Friday, March 18, 2011

Part-time Program Director, Part-time Weddding Planner

Don’t worry Dad, it wasn’t my wedding. 
But why not throw a wedding in 36 hours? Brad (the co-founder of LTN) and Laura (the executive director of LTN) decided that the next time they were in Nicaragua they would throw a wedding for Magaly and Noel. The couple live in La Chureca and have been together for 7 years. They raise a happy family of 3 kids, and desperately wanted to get married, but never thought twice about it because they didn’t have means to do so. Brad and Laura wanted to throw them a little celebration and cover the minimal expenses to allow them to officially get “married”. A little celebration?  We should have known better. Nothing is “little” here in Nicaragua.
Emma, a friend from teaching at Breakthrough the past two summers came down to visit during her spring break from grad school. Thank goodness she was here. Her Spanish speaking expertise, willingness to go with the flow, attention to details, and genuine excitement to dive into any and every project made her an integral and necessary part of the wedding planning team.
So in a matter of 36 hours, Laura, Emma and I needed to figure out:
A location
A wedding dress
A cake
A pastor
A bus to transport family members
A civil ceremony-to make it official
A lawyer
And witnesses to testify

And somehow-we pulled it all off. 
Papa Cisneros, the owner of the hotel, and lawyer of the ceremony
We began with the civil ceremony at the hotel. William Cisneros, the father of the family who owns the hotel, also happens to be a lawyer. Convenient. The couple was lectured about proper marriage rights, only between a man and a woman. The husband is to raise money to provide for his family, while the wife is supposed to take care of the family and have children. Witnesses proudly stated their support, papers were signed and the wedding was official.
THEN for the fun celebration. We hired a bus to drive the family to the wedding. 50 family members of the bride and groom showed up! Laura, Emma and I drove up with Magaly and her maid of honor. Brad was in charge of the groom. The beautiful celebration took place at Halle’s field, a sport complex 30 minutes outside of town. It’s run by an ex-pat who has been down in Nica for 12 years, and opens his home and land up to kids who want a safe place to come and play.  The beautiful covered porch on the grounds was perfect for the wedding.

The ceremony was absolutely beautiful. 

 We had the exact right about of food, and had one piece of the really classy Nicaraguan wedding cake left over. 
"Feliz Boda" Happy Wedding!

Everything worked out perfectly. Including the cake fight that the groom started. We all left completely filled with joy, and completely covered in icing. Thanks to a group from Denver that was down with Brad, the set up, food and clean up happened quickly and (seemingly) effortlessly.

Brad, Laura, and the happy family
This wedding wasn’t sponsored by any organization. We didn’t try to put it in a box and claim that it was solving any problems or fitting under the mission of any organization. This was simply a vision by Laura and Brad to reach out to Nicaraguan friends as fellow human beings full of love, dreams and desires. It was such a joy to watch 50 family members simply enjoy each other’s company for the evening. Who knows if the family has ever been together like that before?
Trust me, they were all happy. Nicaraguans just don't smile in Pictures...

So I took pictures of every combination of all 50 family members at the wedding. I stood with my camera at the ready as the bride and groom led me around, and asked me to take photo after photo.  I have 660 pictures from the wedding. They asked if they could trouble me to print out some pictures of the family so they can proudly hang them up in their homes. I watched the families interact, both through the lens of my camera, and through my own eyes. I can’t begin to express the power of the love and togetherness that I was surrounded by on Wednesday.

Wedding planners stepping back to take it all in...
And we asked Magaly what Nicaraguan wedding traditions were? What did she want in the ceremony? What was important to her? She responded, ‘being with her family, being happy, celebrating with everyone who she cares about’.  Though the perfect evening didn’t even come close to breaking the bank, it was worth every penny to see how happy and proud it made this “forgotten” portion of the community.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that you guys were able to make this happen. Can't wait to see all 660 pictures! love you!