Friday, March 01, 2013

Costa Rican Wedding in Los Santos (The Saints)

wedding bouquet of roses
Floral bouquet for the bride
Our closest neighbor's oldest son, Alban, was married in the bride's town of San Andrés last Saturday. San Andrés is deeper into the valley where one finds Santa Maria de Dota, San Marcos, San Pablo, ... well, you get the idea as to why the area is called "Los Santos". We took "Casey's Big Truck" up, so that we could give a lift to a couple of the groom's sisters, and to haul back a few pieces of heavy furniture for the newlywed's new abode in their temporary quarter's at Alban's parents' house. We were ready for an exciting, but relaxing day.

the newlyweds' furniture loaded in the truck
The "big truck" loaded with furniture
The first excitement came after the final grade down to the bride's parents' house. It is so steep that by the time we reached the bottom, I had zero brakes due to overheating. I managed to gracefully coast to a stop, however, assisted by the emergency foot brake. Everyone was smiling and asking me how my brakes were as I climbed out of the truck, parked about 50 meters further down the road than I'd aimed for. They all assured me that it was "normal" for the brakes to fail on that road. An everyday occurrence, pura vida!

We then made it through a round of introductions with the bride's family, and sat down for some coffee and rolls while everyone (mostly the women, that is) made their preparations for the wedding, which was still a couple of hours away.

young girls having their hair braided
Patiently waiting
preparing the bride's hair
The bride's preparation begins
The younger girls sat patiently while their older sisters and aunts prepared their hair into complicated, beautiful braids. The older girls painted their nails, changed into their best dresses, and maneuvered the uneven ground and pavement outside in the highest of high heels. For some, it looked like it might have been their first time walking on stilts. Fortunately, there were plenty of men to take their arm and keep them from tipping over.

Naturally, the bride, Ledi, received the greatest amount of preparation. Her hair was expertly braided and woven around her tiara. Nails, makeup, fitting her dress, and so on, took at least an hour while we cooled our heels outside with the families sipping drinks.

helping the groom's father with his tie
Father of the groom, Luis
finger nails painted purple
Check out the crackle finish on the nails!
Luis had a bit of trouble with his tie. First my sister, Tandra, then I tried to get his corbata on straight and of the proper length, but it wasn't happening. So, I tied it on myself, then pulled open the loop and placed it around his neck. After that, I was dubbed as the tie expert and was taken around to inspect the cut and jib of every guest's tie. I didn't let on that I wasn't the expert they thought I was. Someone selling clip-ons could have done good business that day.

groom waiting a bit awkwardly for the bride
Square peg in a round hole
Ledi was ready in plenty of time, but she stayed back in the house until the appointed hour of two o'clock. The rest of us meandered down to the church about a block away, awaiting her arrival. Alban, naturally, was feeling like a square peg in a round hole. Being the center of attention and having to wear a suit is not his usual element. It wasn't hard to see that he was beaming from the inside out, though.

At last, Ledi arrived by car, and was escorted by her parents into the church where Alban and his parents waited. The flower girl spread rose petals in the bride's path.

crystal glass at the wedding table
The wedding party dining table
The musicians belted out some lengthy down-home religion songs accompanied by the congregation. The sermon followed, a lengthy parable whose moral was the virtue of patience, strength, and devotion. Hopefully, it was inspirational to the soon-to-be-wed couple. Then came the formalities of the wedding vows. Up to this point, the couple was standing in rapt attention for perhaps an hour.

the wedding sermon
During the sermon
Finally, came the exchange of their personal vows to one another and the wedding rings, and they were hitched, espoused, and conjoined.

The reception line looked more like a rugby scrum to me, with family members in tight, tearful bear hugs. I don't think I've ever quite seen such a sincerely emotional outpouring at a wedding before.

couple's wedding kiss
The Wedding Kiss!

Afterwards, food was served to the hundred or so guests, and we milled about, taking some more photos of the couple and their families outside. We didn't stay until the very end as we wanted to reach the Interamericana highway before dark as we knew the drive home over the Cerro de La Muerte could be treacherous. 

Groom and Bride gazing at one another
The happy couple looking forward to a life together

In fact, it was a painstaking drive home once we were on top of the mountain and darkness and a fog you could eat with a spoon settled over the road. We passed three accidents on the way and there were times we had to proceed at walking speed just to keep the edge of the road in sight.

I delivered the furniture the next morning. Alban and Ledi started settling in the next day. When the "bono" is approved by the government, they'll be building a small house up the hill closer to us. We're looking forward to the new neighbors and watching their family grow.


  1. I say, congratulations to the bride and groom, and I wish them true happiness and a life-long relationship with fond memories. I just love weddings as it's such a joyous occasion and you always get to see people you haven't seen for many years.
    Ledi looked so beautiful in her dress, and you could see the nerves on her waiting husbands face too. Lovely post.

    1. This is the second Tico wedding I have been invited to. I love the informal atmosphere. It really is a time for all the extensions of the families to get together, relax, and catch up.

  2. I am glad you posted this story, and photographs of the wedding. I love to photograph weddings when the bride & groom are from Costa Rican families, and the whole town turns out to eat, drink, and honor the couple.
    Jerome Ives/Ives Images Photo-Art/Atenas

  3. Hi

    very nice wedding photography, Great.

    and many congrats to you


Thanks so much for your comment! - Casey

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