November 28 – 30th
When you get invited to a wedding in Guatemala get prepared to be awed by a LONG weekend of fun, extravagance, partying, and enough food to feed an army. At least that was our experience!
In all truth, this was the most beautiful, elegant and amazing wedding we have ever attended. There is no way I could even begin to capture all of the festivities properly in pictures, but I will try to give you at least an idea of how special it was.
For $100, we hired a private vehicle to take the six of us (Dick, Karen, Gary, Jan, Tim and I) and our luggage the 2.5 hour drive from Antigua to Panajachel midday on Friday. Checking in to the Porta Hotel del Lago with stunning views of Lake Atitlan helped set the mood for our two-night stay.
The weekend pre-wedding celebration got off to a wonderful start with a sit-down dinner Friday night at El Bistro. There were so many of us, that the bride and groom had taken over two restaurants for the entire evening. We were with the “older” contingent made up mainly from guests that had flown in from the USA and some long-time family friends.
Saturday was sunny and warm and we spent our free day walking along the main boulevard, picking up a few souvenirs and trinkets. Tim got a new wallet (actually 3 of them) and I got several colorful scarves plus a beaded necklace and matching bracelet. I plan on doing a separate write-up on some of the local scenery in and around Panajachel so won’t elaborate more in this post.
Back to the wedding…
The wedding itself was held on the outskirts of town at the family farm (Milpa). Guests had come in from near and far which required massive co-ordination efforts. There were 60 to 80 guests staying in each of three different hotels and small busses picked us up at our hotel at 4:30, 5:00 or 5:30 to take us to the Milpa. We opted for the first shuttle bus.
Walking through the guest compound and entering the large tent that had been erected for the occasion we were immediately over-whelmed with the number of flowers. The brides daughter, Karen, did a masterful job of creating a fantasy land. I did not count them, but I believe there was somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 tables each seating 10-12 people.
Each table had two enormous floral arrangements. Being on a farm, they artfully matched flowers and incorporated vegetables in each of the bouquets; carrots, beets, corn, eggplant, artichokes, and many more were chosen. I’m hoping these snaps will give you an idea of how clever the vegetables were used:
As more guests arrived, and the sun went down, the hors d’oeuvres and drinks started to flow. Twinkling lights came on and I almost expected to see Tinkerbell zip across the sky – it was magical!
Sample of the hors d’oeuvres:
The ceremony had a couple of surprises. The groom had female attendants, and the bride had groomsmen. With a Greek theme, the guys chanted as they entered the room. The glowing bride was escorted by one of her grandsons but was then symbolically kissed by all of her family members at the altar as they en masse gave her away.
First a civil ceremony to make the union legal in Guatemala, followed by the bride and groom each reciting their personally written vows and a final blessing by Father Jose, a Catholic priest. As we were presented with the new “husband and wife”, a champagne toast was made.
An enormous dinner was prepared with delicious choices ranging from sushi to filet mignon, chicken, and a full pasta bar. Several vegetable dishes as well as potatoes and salad items were available. For those who can read Spanish, here is the full menu:
A full dessert buffet was set up on the side of the main room with enough choices to make anyone drool.
The party went on into the wee hours of the morning with live music, dancing, a guest pig, chair dance with the bride, broken plates, and so much more.
The next morning a full breakfast buffet to further honor the newlyweds was presented to us at our hotel. The brides daughter did an AMAZING job as party planner.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for a weekend we will never forget and we are so honored to have been on the guest list.