Last Saturday I went to my first Peruvian wedding and I thought that I'd share the experience with all of you!
This was no ordinary wedding! Instead of just one solitary bride and groom, there were 10 brides and 10 grooms!! Nine of the pairs were renewing their vows and one pair was getting married for the first time. This wedding was being used as an outreach event for the friends and family of the brides and grooms. There were probably around 500 people in attendance and we even ran out of chairs.
First the bridesmaids and groomsmen came in and formed a line on each side of the aisle (there were 7-8 pairs). The girls carried flowers and the guys Bibles. Then the flower girls came in and then the sets of brides and grooms. The groom came first escorted by a padrino (godparent, usually female) and then the bride with the male "godparent." Two guys from the church (Uriah & David - yes a very interesting combo of two names of men from the Bible) narrarated the proceedings while they were going on. They said the names of the couples who were recommitting and how long they had been together. Several of the missionaries served as padrinos. Oh, as the bride went down the aisle, the bridesmaids & groomsmen formed an arch with their bibles and flowers which the bride passed under. It was funny when the missionary John who happens to be tall passed under with a short bride in tow. The archway had to stretch their arms up much higher!!!
After the nine pairs came down the aisle, the doors to the sanctuary were shut and another couple of flower girls and the last groom came out. Then a recording of "Here Comes the Bride" was played and the final bride (who was getting married for the first time) walked down the aisle. The bride, grooms and their padrinos all sat up in the front but the ones who were getting married for the first time sat in the front in the middle of the aisle. We sang some songs and the pastor shared a short message.
Then the pastor called up all the ones who were renewing their vows to the stage and it's a good thing that it was a big stage!! The pastor led them through a recommittal of their vows and they exchanged rings. It was so crazy to see all those brides and grooms up on stage. We prayed for the couples and then some people on stage started a chant "Besos, Besos!!" (kisses, kisses!). Thus started the kissing line! First one couple on one end of the stage kissed and then the next and then the next!! It was hilarious! I've never seen such a thing!
After that the last couple went through marriage vows, exchanged rings and etc. The only difference from a traditional N.American wedding that I saw in the ceremony was that the padrinos had to be up on stage with them (which was bad news because Ron suddenly disappeared the moment he was supposed to be on stage)! I felt bad for Regina (his wife) until Ron showed up and sheepishly joined them. Another thing that was different was that they knelt and we prayed for them (I liked that!).
At the end of the ceremonies the pastor of the church talked to the audience about marriage and the importance of making vows. He prayed for the people there and those who were having marriage troubles. After the ceremonies they passed out small cups of sweet wine to toast the brides and grooms with. I wasn't sure what it was for, so I drank mine before the toast! whooopss......
Then the brides/groomsmen passed out plate after plate after plate of food. We had a rotiserie style chicken quarter, a potato and some kind of pasta mixture (oh and soda). Oh, I forgot! While the food was being passed out, everyone was invited to go to the front to congratulate and give gifts to the brides and grooms. No, you didn't have to bring a gift for everyone!! Can you imagine?? Somewhere in there, someone pulled out the confetti and the brides and grooms heads were covered with the stuff!
Then there was cake and dancing! Okay so the dancing was funny! First all the brides and brides and grooms and grooms got together as couples and did a choreographed waltzy kind of dance (complete with a twirl and dip!!) What a sight! The audience had pushed their chairs off to the sides and widened the aisle. So there were the brides and grooms in a line, dancing. Ten brides, ten grooms dancing! :0) of course they weren't totally coordinated but it wasn't bad. A man (who apparently was supposed to show up with a live band) then started to sing Christian Andean music and the dancing began. The funny thing about the Andean music was that each song had the same background with different words! The dancing was done with couples and I'm not sure how to describe it. It was maybe like polka or swing or the waltz... I danced a couple of times. Once was with Kiersten (one of the missionary kids) who was out of control. He was dancing with everyone and in such an animated and crazy manner (a little more wild than everyone else!!). It was so funny!!
Thus ends the tale of the bride, bride, bride and so on! What an exciting experience!! hee hee...
The Peruvian Brides & Grooms Renew Their Vows
Ascencia (Marga's sister), Dawn & I enjoy our Inka Cola with the meal