Two Weddings, Dos Bodas

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Many events in our life have rituals to mark them, if we’re lucky.  I was privileged to be a guest at my first Nicaraguan wedding last month.  Shortly after, I returned to the States for a visit and to attend my cousin’s wedding there.  The juxtaposition was interesting!

Nicaragua Wedding –

The happy couple stopped by our house the day before to inform us that they would be getting married the next day at 4.  We had less than 24 hours notice.

US Wedding –

My cousin proposed 3 years ago, and the ensuing time was spent planning and saving for the perfect wedding.  “Save the Date” invites went out last January.

Nicaragua Wedding

While trying on dresses to wear to the wedding, my boyfriend assured me I had nothing to worry about.  “You’re wearing that?” I said, to his jeans and t-shirt.  On arriving, I was one of the only people present wearing a dress.  The bride wore an elegant pantsuit outfit.  Many other guest were also wearing pants/tshirt combos.

US Wedding

Dressed to the nine’s – the bride, the bridesmaids, all the guests.  Elegance upon elegance.

Nicaragua Wedding

The start time was 4, though only a few family members were there on time.  Guests and the bridal party all started arriving between 4:30 and 5.

US Wedding –

Began at 5 sharp.  Guests were in place and seated, many had been in and around the site of the wedding for an hour prior.

Nicaragua Wedding

Tables and chairs were set up outside and inside the house.  Guests sat were they chose and mingled with each other throughout the evening.

US Wedding –

There was a table set up prior to entering the reception with placecards telling each guest where they would be seated.  Guests were free to mingle before and after the meal.

Nicaragua Wedding

When the civil ceremony began, no official announcement was made.  Those who wished to witness gathered in the front room or the doorway to watch.  The ceremony was short and sweet.

US Wedding

Also a short ceremony, although all guests gathered to watch the bridal party walk down the aisle, snapping pictures throughout.

Nicaragua Wedding

Family really chipped in to make everything happen.  The wedding was held at the family’s home.  One of the brothers, a chef, catered the event.  Another brother helped serve beer all evening.

US Wedding

Another big effort on the part of family and friends!  Although the wedding was professionally catered, family chipped in by helping make wedding favors and table decorations.

Nicaragua Wedding

The food was simple but tasty.  Chicken and rice were served for the main meal, with plates being brought out as they were ready and served in no particular order.

US Wedding –

Guests had a choice of 3 meals, and each table received their food at the same time.

Nicaragua Wedding

A beautiful wedding cake was present and on a table in the front room of the house, but was not served during the wedding.  The next day, a brother brought us over two slices of cake to enjoy at home.  The cake was sweet, sweet, sweet!

US Wedding

Each table had a small, beautiful wedding cake, with a somewhat larger cake in front of the room topped with a likeness of the happy couple.  After the meal was served, the cakes were served at well, and it was discovered that there were three flavors of cake.  Guests were encouraged to visit other tables to sample the different flavors available.  (Yum!)

Nicaragua Wedding

The bride spent the whole wedding serving her guests.  She walked around and ensured that each guest was comfortable.  She walked around offering plates of appetizers, coffee, soda, and beer.  She walked around and served the meals, and she walked around and cleaned up the plates and cups as they were used.  I kept waiting for an opportunity to snap a picture of the happy couple together, but it was only available after the civil ceremony.

US Wedding

The bride and groom spent their time walking around saying hello to all of the guests.  The couple made a point to greet everybody present.  There was a waitstaff to serve food, bartenders to serve drinks, and waitstaff to bus the tables.

Nicaragua Wedding

The music was played loud and a small group gathered in the front room to dance.  Children took turns spotlighting their skills dancing in the center of clapping, cheering, laughing family members.  There was not time for a bride and groom dance, nor a bride and father, groom and mother dance.  There was much joy surrounding the music and the dancing.

US Wedding –

A friend of the couple donated his time as DJ.  There was a first dance, elegantly choreographed to show off the best of the bride and groom.  There was also the traditional, sweet moment of the bride and her father, the groom and his mother.  Most guests took to the dance floor as the evening wore on, with dancing going on into the night.

******

The Nicaraguan wedding was a civil ceremony.  A large church wedding is in the future, and I’m sure there will be more pomp there.  In fact, a dear friend just returned from attending a Nicaraguan church wedding yesterday, and it sounds just as fancy as any US wedding.  What really struck me as the major difference was the bride acting in service to her guests throughout the wedding.  We’re raised in the US at least to think of a wedding as the bride’s special day.  That’s where the whole concept of the “bridezilla” was born, right?  I found it touching that instead, the bride spent the day and evening acting in service to those who loved her and wanted to celebrate with her.

Both experiences were extremely special for me.  Both were marked by family joyously celebrating a union of love, and I left both weddings with a warm feeling in my heart.

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