Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Wedding: Part Two

Well, it was just lovely.

The bride looked stunning (but then she was a slender little 18-year-old so why wouldn't she?) She only got her dress the day before; brought down from the US by a relative. We asked her if she had been concerned it wouldn't fit, but she just shrugged. If it hadn't, a swarm of people would have descended upon it and made it work. One of the things I've learned and love about Mexicans is that they can fix anything; and well. The groom, literally the boy next door and life-long friend, was dashing.

Bride and her father arriving at the church

The ceremony started right on time, which is worthy of note to anyone who is familiar with "Mexican time." Our parish church offered a glorious setting, which made up for the refreshing lack of pomp and circumstance.  The bride's mother in her newly purchased striped cotton top simply walked the bride down the aisle unaccompanied by music, bridesmaids, or flower girls. Then the bride and groom sat in chairs in front of the altar while the priest said mass (complete with collection plate!) In accordance with Mexican law, the couple had already been married in a civil ceremony, but the church blessing is more important to most Mexicans. After a lengthy talk by the padre addressed directly to the couple that I couldn't quite hear, they were pronounced married in the eyes of God.

Used to the traditional triumphant walk back down the aisle, I was at first a little taken aback when people then got up from the pews and started milling around. I soon realized that this was time for the photo ops. The couple stood in front of the altar with various permutations of family and friends.

The bride and groom with her brothers and sister

After everyone had had their turn, they began drifting out of the church. And that's when the fun began.

Mariachi's, in their best wedding whites, were playing in the church courtyard. It was they who chanted, "beso, beso, beso (kiss, kiss, kiss)" and after the first chaste peck called for "otra, otra, otra (more, more, more)."

After a while, we all repaired to our town's visitors center for the reception. The mariachi's continued to play (for the next four hours!) in the hall that was set up with tables all decorated in white. There was a top table for the bridal couple and their families and a multi-tiered cake. But that's where the resemblance to a gringo wedding stopped.

Instead of wine and Champagne, each table had a huge bottle of tequila, bottles of soda, a tub of ice and plastic cups so we could help ourselves. This made the assembled group very happy.

The meal was cooked and served by the families and consisted of chicken mole and rice, carnitas, and tortillas. All absoltely delicious. During the meal, a lady came around with a basket of gifts for the women. Despite the fact that I held out my hand, she steadfastly ignored me. When I asked someone who was the recipient of the largess what it was, she showed me a rosary. Fair enough. The gift dispenser had me pegged for the heathen that I am.

In honor of the occasion, the tortillas were wrapped in monogrammed cloths.

After we were all sated, the dancing commenced and a good time was had by all.

Well, there's always someone

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Wedding: Part One

I've never totally understood the cult of weddings. According to this survey, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. in 2012 was $28, 427! (And that's not counting the honeymoon.) That's a down payment on a house or a new car. I've seen the months of stress and anxiety brides put themselves through planning these wing-dings down to the last detail. Then there's the almost inevitable family strife and hurt feelings about stuff like who's picked to be the bridesmaids or the seating charts at the reception.

The weddings I've been to have been memorable not for the type face on the invitations or the centerpieces on the tables, but for the moving speech the best man made or the entertaining thing the drunk uncle did. I've never given a crap about whether the cake is lemon or chocolate. After a couple of glasses of Champagne, it goes down well whatever it is. Oh, and the dress! Here's the thing about that: the bride is always the most beautiful woman in the room regardless of what she wears. I'd be shocked if anyone actually noticed the specific pin tucks or the precise placement of the spangles.

Of course, the reality TV world just about wets its pants in excitement over the opportunities wedding planning offers for drama devolving into hysteria. Bridezillas. Say Yes to the Dress. Way too many others to mention.

Don't pretend you don't know who this guy is.

So call me the wedding Grinch if you like; I'm quite happy to cop to it. But today I'm attending a wedding here in my little Mexican town and have to admit I'm looking forward to it.

Let me tell you how it's gone down so far. Last week, the lovely young bride and groom hand delivered the invitations around town. I RSVP'd to them in the affirmative right there on my door step. The first printing of the invitation had a typo on it, but they used them anyway and just told people the time of the church ceremony was 3:00 pm not 13:00 (one o'clock). I got one of the second printing with the correct time.

The invitation was hand delivered to my house

Yesterday I bumped into the mother of the bride and asked how things were going. Great, she told me. In this part of Mexico the groom's family pay for the wedding so she was just cruising. I asked how many people they were expecting. Three hundred. Or maybe 350. When my eyes widened and my jaw dropped, she rather defensively said, "Well, it is two families." That's not the thing, I explained. Aren't you concerned about knowing how many to cater for? She dismissed that with a wave of her hand. They were cooking mucho, mucho carnitas y barbacoa. Plenty to go around no matter who showed up. However, she had needed to go around town knocking on doors asking if friends could accommodate out-of-towners and had found beds for them all. I jokingly said if those other 50 showed up about 25 could camp in my courtyard. Yes, she said, and 25 could sleep on the roof. (Yikes!)

On to the important stuff: what was she wearing? She didn't have anything and was going out to buy something that afternoon. I did mention that was the day before the wedding? Maybe I should have copied her on this in case she's unaware of  the "seamless entourage" factor.

Let's just take a moment to recap here. There were no save-the-date notices six months out and no three part wrapped-in-tissue engraved invitations requiring a response as to whether you were bringing a plus one. There's no seating plan at the reception and no one's sure just how many are going to show up. The families and friends are cooking the food. The mother of the bride has not pre-planned her outfit: OMG, what if she's wearing the same color as the groom's mother? And what if San Luis de la Paz is out mother-of-the bride dresses?

Clearly, this wedding has disaster written all over it. Come back tomorrow for a full report complete with pictures.

The wedding is going to be here in San Pedro's: so that's good

Have to go now as the wedding is shortly and I still need to figure out what to wear.