Chapter II: The Wedding Ceremony, Saturday Afternoon, August 1, 2015
Almost every seat was filled and people were standing in the back of the small, simple Iglesia de Dios in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, waiting for the wedding of Rosa and Abraham to begin.
They were waiting for Rosa to appear on the arm of her escort in her white gown, the vision of beauty that all brides convey on their wedding day.
We all love this moment, which reminds us of the promise of new life together, where dreams can be realized with that special someone we have chosen to be with now and forever. Abraham stood on the dais ready to greet her, serious and probably nervous, like most grooms around the world. His parents escorted him there, hugged him, gave him a private message of well-being and returned to their seats.
Abraham’s uncle welcomed the guests to the church.
Rosa’s parents couldn’t be with us because her dad is suffering from acute diabetes, so a good friend stepped in to escort her down the aisle.
A band of young instrumentalists played guitar, drums and electric keyboard to the soprano voice of a young woman who captured our attention, gave us pause to reflect about the union we would witness.
The wedding ceremony included and prayer, a hominy given by a pastor who came from Cuernavaca, and rituals familiar to most marriage ceremonies around the world, with the sharing of rings, joining of hands, kisses, tears, laughter, relief and celebration.
During the ceremony, the pastor acknowledged the absence of Rosa’s parents and Rosa thanked them publicly for their love and support. There were many emotional moments when they were mentioned and missed.
You may notice that the church décor is simple, without the gilded religious symbolism that is so widespread in Mexico, sometimes equal to Spanish cathedrals. With the Spanish conquest came the priests and the will to construct glorious edifices.
Conquest and conversion go hand-in-hand with human history as people act out “my god is better than your god.”
This look, on the right, says it all. Wow, we did it!
I’m not exactly certain, but this may be one of two or three Christian churches in the village that seem to co-exist side-by-side with the Catholic majority, with respect and brotherhood. Many have the same family roots that go deep.
After the ceremony, we lingered in the church courtyard to congratulate the bride and groom, and offer salutations of congratulations. Everyone waited in the hot sun to greet these two wonderful young people with strong values who love each other and are committed to building a life together.
It was an exceptionally beautiful Teotitlan del Valle summer day, with big puffy white clouds against an iridescent blue sky. It was shimmering and hot. Adults and children ran to the ice cream cart out front for a cooling refreshment as others waited in the receiving line.
The afternoon sun cast strong shadows and even with Lightroom correction, the photos have some glare – please forgive me! But this will give you the idea of this wonderfully happy occasion.
Abraham and Rosa, with brother, dad, mom and sister-in-law
Congratulations, Rosa and Abraham! Let the party begin. Next Chapter, the fiesta.
- As is tradition here, the groom and his family fund the entire cost of the wedding, including the bride’s dress. The bride comes to live with her husband and his family in their home, often joining an extended family of siblings, spouses and children.
- There are Protestant missionaries from the United States working in Mexico who represent many denominations. They are especially active in rural Oaxaca and Chiapas, where poverty, lack of access to education and health care are high.
- Some say the missionary movement in Mexico contributes to the erosion of indigenous culture and religious values. Others say it keeps families intact by prohibiting alcohol use while offering a more emotional connection. A positive by-product is a reduction in family violence, usually stress related.
- It takes me about 6 hours to prepare the photos and write the narrative for a blog post like this, plus dealing with really poor internet connections, which I why I’m now down to publishing once or twice a week!
As you read this, please keep in mind that I am an observer, not an academic scholar. There are many academics who have researched and written widely about the topics mentioned here. And, because I was not born into this culture, I am not privy to all the nuances that permeate and underlie relationships. I do know that by suspending judgment and being open to all possibilities, while supporting people to reach their greatest dreams, my life is enriched.
Photography Workshop in Chiapas, Mexico–January 2016