It’s the wedding day! It was time for the main event, the reason that brought us all from thousands of miles away to Cartagena, Colombia.
The cab pulled up to the church, located in the heart of the old city. Standing outside the church was the groom, my cousin Micheal. I said a quick hello then headed inside the cool church to find a seat. The church was surprisingly empty even though the ceremony was about to start. We took a seat in the front and waited as people began to fill into the church.
My mom walked Micheal down the aisle and all eyes were on them until a horse drawn carriage pulled up to the church and Marcella, the bride, got out. The streets of Cartagena are filled with horse drawn carriages so this was fitting for the city. She pulled all the attention to her, looking like a Colombian Cinderella in her stunning billowing ballgown upon her house drawn carriage. She glided down the candle lit aisle as all eyes followed her to her waiting groom. The ceremony began as Marcella joined Michael at the alter. The service seemed to be Roman Catholic. While I couldn’t understand the exact words which were being said, they seemed to be following along with smilier church rituals I am accustomed to. The prayers were in Spanish but they had the same rhythm. I was always just a step behind what was happening. Everyone would stand, then I would stand a few seconds late. While I couldn’t keep up with everything, I was aware of them saying their vows. I couldn’t understand the words but I could tell by their faces how happy they were to have married each other.
Once the ceremony was over, we followed the newly weds in a procession down the street. They told us their would be transportation to the reception, I didn’t think it would be my own two feet. The walk to the reception wasn’t long and it was an amazing experience. Drummers and dancers followed the couple down the street as pedestrians looked on. Music filled the streets as we sauntered through Cartagena. We stopped in the square in front of the Heredia Theatre. Here I was clearly able to see the dancers, twirling in pure white around the happy couple. It was oozing pure bliss and romance.
Micheal and Marcella escaped once more on the horse and carriage to take photos, leaving the rest of the wedding to enjoy the cocktail hour. The cocktail hour decor mimicked the costumes of the dancers. Everything was white, light and airy. We sat at one of the tables outside the Heredia Theatre as we were fawned over by the tourists walking the streets. People kept taking pictures as they walked by and I did the same. This is one of the most incredible events I have ever seen, let alone attended. We took a seat and enjoyed mojitos and margaritas and all the delicious hot dourves. From where we were, you could see part of the wall surrounding the city and the vibrant streets of Cartagena. It really is a romantic city.
When the cocktail hour concluded, we headed through the doors of the Heredia Theatre. I was mesmerized as soon as we stepped through the doors. Everything was so ornate, especially with the ceiling fresco and the chandeliers. The flowers were abundant and the dessert table looked like something out of Marie Antoinette. Somehow they had risen the floor to be even with the stage. I guessed that the theatre seats must’ve been below this makeshift floor. The theatre itself was beautiful and the decorations set it to the next level.
We found our seats and prepared ourselves for dinner. Dinner wasn’t served until around 8:00 p.m.. I wasn’t surprised. This is Colombia after all, dinner is always served late. However, there was so much going on that I didn’t notice my hunger. Dinner was well worth the wait. All of the food was so amazing, some of the best I have ever had in my life, aside from yet another scoop of coconut rice on my plate. Coconut rice seems to be a staple in Colombian cuisine. The food was great and the service was phenomenal. There seemed to be three servers and a bartender for each table of six people. The servers would bring out only two plates each and set them down all at once. They choreographed routine for the dinner service. It all felt so elaborate. After we finished dinner, we went straight for the dessert table. Oh my god, I have never seen so many decadent desserts. I only had a few things but I was happy about my choices.
Soon after dinner was the first dance. It was refreshing to see because they danced to an upbeat Colombian song. It was fast and fun, setting the mood for the rest of the evening. Once the song was over, everyone hit the dance floor and did’t leave until the night ended. I danced with some of the Colombian guests and was taught how to dance properly to the upbeat music. I tried to keep up as they moved their feet to the upbeat music.
Around 1:00 a.m. the party was in full swing. Carnival dancers came out to put on a performance. The dancers were all so beautiful and moved their hips at a rate that I didn’t even know existed. The carnival dancers were practically naked and danced around the happy couple, who were soaking up every minute of it. They shook around to the upbeat music dressed in vibrant colors and adorned in feathers. Carnival hats and masks were passed out and everyone was dragged to the dance floor. We danced along with the carnival, trying to keep up with their moves. It was so fun yet so exhausting. We didn’t make it too much later after the carnival was over. It was already past 2:00 a.m. and the wedding was scheduled until 5:30 a.m.. There was no way we could make it that long. We gathered our belongings, said goodbye to the bride and groom and headed out in the warm Colombian night.