November 26, 2012

The Wedding of Saul and Carolina

We were privileged to get to be at the wedding of Saul, our Paraguayan "son," and his beautiful bride, Carolina.  It stormed all morning before their evening nuptials, but no one minded.  That took the outside temperature from an intolerable 105 degrees to a steamy 85, just right for exchanging vows in Paraguay!

I thought I'd take this chance to share a few things that make a wedding here a bit unique.

First of all, don't feel pressured to arrive at the time your invitation states.  Of course, we were there early, JUST IN CASE this would be that one time out of one hundred that it all started on time, but one must remember that Latin American time (referred to as La Hora Paraguaya here) is not the same clock as the one you may know.

We were there at 7:30, just as we were instructed, and found another family there, as well.  Within an hour, a few more guests showed up, and a couple hours later, the bride came and the wedding began.  Now, this delay always makes me think the unthinkable, that the bride has changed her mind and she's stood the poor guy up.  No one but me thinks that here, however.  It's the given that about the time I'm showing up, the bride is arriving at the beauty salon for her updo.

If you've been invited to a wedding, it's probably the church ceremony.  This is nothing legal, but is a tradition started by Catholics (to have their marriage recognized by the Church) but carried out by Protestants here, too.  The civil ceremony with the justice of the peace probably took place earlier that same day or a the day before.

Should you be in attendance at a civil ceremony, you'll get to hear all the personal business of each of the 6-8 witnesses.  After they swear in to say that they've witnessed the marriage, the J.O.P. reads off a lengthy description of each person, including marital status, identification number, place of birth, address, occupation, and shoe size.  Okay, no shoe size.

Generally, only one couple stands up as "witnesses" in the church ceremony, and they take the place of groomsmen dressed like penguins and bridesmaids in all those matching pastel satin dresses.  These two witnesses are called the godparents of the wedding, and we've had the honor of being godparents once in Paraguay.

At Saul's wedding, they decided to do both ceremonies at the same time.  So a judge married them legally, then the pastor married them "before God" in a second ceremony, pictured above.

They exchanged rings (putting them on the 3rd finger of the right hand), had a little kiss, and then walked over to the door so we could all greet them, be seated again, and enjoy the plates of asado that were being placed on the table.  If you don't kill a cow, it's not a wedding!  ;)

After eating, the single gals gathered around the cake and each pulled a ribbon, hoping to be the one whose ribbon had a ring on the end of it.  The bride also threw her bouquet, inciting a riot!

Cake and punch, music and smiles, and a lovely night to begin a new marriage.  We pray blessings over the new couple.

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