We all like weddings, don’t we? At least, I do (pun intended).
A while ago, Katie from Seashells and Sunflowers wrote a post on her engagement photos and upcoming wedding on her blog. The post, the photos and the comments inspired me to organize a group post about weddings with fellow bloggers Katie, Aledys (From Argentina to the Netherlands), and Wendy (Vivir el momento). We’re all expats and our husbands/partners are from countries other than our own. The idea is to share the memories of our weddings or wedding traditions and experiences in our countries or the countries where we live now as expats.
Sean and I got married in May, 2005. We lived in Buenos Aires, in a gorgeous apartment in a lovely part of town. But sadly all good things come to an end: we decided to move to Dallas because of Sean’s job. Our wedding was going to be our farewell to friends, family and the city we loved so much.
The first big decision was where to have the wedding. I’m not talking about which church or which banquet hall but which country: Argentina or the UK? I wanted to elope to Barbados! But we chose to fly his folks to Argentina. So as well as wedding planner, I became a travel agent.
In Argentina, the civil wedding is the only legally binding marriage. A religious ceremony is optional and usually takes place the weekend after the civil wedding. Our civil wedding was on a Friday and the church and reception took place on the following Saturday. Because it is an official occasion, it is conducted entirely in Spanish. It was fine with Sean -his Spanish is up to par- but his parents and siblings were completely in the dark. A very good friend of mine was going to translate the ceremony for them but she was suddenly taken ill and was in hospital. Some passages of the church wedding were in English as well as in Spanish.
While we were waiting for our turn outside the Registry Office of Haedo (in the western suburbs of Buenos Aires), one of my sisters heard a young boy say to his mum “Look! A man wearing a skirt!” That was Sean. He was wearing his kilt and gillie shirt, an outfit extremely rarely seen in the Pampas… (In case you were wondering, that’s the Ancient Ferguson tartan.)
I almost gave up on a religious ceremony. The Catholic Church has too many requirements: book the date, pay for the flowers and other expenses, attend a short course delivered by the priest and submit a baptism certificate issued especially for the occasion. Soviet bureaucracy sounds like a walk in the park compared to this. They wouldn’t accept Sean’s baptism certificate because it was a copy and not an original. I sent an irate email to the Diocese; the bishop’s secretary waved his magic wand and made everything right.
At one point during the religious ceremony, the priest asked us to kneel. I heard laughter behind me. What was going on? Sean looked at me sheepishly and said “I’m sorry”. He’d written OH! NO! on the soles of his shoes. Much needed comic relief.
Wedding receptions in Argentina last all night long. Literally. Breakfast is usually served at around 5 am and it’s very welcome after so much dancing (and horsing around and drinking). After dinner, the cake, the toast and the first dance, comes the disco and carnaval carioca.
The first dance is usually a Viennese waltz, although Sean chose a song by the great Stevie Ray Vaughn, followed by waltzes (although we hadn’t practised beforehand, we did a decent job). Then those who wish to do so can join the twirling pair. The carnaval carioca comes late in the night. This is when everyone lets loose -if they haven’t already- and dance to very lively music, generally Brazilian, and people wear silly hats and throw confetti.