Since 2020 has put a halt to my travels, I thought now would be the optimal time to revisit some of my favorite trips of adventures past.
I met Magda and her sister Marcela in during my first international trip to Austria. As with most of the friends I made during that time, we have kept in touch since then. When we did our catch-up calls, we would often say “We need to visit each other”. The opportunity arose when Magda’s wonderful boyfriend Alejandro became her wonderful fiancé Alejandro. She invited me to come to Mexico to witness him become her wonderful husband Alejandro.
Since I was flying in from out of the country, I flew in a week before the wedding to hang out with Magda and Marcela. They showed me around Monterrey in the days leading up to the wedding. One night, while hanging out with Marcela and Magda’s family we all had a secret. That night was the night of Alejandro’s bachelor party. In Mexican tradition, the gentleman comes to serenade his betrothed with —wait for it… a mariachi band!
I was so excited. I charged my camera and tried to play it cool as not to tip Magda off that Alejandro was coming while simultaneously trying to keep her downstairs. Long story short -> we failed. BUT, it was still wonderful to watch. I asked the mariachis if I could take a photo with them because I’d never seen authentic mariachis before. The mariachis actually asked to take a photo with me—on their phones— because the hadn’t met a Black American before. I thought it was hilarious. Black people go to Mexico all the time…but, Monterrey is a business center and isn’t really known for tourism, so I guess it makes sense.
A few days later was the actual wedding. The ceremony began at 7 in the evening. Mexico is a very hot place. Traditionally (before air conditioning), weddings were held in the evenings when the weather is typically cooler. This was my first time at a Catholic mass...and my first wedding in Spanish.
I am very familiar with church, so it was very interesting to hear the same prayers and phrases I had grown up within another language. “El Padre, El hijo, y el espiritu santo” is “The father, the son, and the holy ghost/spirit”. At this point, my Spanish was rusty so when the priest really got into his sermon I only picked up random words like ‘amor’ and ‘familia’. Thankfully, Magda’s aunt, Cecilia (with whom I stayed during the wedding festivities) narrated the entire thing for me.
At one-point, Magda and her groom were “lassoed” together with a beautiful silver chain. Cecilia explained to me the tradition began when the Spanish missionaries came to convert the indigenous people of Mexico. Historically, monogamy and marriage were not concepts that were practiced by the indigenous people and there was a language barrier to overcome. To explain, the missionaries literally tied together the bride and groom.
Once a couple is engaged, they must announce their engagement in the church for at least a year. This gives the community time to “speak now or forever hold their peace” long before the day of the wedding. I think that this is a practice that should be adopted in America. (Day time talk show hosts, might be out of jobs… but it’s for the greater good!)
I was surprised to find out that the emphasis wasn’t so much on the ceremony but the reception. The Reception had twice as many people as the wedding. The lovely sit-down dinner started around 9pm. Everyone looked red-carpet ready. A string quartet played classical renditions of romantic ballads (Swoon), there was white-glove service and every course of the four-course dinner was beautifully plated. After dinner a DJ took over music duties, strobe lights replaced the warm up-lighting and the party really began.
Magda’s wedding was the first wedding that I went to where they brought out the rave toys during the reception. There were flip flops for the ladies to switch into, they had light-up toys, oversized sunglasses… and more favors than I can count. I’m not saying that
In addition to witnessing one of the loveliest couples getting married, I learned to trust your host. Magda had told me beforehand that it is custom to have a date to the wedding and she encouraged me to bring a guest. If I did, we would just sort out different accommodation for me and him because her family is still very traditional. Not only was I going to be in Monterrey for the entire week before the wedding, but I also had other plans after the wedding (more on that later). Strategically, it was easier to solo, a standard of American weddings is the singles table… I’m a pretty gregarious person and I just expected to mingle with the other singles.
I found out the hard way that there were no other singles. 100+ couples and me. Even if it is your cousin, you bring an escort. Magda was such a good hostess, she put me with her friends who chaperoned me for the night. They talked to me during dinner and we ended up doing a dance circle. At some point, a handsome stranger and I danced. ‘Yay’ I thought ‘I knew I’d find someone”. After a song or two his beautiful date came, greeted me with a kiss on the cheek, and swooped him away. It was the smoothest, politest ‘check’ that I have ever received.
Apparently, dancing partners are not to be shared. Not wanting to cause an international incident, I retired my dance card and socialized during the reception instead. So, word to the wise… if you are going to a Mexican wedding— bring a date.
Bonus micro-story -The best kind of problems:
As mentioned before, I had plans after Magda’s wedding. A group of friends from college and I had a girl’s trip planned for Costa Rica. As fate would have it, the dates of the week in Monterrey and the girl’s trip slightly overlapped. I couldn’t imagine missing either trip, so I missed the first day of the girl’s trip and leave 7 in the morning after the wedding from Mexico and fly to Costa Rica.
When I booked everything, I was planning as it, based on the previous weddings I had attended: Afternoon wedding about 2pm, evening reception around 5pm. I heard
“there ain’t no party like a Mexican party, 'cause a Mexican party don’t stop” so I planned to stay and party until about midnight and leave early the next morning.
When I planned all this, I was unaware that Mexican weddings take place in the evening. Despite public perception I’m not a party animal, so ‘don’t stop’ to me translated to 2 a.m.-ish. The DJ didn’t come out until closer to 10 pm. After dinner even more people filled the reception. They should really amend that phrase: there ain’t no party like a Mexican party, 'cause a Mexican party don’t stop…and it also doesn’t start until really really late at night.
My self-imposed midnight curfew came and went. It was just getting fun at midnight. I thought ‘I’ll leave at 12:30, 1:00am, 1:20am, 1:45am 2:00am’. That’s the absolute latest that I can stay. I have to be adventure-ready when I land in Costa Rica tomorrow in 9 hours. My other TFFs were already in San José and were waiting for me to arrive. I was gutted to have to leave just as the party got started. I went back to Cecilia’s place, got a quick hour power nap in, I caught a ride share to the airport, another quick power nap on the plan and I was off next leg of the trip.
So, my advice to you pilgrims: If you get the opportunity to go to Mexican wedding. Definitely go, but maybe don't plan a 10 am flight the day after...
Until Next Time,