We were recently privileged to take part in the wedding of Azer and Anna. It was the first wedding held at the church and so was very exciting for everyone.
Anna is originally from Russia and met Azer in Baku a couple years ago. Shortly after our family arrived here they asked if I would marry them and if they could have the ceremony at BIF. I told them it would be my honour.
In Azerbaijan marriage is a civil matter. Couples wanting to get married just go down to a government office and sign papers. That’s it. Then most Azeris have a large wedding party. There are dozens of ‘wedding houses’ accross the city where these parties are held.
Azer and Anna wanted to include God in their marriage and wanted His blessing on their union. So we had a marriage ceremony (blessing) in the church following a morning service. Many people stayed behind to support the couple. The room was decorated in blue and white. The bride wore a traditional white wedding dress. It was a lovely ceremony.
Later that night we attended the Wedding Party. The most noticeable element to Westerns like us was the music. It was VERY LOUD — I MEAN REALLY LOUD. Apparently it is always like that at an Azeri wedding. A couple hundred people sat around tables and we were served food the whole evening. We actually left after three hours before the main course (a rice dish) was served.
There was folk dancing, speeches and lots of happiness. The atmosphere was one of great joy and happiness. It was fascinating to us to be involved in this cultural experience. It also made me think of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Somehow I had never imagined it like that before. My ’marriage supper’ picture has always been of warm rubber chicken in a poorly lit room at the Holiday Inn followed by boring speeches full of inside jokes. (As a pastor I think I sat through too many of these.) This experience made me think of how exciting and fun the Marriage Supper will be. It will be a feast that goes on and on. It will have dancing and celebration and worship to God. It will include family and friends and the ones we love. And of course, Jesus will be there.
It was a real privilege to take part in the day. It made me long for something I had almost forgotten. I look forward to a celebration in heaven. Until then, may the Lord bless the union between Azer and Anna.