Guatemala and Ecuador 6/30/16 - 7/20/16

Saturday, 7/16/16 - Alex and Abigail's Wedding

The family rose early this morning to help with wedding preparations for their cousin Alex and his beautiful bride Abigail. The venue was a park within walking distance of the house, so they came and went as necessary during the course of the morning.

We gave the kids some little bendable dolls that we bought on our recent trip to Kerala, India. Eddy drew a face on the round wooden head of his doll.

For breakfast, we had huevos rancheros, muffins, fried plantains, black beans, and coffee.

Everyone got showered and dressed for the wedding. Eddy applied hair gel, the brand name of which was "Ego." There's something to be said for truth in advertising, I guess!

Ian Ivan was napping right up until we left the house. We walked the short distance to the park, on a parallel street behind the house. The weather was perfect - sunny but with a slight breeze. As we arrived at the park, we were greeted by Alex and his family: parents Victor and Rosa, sisters Julisse and Neli, and brother Andrik.

This was sort of a pop-up wedding, in that the family rented tables, chairs, and tents, which were delivered to the site this morning. The family made and hung their own decorations, as well as preparing the food themselves. It is similar to how baptisms and quinceañeras are handled at home, with everyone pitching in.

We passed under a white balloon arch and proceeded to a table under one of two guest tents. Green pine needles had been scattered on the ground, a common practice for fiestas as it pays homage to mother nature and also provides a pleasant fragrance. White balloons and streamers adorned the tents.

The plastic tables were set with white cloth tablecloths. The centerpieces were quite clever: they created fans by hot gluing white plastic forks side-by-side and trimming it with lace. The wedding favors were match boxes decorated to look like white bibles with satin and lace. A white ribbon with gold trim was printed with Alex and Abigail's names and their wedding date.

A separate tent sheltered the head table and the cake. White styrofoam shapes of hearts and doves were decorated with gold glittery letters announcing Alex and Abigail's marriage.

A tarp was set up in one corner of the park under which the women of the family prepared food in huge metal cauldrons.

We knew a lot of people there, as we are close with much of the extended family: Juan Carlos, Yolanda, Junior, Fatima, Priscilla, Blanca, Dulce, Gisele...Others were acquaintances that we have met at various parties in the past (baptisms and quinceañeras). As the only gringos in attendance, we were made to feel quite welcome.

Alex wore a sharp suit and Abigail wore traditional Kaqchiqel Mayan dress. The wedding started out with a civil ceremony, where parents and godparents signed paperwork as witnesses, the justice of the peace pronounced them man and wife, and they kissed.

Alex's younger brother Andrik lit off firecrackers in celebration of the momentous occasion. Then the bride and groom walked to the back of the tent and stood under a wedding bell-shaped piñata that showered them with white "snow". They greeted guests via receiving line. Guests congratulated them and presented them with gifts.

Everyone returned to their tables for a ginger ale toast. We ate a delicious meal of tender chicken in mushroom gravy, mixed vegetables, rice pilaf, and tortillas. We had cold, refreshing horchata to drink (a milky drink made with peanuts). It was a delicious, home-made meal.

Once we had eaten, people lined up to get photos with the bride and groom in front of the gorgeous, multi-tiered white cake.

Then the bride and groom cut the cake and delicately fed one another a slice. The cake was vanilla with strawberry jam in between the layers.

We enjoyed the company of the family and listened to the dj's music. At the beginning of the party, they played traditional Guatemalan marimba music. Later on, it turned into more modern dance music, though there was no dancing. Abigail animatedly chatted with her girlfriends. Victor (Alex's father) made the rounds and gave us each a shot of whiskey to celebrate the marriage.

As the sun got low in the sky, Abigail sat with her head on Alex's shoulder. They gathered up their belongings, said goodbye and thank you to all of the guests, and literally walked hand-in-hand into the sunset to start their new life together.

Once they had left, everyone started to clean up. Kids tore down streamers and popped balloons. We raked up pine needles, confetti, and firecracker detritus. We cleaned up cups, plates, and plastic utensils. We wiped down the plastic tables and chairs before returning them to the rental company. People disassembled the tents and the table legs. We stacked up the chairs.

A motorcycle with cargo bed arrived and loaded a stack of chairs onto the back. Other gear and decorations were loaded into pickup trucks.

Shortly after 6 p.m., the park was pristine once again, with little indication that a sizable wedding had occurred here today. It had been a lovely day, and we had enjoyed ourselves very much. It was a wonderful party and we are very grateful to have been included. We are very happy for Alex and Abigail, and wish them a lifetime of happiness together!

We all walked back to the house, arriving at around 6:30 p.m.

Back at the house, we played some more Labyrinth while enjoying a cup of tea. For dinner, we enjoyed tamales, salad, and tea. And the girls ran out to get some ice cream novelties for dessert: Sarita cremosa fresa (like a creamsicle, but strawberry). We went to bed at around 10:30. Tomorrow we would be leaving bright and early for our first trip to coastal Guatemala. We were excited to visit the black sand beaches of Champerico.

Alex and Abigail's Wedding
Video by Steph and Craig
Music: "Por Que Sera?" by Chapinlandia
Groom and family: Neli, Rosa, Andrik, Alex, Julisse, Victor

Groom and family: Neli, Rosa, Andrik, Alex, Julisse, Victor

Our table at Alex and Abigail's wedding

Our table at Alex and Abigail's wedding

Alex and Abigail

Alex and Abigail

Vanesa, Yoselin, Yasmin, Alex, Abigail, Aracely, Humberto, Paulina, Ian, and Paola

Vanesa, Yoselin, Yasmin, Alex, Abigail, Aracely, Humberto, Paulina, Ian, and Paola

Alex and Abigail with wedding cake

Alex and Abigail with wedding cake

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