Lani Writes: A dance of love
Above: Leilani Momoisea and her new husband David Dallas dance the Siva Samoa.
The only real nervousness I felt on my wedding day was just before I did my mo’emoe’e, or run, into the Siva Samoa. In front of everyone, but especially my Samoan relatives, I wanted to dance with confidence and grace.
The night before, my Aunty Ipu had helped me brush up on my skills, every movement of hers so effortless. I remembered her advice as I bowed to acknowledge our guests: “Always follow your hands with your eyes, and smile.” Soon the bar erupted with cries of “choohoo!” as aunties and uncles swarmed and slapped the floor, or slapped money onto me. Bar staff stopped to watch, and nieces and nephews, brothers, sisters and parents joined in. My friends jockeyed for a view as my cousins lifted me, and my husband of a few hours, onto their shoulders. The smiling, the laughter, the noise, the relief to have not messed up my siva, amassed into one of my favourite moments of the day.
I was married in a large rose nursery, rose petals covering the aisle running between rows of rose bushes. White lanterns hung from above. About 15 minutes passed from the time I walked down that aisle, arm in arm with my father while Jamiroquai’s “Spend A Lifetime” played, to the time my husband and I said “I do”.
It was, as I’m sure all brides say of their wedding, perfection. It was better than I could have hoped for, a dream. I had possibly been a little overly relaxed about my wedding leading up to it.
Perhaps it was because the commitment a couple makes on their wedding day, in front of friends and family, had been a commitment we felt we’d already made privately for some years now. There was no mystery, no expectation that anything would change — only certainty from 12 years of being together.
But I had underestimated how much people’s joy multiplies when shared. Even strangers on the street happily waved and beeped as our bridal car drove by. I had not expected just how meaningful, how deep, it would feel to say those vows in front of the people you love, and just how much love comes back to you that day. My face hurt from smiling, a grin from ear to ear.
It was a small wedding by islander standards, a large wedding by palagi standards, and a party by any standard — a family reunion and a village reunion all in one. The DJ switching to Mariah Carey to keep both young and old happy; friends almost eating the wedding cake before it was cut; seeing an uncle who you’ve never even seen drink before, drunk.
In the weeks since, little memories come back to make me smile, small details of a big day. What sticks with me the most is how beautiful it was to see, how happy people can be for another’s happiness.