WEDDING TRADITIONS IN FRENCH POLYNESIA
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Noran and Jay’s wedding was one of a kind. The couple wanted a unique and exclusive experience to share only with their closest friends and family, and to combine their wedding with their honeymoon. They made the right decision when calling LLG to organize their unforgettable destination wedding. In March 2019, we landed on a mysterious, exotic and idyllic island: Bora Bora.
Bora Bora has so much more to offer than dreamy landscapes. Beyond the white-sand beaches and the turquoise sea, there’s a fascinating culture. Indeed, little did we know about the kind and welcoming French Polynesian people living untouched by time on the marvelous Island of Bora Bora. When organizing Noran and Jay’s wedding, our research led us to discover a little more about the French Polynesian culture and their ancestral traditions which piqued our curiosity. We quickly understood that Noran and Jay’s wedding would be even more wonderful if enhanced by some French Polynesian weddings’ traditions added to their western wedding style. Our dear couple was directly charmed by this idea as they wanted to incorporate a local touch to their big day. Thus, this is how, Noran and Jay exchanged their vows wearing beautiful crowns of fresh flowers a few months later.
We came back from Bora Bora totally changed and revived from this amazing experience. The French Polynesian culture simply blew us away and touched our hearts forever. Thus, it was important for us to share our memories of some beautiful French Polynesian wedding traditions:
Since the wedding ceremony usually takes place on a beach, it is customary for the bride or the groom (depending on the resorts and your personal tastes) to arrive on a canoe called a va’a. The couple is then escorted to a flower and/or leaves circle or heart representing a ring of love.
Marking the beginning of the ceremony, the conch blower will majestically blow in the conch shell - called the Pu. This important tradition call on every surrounding natural elements such as the sea, the air, the fire, and the land to witness the wedding. It also usually gives the starting point to the bride so she can start her walk down the aisle.
The Tahitian priest will then bless the couple with sacred Auti leaves tied as a bracelets, considered as royal and luxurious flower leaves symbolizing spirituality, purity and protection. The expression “tying the knot” has never been so accurate, isn’t it?! Pure lagoon water, or coconut water, is then poured on the bracelet in order to wash sins away.
After being purified by water, the couple exchanges crowns and necklaces of flowers called Lei, representing an eternal circle of love. In the French Polynesian culture, it is customary to wear a Lei in joyous events - And what’s more joyous than a wedding? This beautiful tradition is then directly followed by the exchange of vows and rings. The rings’ exchange is a very intense moment during the Tahitian wedding spiritualized by the Nature Prayer pronounced by the priest.
The couple’s union will then be blessed by a Tifaifai. This gorgeous popular red blanket (traditionally made by the mothers and grandmothers of the couple) is believed to bring love, honor, and respect in the couple’s life. The Tifaifai tradition is the most important one since it is the moment when the couple is officially pronounced husband and wife and can exchange a kiss.
The newly-wed are finally given secret Tahitian names that only them know. The legend says that these names appeared in the priest’s dreams in the night prior to the wedding.
All of these strong symbolic traditions are followed by the wedding party which can also be rythmed by Tahitian music and dances, which we had the chance to witness during Noran and Jay’s wedding who played the game until the end of the night. After profound spiritual moments and emotional traditions, the couple can experience another side of the French Polynesian culture: The Party. And trust us, Tahitians definitely know how to party!
If you were looking for an exotic country with wonderful spiritual traditions and a deep culture of celebration, Bora Bora is probably the best place for you to explore next!