After an exhausting day in the teeny town of Helicheville, accompanied by my students and a few nativos, I spent Saturday afternoon, evening and early morning at a wedding, the first of three for the season.
On any given Saturday in Spain, you’ll run into at least one wedding, if not several. Sevillian weddings, in particular, are a bit like the circus. They stop traffic with their outrageous fashions, high-end catering and the millions of extras that truly go over the top.
Manolo, a friend of Kike’s from the academy, and Tamara got married in a beautiful chapel called Las Adoratrices here in Sevilla. And, seeing as most Spaniards are Catholic, we had a long mass to sit through. You could tell people got bored halfway through Manolo’s father’s speech before the mass even got started. People chatted on their cell phones and others left to go smoke. Kike made a mockery of the institution of marriage, and I was sitting so far back I couldn’t even get a good look at the couple actually getting married.
The mass continues much like the one you attend Sunday. A lot of talking and me starting to pay more attention to the people around me in their parade of colors and the crazy things they stick in their hair. Spanish women dress up like they’re going to the prom with fancy hair-dos, satin dresses of every color, gaudy jewelry and those ridiculous birds nests in their hair. I think the only woman who pulled it off successfully was the mother of the groom. Anyway, I felt that my jewelry and simple dress made me stick out even more than I already do, what with my pale skin and freckles and nose that isn’t constantly upturned like a Sevillana’s.
After the rice and flower petal throwing, the couple took their pictures and I felt kind of abandoned while Kike greeted everyone from the academy. It’s evident that Spanish people have weddings in place of high school reunions. The couple then got into a vintage car instead of a horse carriage, and only because we had to traveled 10 miles outside of town to the reception.
This was all different from Jose’s wedding last year on Gran Canaria. He and his wife are both Catalan, from Barcelona, and the wedding was much more simplistic – no mass, no classic car and no fancy hats. He also invited a small number of people, so I didn’t feel so lost in a sea of people.
When we arrived at Hacienda la Pintada, I was overwhelmed by how andalu everything was – a vast courtyard in the middle of olive groves, a woman in Jerez-style dress serving Manzanilla sherry from a oak cask, waiters coming around with trays full of pates and caviars and croquetas. And clearly everyone was drinking. As soon as the bride and groom showed up, fireworks were shot over the courtyard and everyone was ushered into the dining hall, accented in corals and celestes and tans.
We sat at a table with three other couples and a suelto – Kike’s friend Fran whose fiance couldn’t come. Once again, we were the only couple not engaged or already married. But I didn’t care about this, just the seafood in front of me – gambas blancas, tiger shrimp, crab, clams, and all kinds of other stuff I can name in Spanish but not English. Then there was more garlic shrimp, grilled shrimp, more stuff that I can’t name. In between courses we had a fantastic apple sorbet and then came the fancy hamburger with potatoes, vegetables and baby lima beans. I tried my best to save room for the desert buffet, but I just couldn’t.
By this time it was already 1:30 a.m. and the wedding started at 6pm. We went to the dance floor and the bride and groom did their normal first dance, the bride dressed in a charming, fancy wedding dress, and the DJ totally goofed on English pronunciation while people were more entertained by their cubatas, but, being a Spanish wedding, it was no sooner that we’d taken our first sips that a man with a guitar and another with a cajón broke into Sevillanas. Kike wasn’t drunk enough to dance, so I grabbed a Madrileño who had about as much of a clue as I did about Sevillanas. He was a good sport and I marveled everyone (hardly) with my arte in dancing.
Despite sore feet and fighting off extreme exhaustion, I lasted longer than Kike. While I can’t say it was the most exciting wedding I’ve ever been to because I didn’t know anyone, I had a good time with my man and his friends, and I will finally know someone whose wedding I’m going to later this summer!
¡¡Que vivan los novios!!