Monday, June 27, 2011

Ezkonberriak! (Newlyweds)

After tons of congratulations and seeing all of our guests, we stopped off at a bar for a pre-lunch drink.  My afternoon drink of choice was white wine - very fitting for a bride I suppose.  Soon after we took advantage of the sunny day and headed to the beach on foot.  Only about a 15 minute walk from the center of town, it was so strange to walk down the street with a white dress and a bouquet - pretty much every stares and smiles at you!

Bride and groom were last to reach the restaurant, and we came in with huge smiles on our faces.  No big grand entrance with clapping or fanfare music, just a happy couple entering Galerna, the place we'd chosen to celebrate the day.  The name means gale refers to a strong sea wind (about 40-50mph), and funny enough, it was quite windy that day.  The restaurant is right next to the beach in Orio and nestled into the mountain.  With an almost 360ยบ view, we could see the mountains, sea and village all in one swoop.  On top of that, it felt almost like a private place just for us, seeing as the rain in the morning had probably discouraged most people from heading to the beach.

Inside, we wined and dined on a second round of pre-lunch drinks and some tasty pintxos to hold us until lunch.  With only about 30 minutes to wait, everyone was getting pretty jovial and talking to new poeple and making friends.  It was quite an international crowd.  First of all, it is a Basque-American wedding and included in the guests were: Basque family, my friends (Basques and some from Spain, London, Austrailia, Sweden and Catalunya), and Joseba's friends (Basque but one from Morroco).  If you walked into the restaurant you would have heard a mix of Spanish, Basque and English!

After the pintxos had been quickly grabbed, we started to head to the lunch table - all 30 of us.  Problem, be it minor, was that the restaurant had lost the seating chart Joseba and I had made.  We didn't really care where people sat, but with the language gaps, we wanted to make sure someone who didn't speak Spanish sat next to someone who spoke English, etc.  So, Joseba and I, with the only hiccup in the entire day, sketched out again what we remembered from the chart and although when everyone was seated it wasn't exactly how we had planned, it was fine and everyone was happy, including us.

At each place setting was a printed menu with our photo on it and our names at the date.  Inside, the scrumptous menu we had decided on.  For starters - a warm salad with cod and peppers.  Not exactly knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised when it came out in a deep boat-like bowl with a delicious raspberry type of dressing to top it off.  Our next plate was a little pastry puff filled with leeks and prawns.  The main course was an entire fish.  It always puts me off to order this fish, because in Spanish it is called Rape, which I feel a bit odd ordering at my wedding, but in all actuality it is only Monkfish, which was fried and topped with some lemon and garlic and was oh-so-tasty.  Dessert and coffee and then after-lunch liquor came last.

As we sat down and started to get chatty, Joseba's mother stood up and caught everyone's attention.  She said, in Spanish, 'We are so happy everyone could be here to celebrate with us, but for Amanda, there is someone very special who couldn't make it and would like to be here, her Grammy.´ And she pulled a gorgeous silver frame from under the table and low-and-behold, a photo of Grammy, so pretty in a new jacket with a huge smile on her face in front of her blooming flowers.  With Maixus eyes filled with tears and mine basically overflowing, I placed the frame right next to my glass and knew it was like she was there with me (although it was 5am her time).  Now, knowing the whole story, it turns out Maixus knew how close Grammy and I are and had asked Joseba awhile back to get in contact with Grammy to have her send a photo.  She then printed it and got a frame so I could feel like we were sharing the day with her.  Amazinginly special, it was the perfect way to start the lunch.

Throughout every course, shouts of various types were heard.  There is 'que se bese', which means 'Kiss her' in Spanish, to which the obvious response is that Joseba and I kiss.  There was also 'muxu bat' (pronounced moo-shoe bat) which means 'A kiss' in Basque, and as you can imagine, a kiss is the only way to quiet that cheer.  There was also 'Gora ezkonberriak', which I guess would translate to something like 'Long live the newlyweds!', which merits another kiss.  Everyone at the table was asking me how to say 'gora ezkonberriak' in English, and they could hardly believe me that we don't have an exactly translated sentence we go around shouting throughout the wedding lunch.  Such a disappointment we are haha.  Speaking of kissing, it is also a very traditional that when the bride leaves the room, that all the women kiss the groom!  So, you can guess what happened one time when I went to the toilet!

Stuffed from lunch, Joseba and I had ordered martini cups with a chocolate pudding with all the works for dessert.  So, when they had taken our fish plates and the kitchen door flung open with a 3-layer cake with sparklers we were both utterly in shock.  Another Maixus surprise for the day!  Atop the sparkling cake was a couple riding a tandem bike and on the bottom tier, two flags made of confectioner's sugar - one Basque and one of the USA.  In the background a song that Joseba had written years ago and sung was playing.  In Basque the lyrics went something like - 'you are my paradise'.

The waitresses placed the cake in front of us and everyone cheered until the sparklers ran out.  Then came time to cut the cake.  Now, in the States, I know how this part of the day goes, but turns out I have no clue how to do it in Basque Country.  So, still somewhat in shock, we ask Joseba's brother, Iker, who was sitting in front of us, what to do, and he said we needed to cut a piece, which we did.  Our piece cutting was met with thunderous applause!  Next, Joseba cut a piece and at this point, I thought we would feed it to each other, but that's not how it works here.  At a Basque wedding, the newlyweds give these two cut pieces to the couple they think will get hitched next.  We passed them to Madeline and John, our friends who live in the UK.  Embarrassed with all the attention, they too tried to pass it off to Emma and Jon, but with no luck.  With lots of cheers, laughs, clapping and kisses, Maixus surprise was a great success and even tastier than I could have imagined!  A soft flaky pastry (think croissant) layered with sweet cream melted in our mouths, and then to our already full bellies!

To wash the cake down everyone ordered an after-drink cocktail, which Joseba's Uncle Ricardo and his boyfriend Jon livened up with some Elvis singing and groovy moves.  Then came another Maixus surprise.  She had purchased a long-stemmed rose for every woman in attendance, and for each boy, a little personal box of chocolates.  I guess your youngest son only gets married once, but this woman was breaking out every surprise in the book!  We passed out the flowers and chocolates together and got to spend a bit of time with every guest.  Upon giving the rose to one of my new aunts, Valentina, she broke down in tears...which to this day I still don't know the motive behind, but still hoping they were happy tears!

Since we were up and moving, after passing out the goodies we decided to have our first dance.  We picked Glady Knight and the Pips' 'Midnight Train to Georgia.'  If you listen to the lyrics, the chorus has one line that is quite special to us.  Months and months ago, when I had been accepted into DePaul for Grad School, I had to make a big decision - go home and study or stay here.  Joseba and I had only been dating a few months, but even at that time I knew there was something special with what we had.  And, in the song, which I listened to a lot during that time period, Gladys says 'I'd rather live in his world, that live without him in mine', which hits the nail right on the head.  So for us, this song is huge.  The problem is, every time I hear the chorus I can't help but cry.  The music started and for me, everyone just disappeared.  It was just me and Joseba dancing, talking and laughing, and me crying from time to time.  I have been told that our dance brought every woman in the room to tears (so I don't feel so bad it wasn't only me).  My friends told me that we looked so happy together, that Joseba held me with such love and that you could the song had such meaning for us.  Our slow-dancing skills might not have been the greatest and more than half the guests probably didn't even understand the lyrics, but for 3:14, I was more than overjoyed to be in the arms of the man I love.  Here is a LINK of our first dance and the second song.  And if you see a man in a blue shirt videotaping everything (even our butts), don't worry, it's only Uncle Ricardo!

The song ended, and I dried my eyes and tried to wipe the mascara stain I'd left on Joseba's white shirt, and then started the first song of the dance music - 'Sweet Soul Music' - which got people up and moving.    Uncle Ricardo was the first on the dance floor and did a knee-slide and a little Elvis shake for us, then came Madeline with a huge hug and then more and more friends.  For the next hour and a half or so, we danced it up, with Aretha, The Jackson 5, Elvis,  The Village People, Otis Redding, The Beatles, La Bamba (whoever sings that) and more fun dancing music.  It was an amazing atmosphere, because at this point, people who didn't know each other 3 hours ago had become friends and everyone was dancing with everyone.  Erika (my boss) dancing with Uncle Ricardo, me dancing with Uncle Jose Miguel, Joseba dancing with my friends - everyone mixed.  But 7pm rolled around quickly and with 'Shout' for our last song, everyone was jumping around and literally shouting!  We definitley worked up a sweat and were happy to have the wind hit us as we left the restaurant.  With a small photo shoot of the family - Maixus, Iker (brother-in-law), Ixaskun (sister-in-law), Irati (niece), Joseba and me with Orio's beach in the background.

Soon after the youngins headed to the Old Part to meet up with friends to continue the celebration and the family headed home or stayed at the restaurant for another.  We met up with another 20 friends at a bar right by the Plaza where we had gotten married earlier and spent the rest of the evening chatting to everyone.  Only at 3:30am did we head home.  Probably my longest party, but definitley this party beats the one I wrote about in my Spanish exam (which I found out I passed).  I went home wtih a smile just as big as the one I came with it, albeit a tired one.  I know a lot of couples are so stressed on thier wedding day that they maybe don't have the opportunity to enjoy it to the max, but we were lucky enough to have a low-key and unmess-upable wedding so we didn't really have a care in the world.  I would honestly do it over in an instant.  To me it was amazing beyond words.  And now, I am married to the man of my dreams.  Who could ask for anything more?!


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