A Peruvian Wedding: Day Two

The lights dimmed and then went out in the large church.  Perhaps the priest told us what was about to happen, but since I don´t speak Spanish much, I certainly had no idea what was going on.  But there the bride and groom were, slowly walking towards the back of the church.  Was the service over? 

No, they were strolling towards a little chapel at the rear, where a candle was lit on a small altar. They kneeled at the altar and then together lit a candle and began the journey back to the front of the church tentatively holding the candle and trying to keep the flame alive.  Their faces glowed in an orange light and all was dark, except when people´s flash cameras lit up the room.  So many photos being taken — it was like a lightning storm, only no thunder, only clicks.

As they walked, we listened to a little ensemble comprised of two violins, a flute, a keyboard, and female vocalist. Lovely music.  Not traditional Andean flute music but sometimes hints of that. I loved listening to it and looking around at the mosaics and decorations — lots of gold in this church, which was a Chinese Catholic church (so there were also some decorations that looked Asian — very interesting combination).

The bride´s dress included a very long train, and as with all brides, she had trouble navigating the aisles with all that fabric.  The groom, like all grooms before him, had no idea how to be of use in the train department. 🙂  One of our undergrad students remarked that the bride needed a good bridesmaid!  You see, there were no bridesmaids or groomsmen, only a ¨patrone,¨the sort of sponsor of the marriage, in this case the brother of the bride and former roomate of the groom (he had introduced the couple).

Despite all of the challenges of walking with the yards of fabric while both people carried a lit candle, trying desperately not to let the flame puff out, they made it to the altar.  The lights came back on and there were more ceremonial standing ups followed by sitting downs.  Mass was celebrated.  Paperwork was signed (our two de facto group leaders on the trip had been asked by the groom to be his witnesses!)

Eventually the service was over, but the undergrads felt disappointed because there was no ¨You may kiss the bride¨ part. We decided that just as we were not really in Peru until the immigration official stamped our passport, the bride and groom were not really married until they kissed!

We had our wish at the reception (which was held in a home converted into a party rental hall).  The tables were outside under a big tent and everything looked very formal and beautiful.  The bride´s wedding decoration color was a bright orange with green accents.  We waited over an hour for the bride and groom to arrive, but meanwhile the wait staff served drinks and appetizers.  Everything was delicious, and we all enjoyed chatting. I was fortunate to be at a table with the de factor leaders of the group and they knew some of the Peruvian guests, who came over.  After introducing me to them, I was able to enjoy some great conversations with these folks.  Their English was good and my Spanish not so good, but we communicated fine.

Once the happy couple arrived, they were introduced and we clapped, they had their first dance together and we watched, they danced with all the special people in their lives (mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters).  Then there was a toast.  Actually, that was funny — it took a while to give the bride and groom their champagne because the server slipped TWICE in the same place and spilled their special champagne glasses all over the dance floor in one spot.  He kept stepping in the same spot when he came back with more champagne to try again!  The third time he made it — simply flying right over the spot with great speed.  (I had thought the third time he´d step very gingerly there or avoid the spot, but instead he almost ran over it!)

We danced and laughed.  I enjoyed getting out on the dance floor and moving around! Then we  were served supper.  At midnight.  (And, yes, it felt VERY late to be eating.) There was no cake cutting ceremony as you find in the states, but instead they gave us a slice of a spiced cake with some candied fruit inside a little box.  I recognized this tradition from Europe where unmarried women are supposed to put the box of cake under their pillow in order to dream of the man they will marry.  (My roomate tried it but didn´t remember any of her dreams.) I already found my partner in life, so I saved my cake for a next day treat. 🙂

At last it was time to depart.  The cabs arrived at 2:30 a.m. to take our group back to the Hostel Gemina. It took us a while to say all our goodbyes, but eventually we found ourselves back in front of our hotel, where a large group of youth, both genders, looked ready to break out into a fight.  The cab drivers made us wait to get out until that crowd moved down the street a bit.  But the security guard was waiting for us at our iron gated entrance to the hotel.  My head hit the pillow finally at 3:30 a.m.

I leave you today with a wish for happy King´s Day.  Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, or the twelfth day of Christmas.  I have seen absolutely no sign of any celebration here.  Perhaps I am just in the wrong neighborhood….  In any case, I admire the three wise men for their traveling stamina and their willingness to go to a far land to witness miraculous events.


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