Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Mexican Wedding

By the time we reached the church at San Pedro, Torreon the wedding ceremony had already started. It was decently big church which was half full with men and women dressed in their best suits and gorgeous gowns. Church was not so luminous, it had huge statue of Jesus Christ fixed on the wall, a stage with well embellished table. Ernesto and Karla were humbly seated in the front and the Church Father was bestowing words of wisdom upon the couple. The parents of bride and groom were seated just behind them. Karla was clothed with a beautiful white wedding gown and Ernesto in a black tuxedo. The bride-maids were alluringly dressed in pink strapless gowns with floral patterns.

The Pastor was lecturing on concepts of God, love and marriage. It went on for nearly 30 long minutes. Few excerpts*:
You're here because you Love each other.
After you go out from here, you both are husband and wife.
You both should be able to recognize each other from a kilometer apart.
Don't forget to love God and others.
You reckon God vertically and others horizontally (treat others equally).
The man should be kind and polite to his wife, for example he should open the car door for her.

*Thanks Alexandro Blanca for a real-time translation of Spanish verses to English.

It was followed by one of the most important events, "exchanging rings". Ernesto was so damn nervous that his fingers were trembling when giving them for ring, Karla had to hold it tight and slide the ring. They kissed each other and waited for the Pastor until he prepared for the next ritual. They both walked up the stage and the wine chalice was ready along with host (eucharistic bread). Pastor uttered few lines (mostly a verse or two from Bible) and he gave a sip each to the couple and then he fed them with a host each. Since it is the ritual of Christ, the wine signifies the blood of Christ and host is his flesh. The pastor had a gulp of wine in the end and then host was fed to some of the privileged members present there. This almost brought the ceremony to an end. The couple walked to the portrait of Christ, bowed down in devotion and then started walking out. That was a proud walk of the newly weds, Karla was in her ninth cloud and Ernesto held her hand ecstatically and slowly proceeded towards the exit.

Ernesto's Honda Accord was adorned with yellow flowers in a simple but elegant manner. The couple boarded the car and it made its way to somewhere I don't know, maybe a photo session or something.

We all gathered at the salon, at one of the golf clubs, in the evening. The foremost event there was the legalization of the wedding. It was an open balcony where the chairs and tables, everything in white, were arranged as if there was a conference. There were few attendees, mostly all bride maids, their boy friends, close relatives of the couple. Ernesto and Karla had to sign many documents, then followed their parents, relatives as witnesses. We all headed towards the banquet hall, which contained dining tables immaculately neat, containing a flower vase, steel plates, wine glasses and artistically rolled bib. There was dance floor on the other side and the stage was full of musicians. In one of the corners, two seats were majestically decorated with tonnes of flowers and candles for the couple.

As we took seats, we were asked to choose any drink among whiskey, rum, brandy, vodka, tequila, lemonade and coffee. The best part was that the cups were refilled infinitely without even taking your consent. The couple entered the banquet after everybody did, they were received with a standing ovation. Ernesto took Karla by hand and traversed the whole dance floor proudly before starting the dance. They danced to "Everything I do, I do it for you...", though its an apt song for a slow dance, the singer was pathetic. The tradition is that the couples should dance with each other's parents, Karla's mother danced with Ernesto, Ernesto's father danced with Karla.

After few numbers, the dinner was served. They started off with a thick, tasty and creamy broccoli soup. Then came chicken breast cooked in champagne and caviar which was creamy, soft and bland with garnish of mashed potato, broccoli and beans. Finally the dessert of raspberry cream was served. Dinner was short and filling.

PARTY TIME!!! Post dinner we had, the most awaited-for event, PARTY. The musicians started belting out typical Latino music and in no time the dance floor was sparkling with beautiful dancing people. There were young couples, old ones, singles, friends, relatives, bride maids, The Couple, letting their body sway to the tunes of the musicians. They danced Cumbia, Banda, Corridos, Danzón, Cha Cha Chá and Rock n Roll. People danced, took breaks in between, gulped down their tequilas, danced more, wore a wide smile - it was the moment of gay, joy, fun and frolic.

Few hours of dancing, it was time for the couple to raise the toast. They returned to their seats and raised their champagne glasses in grandeur, while the singer shouted "saloooood", we all raised our drink and it was the biggest community toast raising I had ever witnessed. Cake cutting followed this. More dance was in the store.

It was time for the snake to incarnate. All the unmarried lasses held each other's hands and started running among the tables, passing through the arch made by the holding hands of Ernesto and Karla. Then they assemble behind the bride and the bride throws a bouquet backwards. The myth goes that the maid who catches the bouquet will be the one who gets married next. It was now boy's turn. They formed a snake and ran around and assembled behind the groom. But the groom doesn't toss a bouquet but he tosses Garter of the bride (she wears two garters on her wedding, one to keep her stocking and other for throwing and the groom removes the garter there, just before throwing) to the bunch of boys. As per the custom, the boy who catches it, should put it on the girl who would have caught the bouquet, and they would get married. But not sure if that happened. To add more fun, one of the bride maids handed over a glass of water to Ernesto. While the music stopped, instead of throwing garter he tossed the water in the glass and guys were splashed. Finally garter was tossed.

More music and dance followed. Ernesto and Karla kept meeting people, talking to them, having a drink or two with them. At long last the music stopped. It was 4 in the morning and the crowd dispersed and that brought to an end of the ceremony.

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