6/15/2009 12:04:00 pm

Wedding that wasn't a Wedding that was a Wedding

Posted by Unknown |

This is what I started writing on Saturday evening

They do things differently here in Guatemala.

I woke up today, excited because it was Jo's civil ceremony. While in Australia we do the church wedding and the legal wedding in the the same service, here in Guatemala they break things up but doing the civil ceremony before the religious ceremony.

So today was Jo and Victor's civil ceremony and next Sunday will be the religious one.

As I was saying I woke up, excited that we were going to do something official today. I may also have woken up because I couldn't sleep any more. I'm not yet totally adjusted to the time zone.

I spent most of the morning having an internal deliberation as to whether to have facial hair or not when I go to the ceremony, I decided in the end for facial hair to avoid the inevitable facial rash that always comes with shaving these days.

And that is where I fell asleep while typing so I thought I should go to bed

Once the whole house had been juoozied up, we hopped in our taxis and cars and headed off to Jo's miniature house just outside Guatemala City.

Upon arriving at her house we found Jo and Mum who had stayed there the night before after Jo's Despedida, and Lesley and Van who had both arrived in the country the night before and that morning respectively. While all the new arrivals gave themselves a tour of the house in our glad rags (Jo has a pool in her back yard about the same size as a baptismal font, good for sudden localised, religious revivals but not much else) while the women were busy getting pretty and confining Jo into her dress. When she came downstairs looking all dressed up in a large ball gown it occurred to me that this civil ceremony might be a bigger deal than I had previously anticipated. She looked pretty good.

But the excitement was short lived as Jo received a phone call asking us all to come an hour later as things weren't ready at Victor's house. This did give us a chance to have a cup of tea and all us Australians to keep asking Jo questions as to what was actually going on and what was the point of this civil ceremony. It's all a little confusing.

Basically yesterday was the legal wedding, but next Sunday will be the ceremonial wedding.

After receiving another call telling us we could come now, we loaded ourselves into the various cars and drove ourselves across the suburb, filled with it's people, street vendors, and one way streets, and arrived at Victor's family's house.

The place was full of Guatemalans who I smiled at and kissed and bluffed my way through greetings. There was one woman who I have met before who I think knows less English than I know Spanish because every time she sees me she gives me a huge grin, a thumbs up and says "Yes! Yes!" I don't understand what she means, but seeing as no one understands me either, I figure if I give her thumbs up and a "Yes!" too she'll feel validated in her cross cultural enterprises.

Victor's parents had decked out their backyard filling it with chairs and a largish, square, open-sided, tent. Under the tent were a few chairs and a table with a nice tablecloth, a big vase of flowers and two nice chairs on one side facing one nice chair on the other. This was where the ceremony was going to take place. It reminded me of a Jewish wedding, except there were a lot of people under the covering.

When the ceremony began Victor's parents introduced everyone there. We all stood and waved and were clapped. I got to sit under the tent with my parents, just behind Jo and Victor. I felt like royalty.

Pablo the Lawyer stood up with Mario the Airline Pilot Trainer/Translator and gave us a Cirmon. This is a Sermon for a Civil Ceremony. He started off by talking about ancient Roman symbolic animals but then we were told they were irrelevant. I think perhaps something was lost in the translation, but I quite liked it. I was hoping there would be more irrelevancies in the cirmon to amuse me.

He actually spent a lot of time talking about God and marriage, and I worried he might be stealing my thunder for the ceremony in a weeks time. He talked about civil ceremonies were about giving to Caesar what is Caesars. I hadn't thought about it before but I felt it was an appropriate application of the verse. Lawyer and Preacher, this Pablo was good, I was feeling more than little intimidated.

When it came time for the reading and signing of the Marriage Act, Pablo did slip a little in the Lawyer stakes. He named Jo, Joanna Mary French Lopez, told us all she was from the Republic of Australian and mis-spelt and mis-pronounced almost her entire family tree. I think this was because Jo had given him the names via Victor, over the phone while getting her hair blow dried that morning.

Despite the issues, Jo and Victor signed their life away on the document, then my parents signed as witnesses, then Victor's parents, then all the Australians. It was fun. I've never signed wedding thing before. I didn't do a very good signature.

The various parents gave a little speech, then Jo and Victor spoke. Everyone cried. I may even have teared up a little. It was nice. And the Jo and Victor were married.

It was odd, I didn't realise Jo and Victor would actually getting married that day, but it turns out they are now legally married. Still that didn't make much of difference. They don't get to actually be married until Sunday at the Church ceremony. Right now it just seems like their still engaged with more jokes about their marriage.

As it was such an important occasion we all had to eat. I do love that all cultures celebrate with food. Food is wonderful. We had a wedding feast of lasagna and Guatemalan pudding.

A few hours later the festivities wrapped up and we all headed back home to our exotic villa in Antigua. I went out for dinner that night to a hippy cafe with loud good music, with Jem, Janet, John, Grandpa and Valentina. I think Jem and I were the only ones that enjoyed the music. It was a bit loud for everyone else. The food wasn't terrible though.

That night due to new arrivals I was moved out of the room I had been staying in, into a room with Mum, Dad and Jo. I was put in the double bed with Jo. The poor girl. My sister had to spend her wedding night sleeping in the same bed as her brother. Not really the best start to a marriage. She has told me that on her second wedding night I'm not allowed anywhere near, and that's totally fine with me.