Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wedding Memories

I find it incredibly difficult to describe our wedding using words. Even the photos don't seem to capture it all, though they certainly give an idea of the warmth and positive vibrations of the evening.

Instead of trying to tell you about our wedding in a chronological, narrative fashion, I will simply list some of the moments that stick out in my memory. To those of you who attended, maybe you can add to the list in the comments, as we certainly have different perspectives on the event.

The things I remember most about our wedding are:

- Not knowing if my wedding dress would fit! I bought the dress over a year before the wedding on a trip to visit my mom in California. For various reasons (insane humidity that makes clothes mold over, Rico and I sharing a small flat with no hiding places, our empregada's frequent clumsy tendencies), we decided the dress would be best off left in the climate-controlled safety of my mom's closet. I went back to California in December, but didn't try on the dress specifically because I knew I'd put on a bit of weight and knew that at that point I wouldn't fit in the tight, custom-tailored gown. I didn't want to make myself unnecessarily depressed. So, starting around May, Rico and I started on a bit of a fitness kick. I knew roughly my weight when we'd bought the dress, and that became my goal. However, once in Rio, we didn't go to the gym and I wasn't near the scale. I just had to watch what I ate and pray to God that the dress would zip. For some reason I didn't try it on before the big day. I have no idea why I created such suspense for myself. Anyhow, literally hours before the ceremony, the makeup artist and my mom helped me into my wedding dress. It passed over my hips without a problem (the area I was worried about), however the makeup artist let out a groan as she realized there was no possible way it was going to zip around my chest! Thankfully I had on a bustier (a little lift and filling had been necessary when we purchased the dress) and I breathed a giant sigh of relief when, after removing the undergarmet, the wedding dress zipped without a problem and actually fit better then when I'd had it custom-tailored the year before!

- This was the first time I'd had my makeup professionally done. It turned out beautiful, but it was not a painless process. I had a really difficult time letting Alessandra put the eyeliner on me, especially when she rimmed the inside of my eyes. It was a good thing everything on my face was waterproof, because I had tears flowing even before I was dressed (not from emotion, though, it was a reaction to having someone mess with my eyes).

- My mom and I had our makeup and hair done together, also a first. It was a really nice bonding experience, and she looked absolutely gorgeous.

- I had a personal attendant for the night, a girl called Giselle. She followed behind me all evening with tissues, lip gloss, breath mints, aspirin, band-aids, and anything else I could possibly need. She also made sure I had enough water to drink, that I was able to eat the delicious food at the reception, and that I had someone to hold my pro secco while we took photos and danced.

- I was very relaxed in the hours leading up to the ceremony. I was definitely in the moment, but I wasn't nervous or concerned about the details or stressed about anything. I was just excited for it all to happen. Giselle and the makeup artist commented that I was the most chilled out bride-to-be they had ever seen.

- Emotion did strike, though, as I was walking out of the Casa Rosa on my dad's arm. There was a giant crowd of people outside the house, as that weekend there was an art festival in Santa Teresa called Arte de Portas Abertas. The streets tend to get packed with people doing the arts crawl, dancing to live music, and having a beer as they wander around the old neighborhood and chat with friends. The crowd had realized there was a wedding, and that the wedding party was walking across the street to the church from the Casa Rosa. There were about 30 people gathered when I walked out of the gate with my dad. They all cheered, many took photos, and it was a true feeling of celebrity as I walked across the trolley tracks in my gown, Giselle holding up my train so that it wouldn't get dirty dragging along the cobblestones.

- The high point of emotion for me was entering the church to walk down the aisle. Everyone was there! I didn't cry during the entire ceremony and reception, but I did let out a weird murmur-moan-sigh noise while walking down the aisle, as if there was simply too much emotion inside me and it had to escape somehow since I wasn't giving in to tears.

- We had a live quintet at the church, and I entered to Villa Lobos. I was somehow aware of the music, but it was as if I was walking through water, because I really didn't hear it in detail.

- Speaking of music, ours was as follows:
Entrance of bridesmaids and groomsmen: Divertssiment by Saint-Preux
Entrance of parents and groom: Brandemburg Concert by Bach
Entrance of bride: Bachianas no. 5 by Villa Lobos
Blessing of the rings: Aria on the 4th chord by Bach
Signatures: Canon in D by Pachelbel
Exit: Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Riz Ortolani

- We got married in the Anglican Church, which meant we could choose any music we wanted for the ceremony. Still, we stuck to classical music instead of going with bossa nova or popular songs done instrumentally.

- Our ceremony was bilingual and bicultural. We did the church entrance in Brazilian style (bridesmaids and groomsmen walk in first, as couples; followed by the groom's father and the bride's mother, then the groom and his mother; finally the bride enters with her father). On the altar, all the bridesmaids and groomsmen, as well as the bride and groom's parents stand together for the ceremony. The bride's parents stand arm-in-arm, as do the groom's parents. Rico and I were very grateful our parents all get along well despite the fact that we come from a long line of divorces.

- As for the ceremony, our very cool, young, female Reverend did half the prayers and blessings in English, half in Portuguese. Rico and I had prepared booklets to be distributed among our guests so everyone could follow along in the language he or she understood. In the middle of the ceremony, Jenny, our maid-of-honor, read a passage from Corinthians in beautiful British English. At that point I nearly cried, but for some reason the tears weren't inclined to gush forth.

- One of our bridesmaids fainted at the altar! Good thing Rico's family has several medical doctors. His uncle Marcelo rushed to the rescue, and in a few minutes time, the bridesmaid was back in action. It served a good lesson - I realized I'd been locking my knees, and apparently my dad told my mom to unlock hers as well.

- Rico looked sooooooooo handsome!!!

- We had a total of 8 witnesses sign the book at the altar. Rico signed with his father's Mont Blanc pen, then without thinking slipped it in the pocket of his blazer. When Rico realized what he'd done, he made a joke and handed the pen back to his dad. Instead of accepting it, Rico's dad decided a Mont Blanc would make a nice surprise wedding gift so his son could continue to sign important contracts in style.

- Walking out of the church, once all was said and done, Rico and I were greeted by a massive crowd of people. They all cheered and whistled and took photos of the new couple. One guy hollered out, in good cynical Brazilian style, "Meu irmão, daqui pra frente só piora!" Essentially, my brother, from here on out it's all downhill!

- The security guards we hired for the party had to stop traffic and make a human corridor for us to be able to leave the church and get back to the Casa Rosa. It was a very cool feeling.

- The house looked incredible. Our wedding planner really did a fabulous job with the decorating. There were colored lights in all the right places, furniture from Mineirarte, this shop that does antique-style bar furniture with mosaic tops in the design of the boardwalks on Copacabana and Ipanema. It was perfect, as we'd just redone the courtyard to have that exact type of paving stones.

- In Brazil, you cut the cake right after the ceremony is over, not towards the end of the party like in the US. Rico and I made the initial cut, and I waited silently to see if smashing cake in each other's faces was part of the Brazilian tradition. Thankfully for my makeup, it wasn't. :) Our parents gathered around the cake and we took the first set of formal photos of the evening.

- The cake was gorgeous, and delicious to boot. It was essentially a copy of the famous Lalique cake, but with an ivory background and terracotta leaves and scroll designs, with some gold accents and a cluster of white flowers on the top. We happily left out the cartoon bride and groom on top of the cake, as it fits with neither my style nor Rico's. The cake itself was like a vanilla pound cake but with a spongy texture, filled with a layer of apricot and a layer of brigadeiro branco (like caramel made with condensed milk).

- And then there was the party. The reception was so much fun, so classy, so unique. I could go on for ages. :) I will dedicate a different post to the food and general ambience of the reception as it really deserves photos for you to get the idea.

Phew!! There is so much to remember, so much to write about...


MoziEsmé said...

Wow - it sounds like it all came together beautifully and all that planning paid off!

Marcia said...

Ali, I love the way you wrote about the wedding.

Some things I want to mention:

* I also can't have people do anything with my eyes. You know I did ballet for a GAZILLION years and very quickly the make-up ladies learnt to let me do my own eyes because it was just impossible - tearing galore!
* My hairdresser also told me I was the calmest bride ever. Well, why not? We knew this was right!
* The caramel in the cake sounds DIVINE - Dion loves anything caramel.
* You are BRAVE to not fit on the wedding dress. Mine had to be taken in a bit because with all the running around, I'd lost a bit of weight which I gained back on honeymoon :)
* Yes, Rico was very handsome! And you looked gorgeous too
* I LOVE the idea of a personal attendant. I think I will suggest it to anybody getting married - it just takes away all the stress of worrying about stuff and getting food!

Lacithecat said...


I have many lovely memories of your and Rico’s wedding. You are very right about the lovely job on Casa Rosa. Jaw dropping is an understatement. The cheering when you left the church made me laugh as that jubilance was exactly how I think most of us felt. Not too sure about the hand the in air thing at the end of the service though (smile), but I think it could not have been more perfect. Ah and the reception … how did the guys keep my glass perpetually full without me noticing? And I at too many of the little chocolate things and I can still taste them when thinking back. I did missing dancing, but alas that is no longer really an option – but it was fun watching.

That said, I personally enjoyed very much the reception dinner (at least en par with the wedding and reception – if not more in some ways) and meeting Lauren, Libby and Jeff as well as your mother and father as well as the rest of the family that I heard so much about. Ah … and who would have guessed that you would introduce two Hoosiers that grew up in neighbouring one horse towns. Very humorous.

I did not really meet many of your other friends – but it was quite event and definitely better than I ever could contemplated. Hands down – your dresses just were so you – incredible, feminine and unique.

Just lovely,


Ali la Loca said...

~Moziesmé - The planning, though painful at times, was definitely worth it. We were not stressed, and free to enjoy what ended up being the best party of our lives!

~Marcia - The personal attendant was wonderful. Apparently she comes as part of the wedding planner's package. Rico also had an attendant, but his role was to follow the groom all evening to make sure he didn't drink too much!!

~Lacithecat - I agree, the rehearsal dinner was incredibly special as well. Rico's dad's speech was one of the high points of the wedding for me, without a doubt. And it was really nice to sit and chat with everyone, it gave me a bit of a chance to catch up with people, and I think it made the party the next evening that much better b/c people had already ventured outside their family/social circles.

The hand in the air while exiting the church was inevitable - what else is one to do when greeted by a giant cheering crowd? :)

Amber said...

It really sounds amazing, Ali. I wish I could have seen you in person!