A Spanish Wedding: An American Brother’s Perspective
By: Chris Roberts
“Have you ever been to one of these things before?” I casually asked Fernando as we sipped on a white Spanish wine that had been produced just down the road. “No, I don’t think I have,” he responded, surprising himself as the words left his mouth. Fernando stands 6’8”, and was easily recognizable in the small town of Pozaldez, in the northwest of Spain. Polzadez has approximately 500 residents, depending on the time of year, where any outsider stands out like a stick on fire. But Fernando was not an outsider. He left Pozaldez, where his dad is mayor of the town, in the 1990’s to immigrate to the United States. It was then while in high school that Fernando found a true talent for playing basketball, and the difference between American English and British English. He still gets embarrassed when the story inevitably comes up of when he asked his female classmate for a rubber during a biology test.
“Neither have we!” I said to Fernando with a chuckle, which indicated the wine was having more of an effect than I cared to admit. Sarah and I were celebrating our third week of marriage by traveling to Pozaldez to attend another wedding, the nuptials of Fernando’s youngest brother, Rodrigo. Like his older brother, Rodrigo had immigrated to the United States while he was in high school, ready to explore the world by trading small town Spain for small town West Virginia. It was then that my functionally dysfunctional family had volunteered to host Rodrigo during his time in the United States. But he was much more than a foreign exchange student. Rodrigo had become my Spanish “brother”. It was through Rodrigo that I learned the little Spanish that I do know, mostly curse words, which I refuse to repeat. And fourteen years later, even though our waistlines and hairlines had changed, our brotherhood was still the same.
Ever heard the phrase “famous in a small town”? Although small town Spain appears visually in contrast to small town USA, the meaning is still the same. The whole town of Pozaldez is like the Cheers bar, where everybody knows your name. Particularly if you are the mayor’s son. And especially if you’re the mayor’s son and its your wedding day. Crowds of what seemed like paparazzi lined the streets. Horns and sirens blared. The townsfolk were doing their best to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom. Rodrigo and Arantza arrived at their newly constructed home, that they had repurposed as their wedding venue, as the closest thing to royalty that this town of 500 people had ever seen. As they walked through the gate, across the lawn and up to the terrace, the wedding guests filed behind them in anticipation of the festival to come.
The ceremony came and went without one word of English being spoken, not that I expected anything else. It didn’t matter. Love is love, regardless of the language spoken. Rodrigo and Arantza’s love goes all the way back to when I first met Rodri, nearly fourteen years earlier. And though I had only met Arantza once before, she had become my Spanish “sister”. While the encounters had been few, the language was different, and the culture was foreign, we were family. That was evident by the decision they had made to place Sarah and me at the groom’s family table, surrounded by uncles and cousins and all other kinds of animated individuals.
The wedding feast consisted of three courses served over a span of several hours. The table was set with four drinking glasses! We learned one was for water, one was for vino blanco with the fish, one was for vino tinto with the lamb, and one was for champagne to toast the newlyweds. At 12:30am Sarah and I looked at each other, and realized we still hadn't been served dessert. Three weeks earlier at that time, on the night of our wedding, we were passed out on the bed of our tree house, but tonight the party was just beginning.
After the traditional cutting of the cake, with a sword, we eventually made our way out to the main street of Pozaldez and watched a fireworks show that would rival that of Washington D.C. on the 4th of July. The colorful explosions must have awoken those who had not received a wedding invitation, but there were no complaints. Everyone then made his or her way to the dance floor. There, Sarah and I once again ran into Fernando. We danced, celebrating our brother’s marriage into the wee hours of the morning, as family. Check Spanish wedding off the bucket list.