Marta and John's Rehearsal Dinner

Trip Start Aug 08, 2006
1
30
36
Trip End Oct 11, 2006


Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow

Flag of Spain  ,
Saturday, September 30, 2006

Time: 21:00, The eve of the wedding
Place: Lodosa, SPAIN
Event: THE REHEARSAL DINNER

Throughout the last two days, the frequency of drop-in visitors and family members had been increasing dramatically. The doorbell and telephone in Marta's house kept on ringing incessantly with good wishes and congratulations from Europe and America. Bouquets of fragrant flowers also had been arriving in all sizes. The atmosphere around the house could be described as festively chaotic. In this town of 5,000 people where one could not walk more than a block without being stopped by friends with warm greetings, the town was one big family. Everybody knew each other here, and going to the corner grocery store or stopping at a cafe meant saying hi to someone you knew well. The air around this town was very freshly personal. In fact, most of the people in this town were on the invitation list to the wedding. The joy of special events was shared equally among the townspeople of Lodosa.

At 18:00, both Marta's and John's families went to the medieval cathedral in the town center for a brief rehearsal of the ceremony with the Polish priest. Because of the presence of the non-Spanish speaking American guests, the priest would conduct the service in both Spanish and English. Also, Marta and John asked the priest permission for me to play a piano piece I had written for them. The priest gave his consent that it could be played at the conclusion of the ceremony. Now, the pressure was on for me to practice on the family's piano at home. I also tried to cajole Victor, Marta's cousin with a great tenor voice, to sing the lyrics of the piece. He so far reluctantly agreed, so we rehearsed many times together.

At around 21:00, John's parents invited all of Marta's family and relatives to a rehearsal dinner at a hotel restaurant. In America, a rehearsal dinner was a practice party traditionally hosted by the groom's parents on the eve of the wedding, the general purpose of which was to present a great opportunity for two families to get better acquainted before the wedding day. This was also a great opportunity for two families with two distinct cultural backgrounds and wedding traditions to blend and unite as one.

Everybody was dressed very formally. The matriarch of the family, Marta's 92-year old grandmother, was present with all of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren -- in total almost 35-40 people strong. On John's side were his parents, sister, and friends from various parts of the US. It felt like a gigantic Thanksgiving Dinner where everybody close to the heart was congregated for a huge celebration. Because of the language barrier between the two families, I suddenly found myself called on, quite spontaneously, by John's family and friends as well as Marta's family to serve as the official impromptu translator. Before dinner, I heard my name called out quite often when the two families were chatting. John's father, Marta's father, the uncles, friends, many people would wave at me to come offer some translation assistance. Because I had just spent 2 weeks in Italy, where I was speaking a lot of Italian, I found myself sometimes translating into Spanish with a tint of Italian -- which sometimes sounded very awkward.

The dinner was sumptuous -- a barrage of typical Spanish appetizers, beefsteak with Roquefart cheese sauce or Spanish pimiento sauce, and various desserts. Then, John's father stood up to make a toast. He looked at me and requested for my assistance. I placed my napkin on my lap and slowly rose. He made a beautiful toast to the two families united at the table, and to the soon-to-wed couple, who were looking into each other's eyes dreamily. One after another, John's friends and sister rose to make poignant toasts, and as well, as soon as I had just sat down, I had to rise to the occasion literally, and translate the toasts to Spanish. Some of the toasts were tricky, like Steve's witty English rhymes, which I could not preserve in the final translation into Spanish. Then there were other toasts with colloquial idiomatic expressions, like "to stay together through thick and thin," which I had to loosely interpret as "being everywhere together, through good and bad times." Then Marta's uncle came and tapped me on the back; he also wanted to make a toast in Spanish. So I stood up and translated into English a very touching toast to the couple and the union of two families.

The wine was flowing amid laughter and joy. Marta's grandmother also sang a traditional folkloric Spanish song, a jota, a capella. She got a resounding applause. After the rehearsal dinner ended at around 12:30AM, I went with the younger crowd to a club to have a few drinks while the parents and uncles of the couple went to a local cafe. This was only the prelude to what was to follow on Sep 30. The wedding party indeed was now underway!
Slideshow Report as Spam

Post your own travel photos for friends and family More Pictures

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: