Lebanese Wedding

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(Part 2 of my Lebanese/Turkish recap; for Part 1, see previous post.)

Prior to any trip abroad, I do my homework. Brush up the country’s history, politics and culture. And scrutinize maps.

My dad was a map-junkie and he always studied city streets and rural roads linking towns, long before he stepped off the plane. I’ve always tread along the same track.

…except with this trip.

This time, I invested zero preparation and foisted all the planning on my mother. (Thanks Mom.) She researched the flights, plotted our vacation and booked hotels. And, she actually reviewed the emails that circulated regarding my cousin’s wedding — the reason for this trip.

This is my cousin Bryan, by the way.

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Bryan is California born and raised, but he’s lived in Beirut for years. He’s a freelance photographer and has worked in Afghanistan, Georgia and Yemen, among other dicey locations. (Click here to view his photos of Syria.)

Anyway, I never read the emails, nor did I scan a map. Two nights before our flight, I googled Lebanon and weddings (my top priority: dress-code suggestions.)

After a few hours of clicking, I gleaned the following:

–Beirut is not a top tourist destination and travel information is lacking.

Concerning matrimony:

–A Lebanese wedding is cause for several days of pre-partying, clubbing and other festivities.

–The dress code for weddings and related events is, well… dressy. (I combed several photo galleries from unknown Lebanese couples who posted pixs.)

 

Bryan’s wedding didn’t deviate from these tenets. 

We arrived several days early to partake in the activities leading up to the big day.

We toured historic towns…

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…and journeyed to a fishing village where we swam,

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…before we ate.

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Nice fish, Stuart

 

Bryan and his fiancee arranged an excursion to the Bekaa Valley and a vineyard — a lush oasis ensconced in green.

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Of course just beyond vineyard gates, the scenery took a sharp turn.

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Here’s nearby construction on a highway to Damascus… not likely to be completed any time soon.

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There were nights of clubbing (at venues too dark for photos.)

The day before the wedding, Maria’s family hosted a pool party…

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…complete with belly dancer.

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Pre-wedding pomp continued right up to the ceremony. Guests socialized with the bride (and groom, at a nearby location).

Maria and bridesmaids

Maria and family

 

I gave my uncle some last minute advice. Not sure what I was saying, but I gave it the hard sell.

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Then, it was marriage time. We filed into the church, Bryan and Maria were hitched (see photo at the top)…

…and then it was back to music, dancing, booze and food.

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That’s the final photo I snapped. Thereafter, I abandoned my phone and camera, only scooping them up when I departed around 4 am — apparently on the early side of a Lebanese wedding.

Final pixs of Istanbul to come….