The wedding was very traditional and Maria, as she prefers to be known, got ready at home and her closest girlfriends and other female relatives helped her to get ready. Usually the family will gather at the homes of the bride and groom on the morning of the wedding and enjoy traditional pastries, usually deep fried then coated in sugar, honey and cinnamon....delicious but very fattening!!!
In the meantime, the neighbours gather outside the house to wait for the bridal party to leave for the church.
Maria and her dad, Ignacio, leave their house ....
Maria's dress was lovely, very simple with just the fabric flowers decorating one shoulder and the alternate cuff. The back had a deep V neckline and tiny buttons doing the bottom part up. The hemline flared out into a 'fish tale'. She's a tiny girl, just about 4'10" or so, and I noticed she was wearing very very high sandals under the dress!
Like in the UK, the bride's mum tends to have a 'lesser' role in the wedding ceremony of a daughter, but the father 'gives the bride away' just as they traditionally do in the UK. Below is Carmelita, the bride's mum, making a quick dash to the car taking her to the church!
Spanish brides traditionally don't have bridesmaids and the groom doesn't have a best man, the role of 'looking after the ring(s)' is undertaken by a small child, usually a member of the happy couples family or friends. The grooms mother accompanies him down the aisle and more often than not she will wear the mantilla, or very long veil and comb made of ivory or bone. Here you can see the back of Jaime and his mother as they entered the church. The second photo was quickly taken before the reception started, I just wanted a nice clear photo of her to share on here.
The four main 'players' in the actual ceremony are the bride's father, the bride and groom and the groom's mother. However the couple can choose to have their other parent(s) present too in front of the alter. In this case, Jaime and Maria chose to have their other parents sitting sideways on to them.
Here is Jesús who was responsible for carrying the couple's rings into the church. Wedding rings in Spain are worn on the ring finger of the right hand and not on the left as we do in the UK. They are usually presented (tied) on a small cushion. Jesús is Maria's nephew and I think he is now 4 years old. You will notice that he is wearing shorts made from flowered cotton pique, which matches the fabric of the ring cushion. I think I've mentioned before here on my blog that small Spanish boys will often be dressed in fabric with small flowers on it, until they are about 4 or 5 years old, especially for 'best'. Lots of the little boys at the wedding were wearing similar outfits of the same fabric, some of the toddlers wore pale blue woollen tights under their shorts or 'rompers' and their shoes were cream leather Mary Jane's!
Another Spanish tradition was that the groom used to present the bride with 13 coins known as 'arras'. These were to represent his 'commitment' to support her. However, times have now changed and today's brides and grooms exchange the coins as a symbol of the wealth and finances they will equally share. On this occasion a little girl, wearing a dress of the same blue flowered cotton pique, carried the coins....I think she was Jaime's niece. Here you just get a glimpse of her in the foreground as she prepares to follow the bride into the church.
Unlike weddings in the UK, there is no 'bride' or 'groom' sides of the church, you sit where you like. A lot of people tend to 'mill about' in the side aisles taking photos and the children wander about also. Spain is very child orientated and no-one would complain if children were running up and down, as they often are, or making a noise during the ceremony!
Below you'll see the guests are still entering the church although the bride and groom are already at the alter with the priest.
The couple exchanging their vows. You can see that the parents are all seated on small benches right in front of the alter.
The Readings and Bidding Prayers were read out by the children from both families.
The deed is done!!! Below the happy couple :)
The bride's father Ignacio, the groom Jaime,Maria and her new mother in law!
The happy couple with both sets of parents!
Carmelita checks out a photo or two of herself! I hope they got her approval :)
Ignacio and Carmelita...oooops, he blinked!
When the newly weds leave the church, it's customary to throw rice and flower petals, sometimes there is also confetti which is printed to look like paper money and also occasionally chocolate coins.
This is my closest friend, Magdalena outside the church.
Our good friends, Magdalena and Joaquin!
It looks like we've both got short hair here, but Magdalena's grandaughter Rocio, had spent the morning doing our hair for us. She is a trainee hair stylist and did my hair in a lovely plait....of course I forgot to have a photo taken of it!!! But I actually felt quite glamorous for a while there! ;)
The reception was held in one of several special venues here in our town, they are used mainly for weddings, 1st Holy Communions and Baptisms and hold well over a thousand people. We started the afternoon outside in the street! Waiting staff came round handing out drinks and tapas. I tried gazpacho made with strawberries instead of tomatoes.....definitely an acquired taste and one that I don't think I'll be acquiring!!! I am not that enamoured with what is basically strawberry juice with salt in it!!!! Other delicacies included small spicy peppers stuffed with cheese, tuna or anchovies, prawns in batter, anchovies on toast, salmon marinaded with cheese and Spanish ham.
Once inside and seated, our tables were laden with more Spanish ham, olives stuffed with anchovies, platters of various cheeses, octopus in olive oil, bread rolls and bread sticks and roasted almonds. Then the waiting staff brought out big platters of cooked prawns. As the plates were emptied, so they were refilled...and this was just for starters. There was also a plentiful supply of wines, beers and soft drinks.
Then came the meal!!! Yes, the rest of the food was just for starters!!!
The main meal consisted of firstly a thick soup of rice and seafood, it was delicious. We then had lemon and mandarin sorbet and it definitely had a bit of alcohol in it!!!
Then onto the main course. Mine was medallions of pork cooked on a griddle with the choice of a cider sauce or a gravy made from Port. That was accompanied by 'patatas moneda' which are flat cut deep fried potatoes, and lightly cooked asparagus wrapped in bacon. The vegetarian option was white fish, but surprisingly for veggies, the same asparagus wrapped in bacon!! And finally, the dessert!! There were two different desserts randomly distributed, mine was Crepe de Turron con nata de galleta, which is basically a delicious concoction of choux pastry on top of a thin biscuit and filled with nougat flavoured custard, then topped with cream and chocolate!!! Brian's was Paris Brest de hojaldre, which is puff pastry filled with a lovely creamy mousse!
Mine on the left, Brian's on the right!
As well as all the above mentioned food, there was also a long buffet table laden with sweets/candies for the children (or adults with a sweet tooth!!!) and another absolutely heaving under big trays of pastries like those above in the first photos!!!
Once all the food was eaten, and let me tell you that took several hours, the music started.....and as with most weddings the 'warming up' songs were Spanish versions of the Oke Cokey and the Birdie Song! I wonder if it's in an effort to work off all that food? :)
Another variation from UK weddings is that the guests do not buy actual 'gifts' to present to the newly weds, and neither is there a list of preferred presents. The tradition is to give money so that the couple can buy what they need. I guess that helps them not to receive three irons!! ;)
During the early part of the evening, after the food is finished, the couple will walk around the tables greeting their guests. At this point they usually give out a little present to each of the attendees, it used to be that men received cigars and ladies would be given a hat pin or maybe a little mirror for their handbag. However, this time each couple were all presented with a photograph of themselves which had been taken earlier in the day, which was a nice change. And at the same time, the guests will hand a small envelope to the groom containing their monetary gift. The amount given really depends on their relationship to the couple and how long or well you've known them, but would never be less than 100 euros. No wedding cards are given but us being the only Brits there, I always like to give the newlyweds a wedding card, especially a handmade one as I think it makes a nice momento for them.
Finally a random photo of the chandelier above the dance floor, very prettily adorned with flowers.
One final tradition that unfortunately I didn't photograph is the custom of cutting the groom's tie into pieces and then auctioning it off for good luck and is usually carried out by the groom's closest friends.
The newlyweds are now off on their honeymoon, a cruise around the Mediterranean. I hope they have a wonderful time and a very long happy life together!
I hope you've enjoyed reading about Maria and Jaime's wedding and perhaps a little insight into how weddings are 'done' here in Spain!