore just for us.

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So, this is what I will tell my child as soon as he or she is old enough to understand or cares to listen. And for what it’s worth, I impart the same words of wisdom to you:

One day, you may find yourself lucky enough to be face to face with an international invite. You’ll have two choices. You can either grumble to yourself, “Think of how much money that will cost. I don’t even know where this place is, and seriously, the timing couldn’t be worse.”

Or you can prepare for the trip of a lifetime.

Take it from me. Book the tickets.

  1. You will be treated like a celebrity. At our friends’ Catalan-German wedding, families vied to have their sons sit at our table, proudly proclaiming, “They can show off their English to the Americans!” (Meanwhile, their poor teenage sons smiled awkwardly, rolling their eyes and shrugging their shoulders when their strutting parents’ backs were turned. I still don’t know if they spoke a word of English … ) Even more impressive, at the Singapore wedding, the best man introduced us to the whole reception as part his toast, and we were given V.I.P. seating at the front-most table—all the better to watch the unexpected cover band performance, complete with drag singer-saxophonist.

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Comments (10)

  1. 1
    philip says:

    I promise to heed this advice always and to pass it on to my child and anybody else who will listen, because I believe, like the Everywhereist does, that you should just do what Angela tells you. You won’t be sorry.

  2. 2
    Everywhereist says:

    Let’s make W.W.A.D.? bracelets!!

  3. 3
    Deanna says:

    I’m willing to accept all her advice on the strength of “Syntax Sorceress.”

  4. 4
    Everywhereist says:

    Her official title at Cranium, I might add. I was “Princess Leia Organiza” (later, briefly, “The Royal Pen-in-Palm”) and Philip was “Shinebot 5000″.

  5. 5
    Molly says:

    Oh this post could not have come at a better time! I’m getting married in London in April and desperately hope my American friends will make the trip!

  6. 6
    Trisha says:

    Great advice – even when you read between the lines…..I love the subtle dig at “someplace tropical that has no traditional significance to either the bride or groom” and totally agree – if you’re going to leave home to get married, you really owe it to yourself to choose somewhere truly meaningful.

    Do I even want to know what ‘Shinebot 5000′ means?

  7. 7
    Everywhereist says:

    The origins of the “Shinebot” name are actually quite innocent – but it’s a longish story. :)

  8. 8

    First, congrats on your little one, and what a great ultrasound picture! My son has really big feet, and used to push them out against my belly, so hard that I could see/feel the outline and kept thinking, “Is that a foot?! It can’t be. Is that a leg?!” It was his feet – huge man feet. Anyway, nice post and good advice. So many people only think of reasons why NOT rather than whynot?

  9. 9
    greeta says:

    this post was brilliant. Congratulations on your munchkin!

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