6/24/2009 12:43:00 am

The Wed

Posted by Tom French |

I'm not sure this blog is going to do the day justice, so I apologise to all you Jo fans out there in advance. But I'll write more than anyone else has so far, I promise you that.

I'd start from the beginning of the wedding, but I'm not sure when that was. The day before was full of things like rehearsals, speech, sermon and vow printing, meals, and people being stressed.

The day started at around 5am when the bridesmaids awoke singing. They didn't wake me up but I think the rest of the house was blessed by their melodies. They all headed off to get their hair done.

I woke at six something and showered, got dressed, and noticed the rain. Of course we'd all been praying for sunshine, but we got rain. Alanis Morissette popped into my head.

At 8 10 of the many people who had converged on the house were put in cars with various bits of the world-wide wedding cake put on top of them. I was given a box to hold labeled "EXTREMELY! FRAGILE!" This made me somewhat nervous. But when Di who was sitting next to me got a whole tier of the cake placed on top of her, I was most thankful that my load was small, light and probably less important.

The two cars left the house driving slowly through the streets of Antigua with the all powerful hazard lights on. It was like when they drive heavy equipment or nuclear bombs through the centre of small towns, at least that's how it felt in the car. Outside people didn't seem to understand the nature of the convoy. We got a chicken bus on our tail for the second half of the trip honking and threatening to run us over the whole time, but Lerae, our driver, was fearless and defiant, refusing to be intimidated. She managed to get us and the cake pieces to the venue in one piece, if you know what I mean.

The wedding venue is the most sought after venue in Guatemala, so I'm told. It's on the top of a hill over looking Antigua, surrounded by plush gardens, and interesting sculptures made by someone famous. The wedding was meant to be out under a shade cloth under the watchful eye of the volcano, but the rain moved us underneath the giant, permanent circus tent thing, where the reception was to be held. It wasn't a disaster. In fact, it was more intimate, because we were forced to do the ceremony in the round, or at least we did it in a line, one half of the congregation facing another with Jo and Victor in the middle.

On arrival, I sat down with Erica, my translator, and we went through the sermon together. She'd translated it the week before so we really just had to make sure we could do it together ok.

Then it was time to stand around and wait for something to happen. There was a lot of meeting of Guatemalan people who I couldn't talk to. Finally we all went to our seats, half an hour late, Sons of Korah started up and out of no where appeared Van dressed as a bridesmaid and walking down the make shift isle. It took people a little while to realise what was going on, and when Van reached the end of the isle she didn't quite know what to do, cause everything that had been rehearsed the day before was useless. But she did alright. For those of you want to know about the dresses and all that, the bridesmaids dresses were green, the flowers were colourful and the bridesmaids looked good.

Yep, I could write bridal magazines.

Jo arrived with Mum and Dad. Her dress was white. I almost cried (but I didn't because emotions are for weak people). It was strangely affecting to see my sister getting married. I don't think I've really thought through the significance of Jo's marriage for me, so I was surprised that I was emotional about it. But she's my sister and I love her, and I'm real happy that she's getting married, so I guess that's enough.

The ceremony, if it had not been in two languages would have been a rather simple affair, songs, sermon, prayers, vows, song, songs, recessional. But seeing as it was in two languages the whole thing seemed more elaborate, and it certainly was much longer. Added to this that it was cold and rainy and we were in an undercover but open air place, I thing there were a lot of cold people, especially bridesmaids and brides.

I preached, the jokes that there were crossed the Guatemalan divide, but there weren't many jokes. About half way through the sermon I realised it was going long. And while I normally would just edit on the fly, I couldn't because I had a translator and we were working of a pre-arranged manuscript. Erica, who did really well, had asked me at rehearsal if I was happy with the length, she may have been politely saying "It's too long you, nong!" But I didn't pick up on the politeness and thought it was fine.

Still people survived, and had the sermon been in just one language I would have been happy, so I'll sit with that.

When I sat down after preaching I sat next to Valentina who turned to me and said "So cool". And I thought "Wow, Valentina liked it." Then I thought about it some more and realised Valentina would never say "So cool" and actually she had said "So cruel". This stressed me out because I thought I'd really offended her some how with all my talk of needing Jesus in your marriage. But it turns out she was only talking about the length, especially when all the young women were freezing to death. I have to admit, I agree, it felt cruel while I was up there. I wrote a summer sermon.

The rest of the ceremony was lovely. I watched most of it with a lump in my throat. There was a Guatemalan lasso, Australian prayers, and even a John Colman song sung by Alex the American (who became my best friend for two days). It was a good ceremony. And as we sat and looked outside the rain stopped and the mist cleared and we could see glimpses of Antigua below. It was pretty special.

After the ceremony was the reception. I had a job to pull a string connected to a giant lace bell full of rice and beans as the bride and groom walked under it entering the reception . It's a Guatemalan tradition I'm told to wish the couple prosperity. I didn't do too well. My string broke and Victor Snr (Father of the Groom) had to run in and tear the bell apart with his strong, manly hands. Needless to say, I felt like a little bit of a failure.

The reception was breakfast, so I filled myself with eggs, sangers, beans and smoothies while Jo and Victor circulated and talked to all 200 of Victor's Cousins. You can tell he's an ethic just by the number of cousins he has. Those of us from devoloped nations only have a reasonable number like 15 at the most.

Watching them made me glad I'm not getting married. I don't want to talk to 200 people ever, unless it's all at once.

There were speeches, in two languages, plenty of tears from the Australians, Valentina's epic cake (which looked awesome) and then lots of standing around. There was a traditional Guatemalan band, but no dancing as dancing is a sin for Guatemalan Presbyterians so we all stood around and tried not to jig.

Finally, when most people had gone home, Jo and Victor decided to leave, and so did we. Jo's car broke down so she and Victor had to be driven to their swanky hotel in Victor's Brother-in-Law's flower filled car. We stayed behind and pushed the Corolla up and down the hill. Victor Snr finally started it by doing a live battery transplant.

By the time we all got home, we were all pretty wrecked. I read my book, ate some toast then went to sleep.

And that was the wedding day.

In the morning we all headed off to breakfast with the newly weds. You can tell your sister loves people when she has breakfast with 16 friends and family on the first morning of her honeymoon.

As it turned out, when Lesley and I made it to the airport we found out we were booked on the same plane to El Salvador with Jo and Victor. So we had the privilege of doing the first leg of their honeymoon journey with them. It was nice but a little odd. Like I said after Jo's first wedding, we're a close family.

Now we're in Washington DC and they're in Argentina. I'm going to bed. I'll blog about DC later.

The wedding was good. Jo and Victor are awesome. They're gonna be a great family and their kids are gonna be cute.

It rained but Jesus reigned.

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