W for Wedding
As happened so often, a foreign couple had booked a wedding on the beach. Sri Lanka was a famous destination for weddings as much as for honeymoons, and the Bentota Beach Hotel had a fair share in bookings.
The groom had opted for a black suit that was classical and neat. The bride, resplendent and radiating happiness in palpable waves, was dressed in the traditional Southern style of Sri Lanka.
She wore an off-white silk sari pleated meticulously at the front and tucked in at the waist. The gathered fabric covered her chest in a diagonal shape and sneaked over one shoulder to fall to the ground at her back. The shiny cloth was richly embroidered with golden and silver thread, and sequins and little sparkling stones in white and amber had been worked into the silk. The low-cut, matching blouse showed a good deal of midriff and slim waist, its intricately decorated sleeves reaching the bride’s elbows. The sunlight, reflected and intensified by the ocean, glittered tantalizingly on the bride’s sari and turned all eyes on her.
Her blonde hair had been tied into a big bun at the back of her head, covered in garlands of fragrant white jasmine flowers. She wore the traditional Sri Lankan wedding jewelry consisting of seven golden chains with a fan-shaped pendant, each of a different length. The longest one looped down below her navel. A golden choker with an elaborate pendant of two swans encircled her neck. A golden headband with tiny white stones wound round her head, with a drop-like pendant resting on the upper center of her forehead.
A bouquet of white and golden, spray-painted flowers as well as a golden chain belt around her hips made the outfit complete.
The couple was accompanied by two flower girls dressed in dark pink silk frocks with bows, and by two bridesmaids who looked like her younger sisters and wore sleeveless dark pink maxis tied at the neck. Their bouquets consisted of white and pink orchids, and they wore matching flowers in their hair.
The ceremony was about to start, and Sepalika’s gut clenched. No, she would not allow memories of her engagement or terror-tinged fantasies about her wedding to cloud this experience. Pressing her lips firmly together and digging her fingers into the sand, she looked on.
Drums and the whining, wheedling sound of a traditional flute signaled that the time was right. A procession of ethnically dressed men led the way. After the drummers and the whirling dancers with their bare, gold-chained chests and tinkling anklets, the couple, its family and a handful of guests walked toward the structure erected in the middle of the beach.
The wedding dais consisted of a small stage with two steps leading up to it. The white arch served as a trellis for more flower garlands. The floor of the stage was covered in flower petals, and two clay pots with woven yellow branches of coconut flowers—an auspicious sign—stood like sentinels at the sides of it.
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