Last weekend I had the honor of attending my first wedding here! The wedding took place in Torrejoncillo, a small town in western Spain. The pep talk I got for this was basically “we are going to drink a lot, eat a lot, and stay up really late!” which was all very true. Also, I was told that since the wedding ceremony is in the evening, I must wear a long dress. AND it’s expected for the man of a couple to wear a tie that matches the girl’s dress. Finding a tie that matched my dress was nearly impossible, but I think we did pretty well!
We carpooled with friends and taught each other words in Spanish and English. I was cracking up at some of the things that were being told to me, and the strange and specific words that a friend knew in English. He asked me what “keen on” meant, and it took me about 10 minutes to remember. I’m not sure if that’s because my brain seemingly has to process longer in English when I’m thinking in Spanish, or if it’s because it’s been so long since I’ve used the words “keen on”.
Once at our destination, we went out for dinner and drinks. The first thing that was different about this wedding experience was that everyone meets at a bar near the bride’s house, drinks together and practices some songs to sing to the bride. Then we all walked to the bride’s house and sang to her as she stood on the balcony. Then the bride comes down and treats everyone to a bunch of food and drinks that her and her family has prepared. This all happened between midnight and 3 a.m. (I was told this is something that only happens in the south of Spain). At one point in the night, I stepped away from the conversation and laughter to walk down the street and take a moment to myself. I stood against a stone wall, looked around at this tiny old town, took a deep breath and thought about how this is my life right now. I am in Spain. It’s good to stop and look around every once in a while.
The wedding ceremony took place in a Catholic church, or as they say here, a church. In Spain, the scale of Catholic churches is on a completely different level than in the US. For example, the church pictured below was in this small town and is your “average” church here. Can you imagine what the most amazing and oldest churches here look like? I couldn’t either, until I went to Burgos and found out. They are truly awe inspiring.
At the end of the ceremony and photos in the church, everyone waits outside to throw rice and confetti at the bride and groom. Some traditions are universal! I personally do not like the idea of throwing rice, as it’s bad for birds to eat, but not much I could do about it there.
Diego getting ready to throw rice at some friends. (Sometimes I think I’m the adult in this relationship, but then I remember how I encourage eating ice cream and swinging on the swings in the park.)
Just like in the US, everyone meets at a nearby location for the reception. First there is a cocktail hour with appetizers, then everyone sits down at tables to eat dinner.
Once seated, we welcomed the bride and groom into the room with sparklers. Then we were served a salad with shrimp and tropical fruits, then sea bass with potatoes, then a “mid meal” alcoholic milkshake, then meat with a berry sauce and zucchini, then wedding cake with ice cream. I am here to attest that it is physically impossible to eat all of the food served to you. I was also thinking, how am I going to dance after this?!
Some parts of the reception that are different than in the US:
- The bride and groom cut the wedding cake with a SWORD. Take that, fancy wedding knives! I was genuinely entertained by this.
- At some point in the dinner, people start singing traditional Spanish songs and use the table as a drum to pound out a beat. I was not prepared for this, and watched in amusement.
- The bride’s garter is cut by a group of her girlfriends, and traditionally sold to the wedding attendees to offset some of the costs.
- The groom’s tie is cut by a group of guy friends and also sold off.
The cutting of the cake. They don’t mess around here.
Cutting of the tie.
- The bride gives a small gift to all the girls at the wedding, and the groom gives a gift to all the guys.
- The bride and groom go around to each unmarried woman at the wedding and place a pin in her dress with a butterfly at the end. Legend says that if the pin falls out before the end of the night, you will get married soon.
After dinner, everyone gets up to go dance and drink from the open bar. I don’t think there is a “closed bar” or “no bar” option here in Spain. A DJ plays songs that most people are familiar with, although I didn’t recognize about 90% of the songs. At one point there was a song about mayonnaise, which has a dance to go with it where you act like you’re making mayonnaise. I laughed so hard.
Traditionally, a wedding reception will go until about 6 or 7 a.m. Yup that’s right. I made it until 3:30 I believe. In my defense, I started to feel sick with a stuffy nose and cough.
On Sunday, we headed back to Madrid and stopped in Plasencia along the way for food and drinks. Thinking about this same idea in the US, usually you stop at a gas station, and maybe a Subway or McDonald’s for food. But here I was standing in front of this very old church, then drinking a beer and sharing tostada (toast with smoked salmon, some with veggies, and some with duck), migas (bread crumbs with spices and a sunny side up egg), and sepia (cuttlefish) with the whole group.
Looking up from the church door.
Overall, it was a great time and I came home with a guy who made me soup, cleaned up, and walked the dog for me. Weddings are exhausting!