Spanish Wedding

The purpose with the “wedding” series is mainly to learn a bit about the way the Big Day looks like in different cultures. Spanish people are very well aware of the traditions and mechanisms around it, so I think that the divulgative pupose is best met with an English clarification.

Spain is traditionally a Catholic country. Today, the Church has no legal power or representation in the Government by itself, but it remains undeniably powerful. Many (if not most) of the Spanish would define themselves as “believer but not practitioner” as a way to justify their absence to the weekly misa. Many young people may not believe much in God or the Church, but the social pressure often puts them into a situation in which IF they get married, then it SHOULD be with a religious ceremony.

With or without Church, the Wedding is, first and foremost, an event for and by the family. Don’t get me wrong, friends do come along, but the most important guests are the relatives. If money was an issue, one would cut friends, but never ever the grandparents, parents, uncles and cousins. As a consequence, the size of the event is directly proportional to the size of the family. An average size wedding in Spain is 200 guests, big one around 400. The 50 guests which we found in the Swedish events are bleak in comparison, but remember that food & drink is (so far) significantly cheaper in Spain – the typical tourist mistake in Stockholm is to see 120:- (12€) beside a wine name and order a bottle… When that was the price for 1 glass!

Still, in Spain this is a really expensive event:

1) Who pays for it? Well… One cannot generalize, but the principle used to be simple: The parents pay for everything (half-half) and the couple gets all the money given as best of luck in your new life wish. Tangible presents are not common, the invitation indicates an account number where to transfer funds.

2) How much shall I give? That’s up to you! Nowadays, the bare minimum is 150€ per person. Why? Because this amount is expected to cover for your expenses as guest and leave some margin for the newlyweds.

Ironically, as a measure out of the crisis, the Government plans to increase consumption tax to 21%. This represents a rise of 3% in some goods like clothing, but a huge 13% against the restaurant sector. I wonder if finally this will happily lead to a reduction in the extremely excessive menus as the backlash of 150€ not being enough anymore and the guests being unable to pay anything more.

Let’s act like Spanish, ignore the Crisis for one day and fully enjoy good food among family & friends. That’s the essence of our culture, it’s not the food what makes us happy but the fact of getting to taste and comment how great it together!

Welcome to Valtierra! Home to my husband’s family, this is a mid-sized village that survives the economic climate with agriculture and distribution of the best vegetables in Spain.
Weddings are formal events. People dress to impress and avoid repetition as much as they can. Headpieces, hats, jewels and all things formal for the ladies, suit and tie (or bowtie if you like) are mandatory for men. Do not wear smoking unless it’s clearly requested or you’ll look like overdoing it.
The day starts by the Family gathering at the Church’s entrance, chatting for a while and getting in early to pick the best seats. In fact, Spanish people do come on time (or even before) sometimes!
Grandparents also make it there, in their best attire.
The groom arrives, nervous and happy. Note the grandeur of the major altar as well as the TV studio style lightning laid out by the team of photographers in charge of capturing all the event.
Ring & coin kids lead the couple into the Church.
The Queen of the day arrives. Wow moment and tears in the eyes of close relatives & friends.
The dress is so major that everything gets frozen until the mum fixes it so it lays nicely over the floor.
The priest had a refreshing irony on all those faces that only show up “in suits“. He did not demonize anyone, but opened up for joking about getting invited to dinner to get to know each other better anyway.
The locals in Valtierra are great amateur musicians. For such a village it is incredible to have a full band of wind instruments and percussion instruments, a chorus as well as some Sopranos. The Ave Maria by the fella was simply, incredible.
Under the loving eye of Saint Ireneo the ceremony reaches its end, with the Comunion after the ring and vote exchange. Here drinking Jesus blood by the silver glass.
The chorus also opened to Golden Spanish Pop hits, very much appreciated by the crowd.
The bride takes the microphone – once the ceremony is over – to provide indications on what comes next.
The Bride’s sister, also in a major dress from Pronovias. Beautiful mintgreen tulle and stones.
Posing for the professional and amateur photographers, right before everyone goes to wish good luck!
Rice is no longer thrown because – considering the event headcount – it turned into a deadly trap for old ladies, that slipped on it. Rose petals are much nicer to throw, receive and photgraph.
The guests were so many that blocked the street for a while.
…soon the way opened up for today’s star. The groom had prepared a surprise for her!! Qué será
They both like horses and Andalucia (South of Spain) so he arranged this amazing flamenco-horse show that even got me in tears. For those of you who may not know, Spanish horses are Worldwide recognized for their strength and honesty. The school in Vienna, as an example, focuses on these amazing animals!
But in the meanwhile, they have to strike a pose for the eternity. This pictures, I think, summarize the downside (besides the food and consequent resource waste) of the Spanish Wedding. It’s so major, that at some moments, turns overwhelming for those who should be enjoying most.
…ring deliverers chillin’ in matching dresses. It all goes perfect to the minimum detail.
Good thing though, is that the whole village gets to enjoy the day! Gossip the dresses and listen to the band in church. So the joy is spread, even further.
My wedding shoes, also made it there. But I changed into this PabloDeLaTorre because you cannot wear white! It’s a big NO-NO.
After the horses came some dancers…
That kept on delighting guests & locals.
Blonde horse, reminded me of Stina! Same magic light shinning from his blue eyes, same talent out of him!
The couple left for more pictures in this fancy retro car…
… while we all proceed as usual, sat down for a while and drink something cool to calm the thirst until the bus arrives. Because the restaurants that match such a day in terms of size and quality are often in the outskirts at interesting locations like restored castles or open gardens. Hence, it is common business to ride a bus there. To avoid drunk driving, a big problem in Spain.
Here come the busses! Two of them I saw, maybe there were more… Because believe me, we were a lot.
My father in law, always smiling in front of a good slice of Bellota Ham.
Here it comes!
 
Before the wedding dinner starts, a cocktail-style free bar (Wine, Beer, Gintonic, Mojitos or anything else you like) washes down some fancy bites – enough for a full a buffet style dinner. But remeber, this is the North of Spain. So the canapès are just the start.
Edible gold lead over foie.
Small bites of octopus, manchego cheese and anything imaginable. My favourite was the “tuna filled strawberry” very nouvelle cuisine and delicious thing.

After the photo session, she starts to relax. I’m happy to see that smile back.

Apart from the photographer shots, everyone gets one with his own cam and the bride. Imagine how tiring this must be for her. But I guess that the emotion of such event overtakes it into this sincere smile.
There were like 6 tables this big plus the meat fondue place, the ham slicer and the bar. Amazing.

Half-lobster. Just the starter, followed by apple with foie, 300gr filet mignon & dessert sampler.

Presents for the guests and then, the party at the disco part of the complex. There, a chocolate fountaine showed up, surrounded by fruit skewers, gave some energy to those who could remain hungry. I didn’t take any pictures though, guess I was afraid of the consequences of the free bar on my brand-new Fuji X100.

We left in the first bus, 3:00AM. Almost 12h later than the start of the ceremony. The party went on, as the free bar did, until 7:00 AM. The day after, a lunch for the family was arranged as the perfect end of this exciting weeekend. I was on route to Japan, so it wasn’t possible to stay.

But we had a great time, as I hope you also did with this post.

While I agree with the principle, I strongly criticize the form. Food waste is sin in these days. I am not talking about hunger, but about resource shortage and waste. Serve delicate bites (like those in the start) while people mingle around some wine, that’s what we all love about weddings. Those tiny marveilles are what we never possibly get home, while we never try unless the restaurant is as major as this one. Then, give a choice between lobster or filet mignon. Which are also special and memorable. Cake & done. That’s it.

Along the bullding bubble, Spain’s buying power increase boosted the Wedding Bubble. Something based on the extent to which we tend to compare ourselves with each other “if you gave this much, I gotta give that much”. Which is the real issue. Families end up spending too much, some even ask for loans, social pressure increases as guests are forced to overeat or refuse, because they are unable to finish. But all is already paid, so not drinking yourself up at the bar has little impact in the final check.

People, enviroment, we all loose. The only benefit is for the restaurant. Like it was for the bank in the old days of housing & loan gamble, hear the bell ringing?

 

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