My Big Fat Chilean Wedding

Recently I’ve been fantasising about attending a close friend’s wedding, one where I know everyone and party until the cows come home with my best mates in celebration of love, life and happiness. I haven’t been to many weddings but I know that my time will come, just like the time when I attended a 21st once a week. Well, this weekend I got to go to one. I might not have been surrounded by 100 of my closest friends and family, I might not even have met the bride and groom until I congratulated them afterwards, but it was most certainly a celebration.

The bride was British so I suppose it wasn’t a complete ‘Chilean’ wedding experience. A good portion of the guests hailed from the UK and I found myself enjoying being surrounded by people who knew even less Spanish than I do. This happens, well, never. It was also nice to, for the first time in three months, be able to overhear someone else’s conversation and understand it. I’m completely unaware of what topics of conversation are hot on people’s lips here.  Also, it is an unfortunate reality that when a conversation I am involved in turns to Spanish (particularly of the Chilean variety) my mind begins to wander, soon after it my eyes and after not too long I’m the person craning their neck in all directions looking at/for things that are more interesting than the conversation I’m (not) involved in.

This particular wedding differed somewhat from the ‘usual’ Chilean wedding in various ways. The beginning is a good place to start. The service started at 4pm- highly unusual. Typically, the church service will begin around 7pm, this means that stomachs are only lined around midnight and the party can continue on until after sunrise. This doesn’t surprise me since the average night out follows a similar time line.  Other compromises were made; I noticed a certain pattern to the playlist. Three British appropriate songs, three Chilean appropriate songs, three British appropriate songs etc… In that moment I was taken back to my youth; school discos in particular.

Since I come from such a multicultural country there was always the issue of having to satisfy different tastes in music. If my memory serves me correctly, when the DJ played ‘white’ music my fellow black school friends would pull faces and plonk themselves down on the chairs that literally lined the perimeter of the school hall/dance floor. And when it was time to blast some Kwaito there would be a loud sound of appreciation and a rush of rhythm filled bodies back onto the dance floor. Most whities would last as long as Mendoza’s ‘Nkalakatha’ and then do their fair share of resting.

Anyway, how is this related to the wedding? Let’s just say that my love of belting out the lyrics of old favourites is not always shared by my new fellow countrymen, with the exception of the Spice Girls. Everybody loves the Spice Girls. I realised something about myself on the dance floor that night and it’s that I’m proud to sing along to Latin American summer hits and not know what I’m singing about. It means that I’m not just a visitor, a tourist just passing through. Being able to Say I live here brings me happiness.

Some things are true to all weddings:

– Free food is always good food, especially when it is actually good food!

– Open bars are the best type of bar. To ask the barman for a drink and not have to hand over any money will never get old.

– Every women secretly wants to catch the bouquet

– Every man would love to take the garter off with his teeth

– Seating plans can make or break your night. Our table rocked!

– Being surrounded by so much happiness is contagious. But also might cause depression depending on where you are in your life and how long you’ve been there for.

Pic: Party gift cacti

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