Saturday the 13th of May I was in Buzios, a beautiful town close to Rio de Janeiro, to attend a Brazilian wedding, and by the 20th I was back in Paris to attend my first Moroccan wedding.
The wedding season has officially started and this past week I have already attended the first two (four more to come this year). Of course, nothing exceptional there, except they were both quite different from those I usually attend.
Attending a Wedding in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The first one, which was in Brazil, was an afternoon wedding, with 450 guests attending a celebration near the beach, facing the ocean. Besides the number of attendees, what stroke me the most was the emotional content of the two ceremonies. I would have thought that in a wedding where so many people are invited, there is no doubt that many will not know you well, hence it is difficult to have an intimate exchange of vows. Well, I must be honest, it was the most emotional wedding I have ever attended.
To explain myself, back on my week in Rio. It all started when my Brazilian friend saw my posts on Instagram related to the 52 Weeks Challenge blog I launched in January. He wrote me a message just to see how I was doing, and although we hadn’t seen each other in 3 years, obviously because of the distance, it was just as if we had seen each other a few weeks before. Truth be told, we haven’t seen each other much face to face, we have been in touch mostly via Skype through the years. But sometimes you meet people who are so special and you are so connected to them, that time and distance do not matter (long distance couples can relate I guess). So, one thing led to another, I was invited straight away to his wedding taking place in Rio de Janeiro in May. Brazil has always been a dream for me, as far as I can remember I have been telling people that one day I would live there.
In fact, having lived for half my life in Italy and for the other half in France, and having spent much time around the world, I do not feel like having a home to go back to. And for the past 10 years I have been looking for the perfect country to live in. I have unsuccessfully applied several times to job opportunities abroad. I also always imagine myself living in any country I am visiting to understand what I could excpect from my dream “Home”: I have decided that I want a country where I can work, modern but with extraordinary landscapes, close to the sea, filled with warm people and weather… Anyways, so far no country I had visited was satisfying. But having met many Brazilians during my studies and at work and having always bonded with them easily and naturally (which is uncommon for me in such a short time) I had no doubts that this was the place I was meant to be.
Long story short, I booked my tickets the same day but had no hotel, no plans until the week before my departure, when I had the great idea to ask my friend what I should do. He made me understand that everything would be taken care of, so optimistically I prepared my luggage, left Paris on a Friday afternoon and landed in Rio 15 hours later at 5am Saturday morning with no clue, only waiting to receive some text message from my friend (who was celebrating his Bachelor party that same night). And from there on, I was welcomed by the people, no question asked. My friend’s uncle came to fetch me at the airport at 5am, I arrived at his parent’s house where a room was prepared for me for the week. And from then on I have been included and treated like family during my whole holiday and by all brothers, sisters, nephews and what more.
By the time the wedding arrived, I was invited to attend the smaller religious ceremony on Friday night. And after having lived so close to this family and followed the preparations for a week I was as emotional as if my brother was getting married and cried (as most of the attendees) although I never cry in such occasions. Seeing how moved the bride and groom were was so intense that I can only wish to live the same experience with someone one day. By Saturday, surrounded by hundreds of guest, you might have guessed it, the emotion was exactly the same, maybe even amplified.
In most of the weddings I have attended, and this no matter how much the couples love each other, the hosts are often focused on the organisation, on the timing, on being sure that everything is going according to plans, that the guests are ok, etc. This is the first wedding where I felt, and I am sure that this is because of the way in which Brazilians live their emotions at 100% all the time, that everybody was really absorbed by feeling these intense emotions and nothing else could matter at that moment.
A Moroccan Wedding in Paris, France
Just 3 days after landing in France I attended my second wedding of the month, a Moroccan wedding taking place in one of the fanciest “Hotel Particulier” in Paris.
According to the dress code, I was supposed to buy or rent a Kaftan for the evening reception. In Maghreb, and more specifically in Morocco, kaftans are traditional one piece dresses worn by women on important occasions. Althought it can sound old school, many Moroccan fashion designers as well as several Moroccan magazines have recently succeeded in promoting internationally the Moroccan Kaftan.
I did not really anticipate the difficulty I was going to face: I went several times to some dedicated stores but did not like the quality, the materials and the colors. With all this gold and stones dresses easily look cheap or like a Disneyland costumes.
Obviously I found myself the day before the Wedding with no traditional dress to wear. I gave it a last shot and finally went to higher class shop (which was cheaper for some reason!) and although there were 2 dresses left I found THE ONE. Colourful but not too bright (I tend to look like a doll when dressed in baby pink or light blue) and modern enough to feel confident and not disguised.
Then, once at the wedding, it was a succession of dances and spectacular entrances of the bride (changing in 4 different dresses until 2AM) and the groom. Everyone, from the children to the eldest, have been partying, chanting and enjoying the evening with traditional songs first, and with more recent Pop Hits later in the night.
At times, I admit, I have felt out-of-place as I did not always know how to behave, but it did not really matter honestly.
The most important part of the party was to see this beautiful couple getting married after 7 or 8 years of love. It is inspirational, and both the wedding I attended have confirmed what I should be expecting from someone I am willing to share my life with. Not all couples I am surrounded by can be described as “teams” willing to work on becoming more resilient and patient for the sake of family’s harmony. On a more general level I am always amazed by how much can be accomplished when surrounded and supported by the right people, and in the end that is all we want, grow.