When we first thought about having the wedding on the island, we had to start thinking about the logistics of the event. We didn't want anything fancy, but some things still needed to be worked out.
The company that employs movieStar has three hotels on the island. All small, sustainable ones. Two of them are beach hotels, and the third one is up on a hill, an old plantation house that's been restored. It wasn't even supposed to be a hotel, it just happened that way.
We first thought about a beach wedding, on that same beach where we had met, and I had proposed. It was hard to get away from that as a first idea, the beach is important on the island, and even more so on our story.
The general manager of that particular hotel was also one of my best men, and he wanted to host the wedding there. But so did the other general manager! We had two beach side hotels to pick from! Talk about first world problems!
At the same time we were spending a lot of time at the third hotel, the one on the hill. It's the only one where there's a local community living in the premises, and that's where most of our friends live. We were spending most of the time there as well.
The location was picked. It would not be a beach wedding after all. It just felt natural to do it there. There was no argument, no back and forth. It was settled.
We also knew we'd have only a few guests flying over from home. It's far, hence not cheap to get there, and people have jobs and families. Very early in the planning we knew, and wished, the party was going to be for our friends from the island. We wanted them to have as much fun as we did, and were happy to find out they were throwing themselves at it. In fact they took over most of the planning process as soon as we told them we were getting married at their home.
Just like that we had a wedding planner, someone to cook for the 250+ guests, the priest was thrilled to perform the ceremony. No one had wed at that church for over 40 years! There was a local hairdresser for movieStar, and someone to handle make up. I got a haircut too!
From Portugal movieStar asked her mom for dishware, and wedding sparklers. We got both.
Someone arranged for a choir; someone else took care of the church decorations; another one started taking care of the transportation for everyone. It's a modest island, most people have no form of transportation, so that was important. We had to pick a DJ, as a couple of friends wanted to do it. One of the barmen from the hotel would be making caipirinhas!
We did the minimum, no one would allow us to be bothered with the details.
We just told everyone they should come on that date, and not much else. And we were even late for that, as our priest made sure to tell everyone at Sunday mass that they should attend the wedding.
My parents wouldn't make it, movieStar's would be able to come. My brother would too. movieStar had two close friends flying over as well, the bridesmaids. One of my best friends made it too. He was almost boarding the plane when we found a issue that needed to be solved.
The priest told us we had to show proof of our christening. movieStar had no problem finding the paper, I wasn't so lucky.
I told him that I had been through it many decades ago, in a small village in the Portuguese mountains, my mom's hometown. The church papers would be impossible to find. I had also spent over a decade at a catholic school, maybe that would prove I was part of the gang for a while now, but he had to trust my word. No luck. He needed the paper.
My mom even sent over a photo of the day, an old black and white memory, but he wasn't convinced. There was no beard on that baby's face!
So I found a way around it: I would be baptized again! The priest agreed to do it on the day before the wedding. Just in time for Pedro's arrival, he would be my (new) godfather. My godmother: Rosita, one of our guardian angels from the island.
There was still time to throw us a bachelorette party, and a bachelor one as well. The girls went for a boat ride around the island, the boys spent a day at the beach, having beer. All had fun.
And the big day arrived.
Our guests from Portugal had arrived, and the local ones were ready to go.
movieStar had slept at a friends place, and I slept at our home in town. We'd been together forever, but our friends from the island would not allow us to sleep in the same bed on the night before the wedding! Ok, then...
My brother and Pedro were staying at home with me. We woke up, I finished ironing my shirt, and drove us to the hotel.
Manuel, our wedding organizer, had a brilliant idea. He wanted to string a rope around some trees, and hang some bananas on that rope. Sadly a lightning bolt struck the biggest tree the night before, it was now lying on the ground, as were his dreams of a banana themed wedding! No bananas for the guests, at least no bananas hanging from trees.
The food was ready though, the church was decorated, the choir was practicing. It was all set. All that was missing was getting us to the church.
The bride was undergoing hair and makeup procedures in the hotel, I went into a side room and got dressed. Then headed to the chapel. It was packed full! People were standing outside, unable to go in. Seemed like the whole island had come to the wedding. It was moving! I felt honored.
A few minutes later the bride came in, and I couldn't hold the tears back any longer. It was the hottest day in the history of the world, I was soaking wet, I was crying, and as happy as I'd ever been. To this day I still can't figure out why this woman decided to share her life with me!
The ceremony started, and it's all a blur on my mind. I know we talked through the whole thing, the priest was nice and sweet, and added some humor to the wedding. There was chanting, laughing, a lot more crying, and soon we were exchanging wedding rings. We kept looking back at everyone. We'd been to countless weddings before, but now it struck us: the bride and groom have their backs to everyone, and that doesn't seem fair! We wanted to look at our friends, we wanted to see their faces.
And... We were married. Again!
Lunch would follow. With music, and an a capela ensemble from another church. Beer and caipirinhas were flowing already, and dancing as well. It was the coolest party ever! We had an incredible wedding cake, the only thing not made by our guests. The pastry chef from the hotel was kind enough to bake that one. A cousin back home had made two figurines (both of us in clay), and they proudly stood on top of the cake.
When sunset arrived we were exhausted, and still had another thing planned: we moved the party to the other side of the yard, where our friends live. They had prepared crac, a local delicacy made with land crab, and a favorite movieStar treat. More music and dancing too.
Pedro, an incredible photographer, was kind enough to shoot through the whole thing, and made a slideshow with the photos. It's one we've watched countless times since then, maybe you'd like to take a look...
At the end of the day everyone seemed happy. People had fun, we had managed to throw a huge party and everybody felt included. That was our goal. People from city had mingled with people from the country side, people from different church denominations had come together for a wedding, our family members and guests had experienced an island we'd been calling home for a while. Now they could understand why we did that. All our lives are linked to that special place forever.
There you have it: two weddings, and one family as a result.
On to the rest of our lives!