I’ve been to several weddings of Alex’s family and friends in the eight years we’ve been together. I’ve seen the dollar dance and sighed wistfully as a mariachi band serenaded the bride and groom. But I hadn’t experienced a true Mexican wedding until this weekend, when my friends Chata and Candy got married and proceeded to party like I’ve never wedding-partied before.
Italian weddings are not so different from your typical American wedding. There’s maybe a little more food and we are partial to giving (and receiving) large sums of money in little cards (instead of actual, you know, presents), but otherwise, it all feels pretty much the same. You get a DJ or band, you cut the cake, you dance it up for a couple hours, you go home.
Oh no, Mexicans aren’t going out like that. They par-TAY. This was an all-day affair, from the ceremony at noon until, I’m guessing, well past midnight. (We left at around 11, but the party was still going strong.)
We arrived at the reception at 3:00, after going home and feeding the kids and letting them run around and rest a little, since we had to hold their wiggly asses for an hour during the ceremony while listening to readings from the Corinthians in Spanish. When we got to the reception, my first tip that shit was going to be different was the security guard stationed at the door. Apparently, Mexicans are all “We INVENTED the Wedding Crashers,” so the guards make sure that only the 500 people who were invited walked through the door.
The decorations were absolutely lovely. Candy’s sister and, I believe, one or two other family members created all the centerpieces themselves. They tied together vintage wine bottles and mason jars with lace and filled them with gorgeous coral and white flowers. Little burlap bags were filled with chocolates for party favors. What looked like swollen cocoons of twinkly white lights hung from the tall ceilings. Just FYI for anyone ever considering ordering expensive-ass wedding decorations in the future: you should hire Candy and Chata’s family.
But here’s the part that’s really interesting: Mexicans don’t have a (mostly useless) rehearsal dinner the night before. Instead, they pack up all their homemade decorations and spend the evening decorating the place themselves. I’m sorry, that’s just effing genius. It saves you tons of money, and enables you to make sure everything is to your liking (instead of arriving to a room full of maroon linens when you clearly wanted tan).
After admiring the decorations and the mariachi band, we sat down and were quickly served a paper plate full of rice and beans and BBQ beef goodness. Insanely delicious. I may have eaten half of my son’s plate…
Drinks were also served in the back by members of Candy and Chata’s family. Two cousins worked the keg pump all night, while a couple other friendly dudes doled out the wine. Sprite, Coke, water, and other drinks were kept in a cooler. It all felt so casual and yet so festive. I did a quick little compare-and-contrast in my head and wondered why most “American” weddings are so stuffy and formal. Just BYOB! I bet it also saved thousands of dollars on the liquor costs.
I was feeling warm and romantic and a little buzzed and ready to get my groove on the dance floor when I was hit with a brick wall of culture shock. Banda. A 12-piece brass section played for several hours and I was sadly way, way out of my element. I watched as the crowd bobbed up and down to the high-pitched horns and, for the very first time in my life, I had no idea how to move to the music.
So I did what any good Italian would do: drank like a fish. Unfortunately, the rice and beans and tres leches cake (YUM) soaked up the liquor like a Sham-Wow and by the time I left the party at 11pm, I was only mildly tipsy.
Thankfully, my friends were far more wasted. We then did what any good American would do: hit up Denny’s to torture some 17-year-old waiter forced to serve drunken middle-aged party goers. And that’s a whole other blog post for tomorrow, kids :).