Friday 28th March 2014
Our wedding day in Batumi, Georgia started bright and early, we met with Mamuka at 9.30 to eat Khachipuri and drink coffee in preparation for a big day. Once caffeinated enough to numb our nerves we went to collect Layla, who had kindly offered to be my bridesmaid for this special day.
We were driven in the GoBatumi tours van to Batumi’s local theatre and dance studio and panic set in that Mamuka was going to try and teach us to dance! We went inside and met with the owner of the studio in a room filled with costumes, she was going to dress us for the wedding. A sigh of relief escaped me, dancing is not our forte, but luckily, choosing wedding outfits is. There were stunning dresses of all colours all around the room, the mens clothes were heavy and laden with bullets, again in all kinds of great colours.
I was like a kid in a sweet shop.
We tried on several outfits, but as per in this wedding game, as soon as I put the ‘one’ on; and had finished picking on Alex for looking like one of the Sworn Brothers of the Nights Watch from The Game Of Thrones, I was ready to go get married.
We still had no idea what George and Mamuka had planned so we dressed excitedly and after a few silly poses bundled back in the van to find an entire camera crew. The four strong N Studio were a great laugh and we sang all the way to the wedding location.
It seemed our love for wine had been iterated a few times as George and Mamuka had arranged for us to hold a ceremony in a beautiful vinyard. Georgia was the first country in the world to cultivate grapes to make wine and the first ever wine making region so it seemed perfectly matched that we would marry where todays wine is made.
The Adjarian Wine House is a beautiful property built upon the ruins of an 18th century winery. We were welcomed with a glass of Chacha and a tour of the cellars while we waited for the gentlemen who were to make our ceremony a truly traditional Georgian one.
The five gentlemen arrived (I can’t even pronounce their names let alone spell them), 4 of them in full traditional dress similar to Alex’s and one in a red jacket and decorated sash, he would hold the ceremony for us.
Once everyone arrived it all happened so quickly, we took some pictures and then were called over where the 5 gentlemen waited for us with swords in the air creating an arch for us to step through leading us to an upturned wine barrel which held glasses of wine, our rings and a certificate to sign.
Our man in red held us a short ceremony in the Georgian language and everyones claps at the end alerted us to believe that this was where we kissed.
Everyone was laughing and came over with glasses of wine raised as we signed the certificate.
It all seemed short and sweet but what we were to learn is that the important part of the celebrations in Georgia happen at the Supra. We said our farewells to the people at the wine house and took off again in the van. We went to an old bridge on our way back to the city and bumped into a bunch of Ukranians who had been partying all morning and were so excited to see us all in our traditional garb, leading to lots of pictures on precarious edges with drunken men.
We had a great laugh about it and set off back to Batumi to the Supra planned at the Old Boulevard Restaurant. We were expecting a few drinks and some nibbles before everyone went home for the evening but it turned into an evening of singing, drinking out of horns, toasting like there was no tomorrow, dancing and piano playing. I often say that we felt blessed but that is not a strong enough description for the feeling I had at that supra. The Georgian hospitality in general was the warmest we have ever exxperienced, but that evening was something else.
As we arrived at Old Boulevard the 5 gentlemen who had held our ceremony began to sing as they walked us inside.
I immediately had goosebumps and very soon after I had tears rolling down my cheeks. The sound was indescribably beautiful. The men sang until we arrived at the table and had our glasses charged. One of the men assumed the roll of Tamada and made his first toast of many.
The Georgians are famed for their polyphonic singing and we got to witness it first hand. Such incredible harmony and volume from just 5 men, it was truly the most amazing singing I have ever heard. The evening was filled with wine and laughter in-between bouts of singing, toasting, dancing and demanding more wine.
The video is just a small clip from a good few hours of eating, singing and drinking but it will give you a rough idea of how the supra works.
We had heard the phrase a few times that the Georgians see a guest as a gift from God, we certainly felt that we were treated like Kings, but little did our new friends know that they had given us the gift. The gift of friendship, warmth and hospitality like we had never known.