I took a minute to sit down in the deserted dining hall. My watch said 2am, but the music continued to pour out of the speakers and onto the bride and groom as they danced with family and friends in the ballroom.
My feet hurt, my stomach ached from overeating and over-drinking, but I was so happy. I took in a deep breath of fresh air and could smell all of the roses that had delicately been placed in each corner of the venue. I had to say a little prayer.
-Thank you God for giving me an open heart. Thank you for giving me the courage and dedication to find the resources to travel.
Wendy was my student for a little over a year and I remembered helping her to express herself in English after her husband had proposed to her at Universal Studios. Never in my wildest dreams would I think she would actually invite me to her wedding, and yet there I was, in Porto Alegre, Brazil attending the only wedding I’ve ever gotten teary-eyed at.
There’s a lot of evil in the world, that’s certain. But there is also a lot of love and beauty out there as well. Wendy and her husband, Eduardo, were radiant with love and kindness towards each other, their family, and their friends. about the wonderful story about him dropping down on one knee in front of the Hogwarts’ Express, but I wasn’t sure. Some people do romantic actions just for show, or just to please the other person, and I was afraid that maybe I would feel like Edu wasn’t good enough for Wendy, because even though I’d only taught Wendy online, I knew what an amazing person she was.
Because even though our relationship was built online, it was real.
I’m happy to say that Edu’s love for Wendy is real too.
And furthermore, her friends are real. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous to attend a wedding where I wouldn’t know anyone, or the language that they were speaking, but while Wendy was busy with wedding things, her best friends Maura and Marcella were by my side. It helped that they spoke English and that I know some Portuguese, but those that didn’t know any English were patient with my Portuguese. Over 300 people were invited to Wendy’s wedding, but Wendy took the time to make sure I felt included. I wasn’t just invited to the wedding, but I felt part of it, going to the bachelorette party days before, and being included in watching Wendy get her makeup and hair done. With all of the stress that is involved in planning a wedding, I couldn’t believe how much time Wendy set aside to spend with me.
So now the fun part. What happens in a Brazilian Wedding?
The program said that it started a 4. We arrived at 5.
I got back to the hotel at 4AM.
A beautiful outdoor ceremony took place under a large willow tree. Eduardo’s various little cousins walked down the aisle in their adorable tuxes and dresses, distributing flowers and smiles as they innocently stole the show. Eduardo’s face seemed to say “There’s my wife” as Wendy gracefully walked down the aisle with tears in her eyes. This wedding was considered a bit nontraditional as it didn’t take place inside of a church. The minister spoke about love and how they had chosen to use their initials “WE” as the theme of their wedding. Now they are officially a “We” instead of a “Me.” They exchanged their vows poetically and in the form of a story, rather than a list of promises.
The wedding party in Brazil is made-up a little differently than in the U.S. Rather than the bride choose girls and the groom choose men, they each choose couples. Wendy’s girlfriends and their boyfriends/husbands were in the wedding party. It’s like asking someone to be your bridesmaid, and then they ask someone to be their +1 but to also be in the wedding.
I felt quite under-dressed. Even though Wendy had assured me ahead of time that my dress was perfectly acceptable, and that it wasn’t going to be fancy wedding, I felt a pain of regret because I had prettier and fancier dresses at home that I never get a chance to wear. The Brazilian definition of a “not fancy” wedding was obviously a bit different from my definition. However, the important thing was that Wendy looked stunning in her dress. I knew that what I was wearing was of least importance to anyone else there.
Food. Glorious food. I can stress enough how I could’ve sat there for 3 days straight eating the same meal served at that wedding. The cocktail hour of cheeses (including brie: my favorite) was just a tease for what came next. A dinner of what I can best describe as a potato casserole with sirloin and salad arrived in front of me. After polishing off this plate, along came my cake and ice cream.
This cutting of the cake is not a tradition here. There was no smashing each other in the face with cake in this situation (I have a feeling Wendy would’ve killed Eduardo if had done this anyway). It was a civilized dessert scene.
And if you didn’t get your fill, there was a dessert table full of brigadeiros (a Brazilian sweet consisting of condensed milk and cocoa), dulce de leche and many other things that could easily be plucked from the table and tossed into your mouth.
As well as these options, at the end of the night, milkshakes, small hot dogs, and pulled pork sliders were passed around.
They call it a “caipirinha island”, caipirinha being a traditional alcoholic drink in Brazil consisting of cachaca. Cachaca is a spirit made from sugarcane. You can add different fruit juices to it, but the traditional one is made with lime and mint and resembles a mojito.
I enjoyed them, but ate waaaaay too much to even feel the affects of the alcohol. At one point I gave up trying.
Finally, it was party time. Instead of your usual boring first dance, Wendy and Eduardo actually took dance classes so that they would have more of a routine to show. It was probably the cutest thing I’d ever seen at a wedding. Once everyone started dancing, the music started out slow and then picked up through the night.
The music included a bit of everything, a few rock songs, samba, funk, hip hop, probably everything except classical music was in that mix. But by far the most memorable thing about the music was the violinist. Yes, there was a DJ and a live violinist. He would play along with the music to spice it up a bit and It was simply amazing.
I kept looking around in awe and amazement and tried to grasp where I was. I put on the flip flops that were offered as a party favor to the women and went back to the dance floor. Even thought I was exhausted, I didn’t want the night to finish. It was more fun that I could’ve ever imagined. All I could think was “Thank God I didn’t get a new job this year, otherwise I would’ve missed this.”
I walked up to my new friends to tell them goodnight in the end and tears poured from my eyes. I don’t know if it was a combination of fatigue, alcohol, and emotions that made me get….well…emotional, but I kept thinking of how hard it is to have friends all over the world because you constantly miss them.
In the end, I will never be able to express my gratitude for being invited to this wedding, and even more to express my gratitude for how everyone welcomed me as if they’d known me for lifetime.
Overall, I wish Eduardo and Wendy a lifetime of happiness and they can expect an invitation to my wedding someday (assuming I decide to get married).