Saturday, August 19, 2006

Our Paper Anniversary

Every couple marrying in Argentina has to have a civil wedding at the Registro Civil (Civil Registry). This procedure is just a 15-minute affair. Most couples then have a church ceremony on the same day, usually in the evening. Since our civil wedding and our ceremony were on different days of the same week, we have decided to celebrate the latter, so our first wedding anniversary will be tomorrow, August 20.

When we were deciding our wedding arrangements, Guillermo was adamant that we didn't get married by the Catholic Church. Growing up as a devout catholic in this country, he saw too much hypocrisy of the people and the Church; so he decided, since his early twenties, that he no longer has any business with either.

I was also brought up as a catholic; I attended convent schools since kindergarten. I would say I am, spiritually, still a believer of God but wish absolutely nothing to do with the Catholic Church, especially after visiting the Vatican. I often liken Catholicism and the Church as a fantastic set of corporate philosophy being badly interpreted and executed by the management.

Since we didn't have a church wedding, our registry wedding turned into a bigger affair than otherwise. Many of the family's acquaintances turned up; you know the type...we had never met them before and we would never meet them again.

Apparently, the local custom is to invite the attendees to gather for a toast, in some cafe close by, after the registration. If you know the Registro Civil in Tribunales, Downtown, you would know it is a Rationalist building which resembles some monstrosity in the USSR and the cafes in that area are full of men in suits smoking while taking their coffee break.

Both Guillermo and I were reluctant to commit to this arrangement favoured by his parents. The last thing I wanted on my wedding day was toasting perfect strangers in a foreign language in a coffee shop. The added cringe factor, for me, was most of them would have been drinking coca-cola the whole time. Que feo!!(literally "how ugly" but in this context, how terrible!!)

With much diplomacy and negotiation, we got our way in the end. We booked out the front part of a charming restaurant in San Telmo for lunch with our parents, my relatives from overseas and our witnesses. The room was decadently decorated with red walls and chandeliers which looked grand with the stark contrast of white linen. We had a three course meal with champagne to start and finish. Both white and red wines, chosen to compliment the chef's artistic creations, were flowing during the meal. It was an intimate yet extravagant affair befitting the occasion.

That same evening, my father hosted a dinner party at a French restaurant for Guillermo's family of twenty, plus all our guests from overseas. If we didn't have what is deemed to be the proper ceremony in a church, we certainly made it up in number of occasions.

On the Saturday of the same week, we hosted our wedding party in an elegant and historic mansion on Quintana, Recoleta. We asked the judge at the registry to come for a re-enactment before the lunch party. I wore a simple ivory gown made of thick silk charmeuse by Marianna Hardwick of Melbourne and carried a delicate branch of phalaenopsis. Accompanied by my father, I came through a heavy set of mahogany doors into the grand ballroon full of our loved ones. Instead of the much used Wedding March, Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba was playing in the background. The judge, our witnesses and Guillermo each made a speech which moved many of the guests to tears.

The caterer, Dos Escudos did a wonderful job with the decadent cocktail buffet followed by a three course lunch. They also provided our wedding cake and a scrumptious dessert buffet later that afternoon. Our wedding cake turned out well, after we specified no little people were to perch on top or any fake flowers made from pastillage were to be part of the decorations. In the end, our two-tierd white cake was elegantly decorated with a simple lace piping all round and a couple of fresh white lillies.
White lilies and roses were used throughtout the venue; the mahogany staircase, the ballroom, and the panelled dining room flanked by french balconies along one wall were all awashed with white and the scent of lilies and roses. The table arrangements were white roses presented in Ikebana style (Japanese flower arrangement) which emphases natural elements. These flowers set among bamboo and raffia became welcomed souvenirs for our guests.
All in all, our wedding wasn't exactly Argentine in style but we all enjoyed it very much. Our guests were all impressed by its simplicity and elegance. Above all, I think they were thankful that they didn't have to go home at 4:00a.m feeling completely trashed.

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