Now this was a wedding to remember.
The priest in Naco, Sonora, was on a mission: get all those folks living together (in sin) and convince them to marry. He was wildly successful, and fifteen couples decided to wed. All together.
Well, one couple backed out, broke up, or something, so on September 22nd, there were fourteen couples who would marry in a joint ceremony at 4:00. One woman planning to marry was my friend Lupita, and she did it up right, white dress, reception, dancing.
Lupita and Bertín have been together for about twenty-one years and have two children and a grandson. When she invited me to the wedding, I teased her, asking if she thought she knew him well enough to marry him.
I arrived at Lupita’s mother’s house early to photograph her as she prepped and dressed. Then she was driven off to the church in a white car.
The church in Naco has been remodeled, and is lovely. The stained glass windows were open wide, as were the main and side doors. A large painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe hung on the wall behind the sanctuary, and a long mantle hung across the sanctuary. Flowers surrounded La Virgin and were draped on the mantle, and there were fourteen little vases along the mantle. Fourteen somewhat nervous looking men stood around looking self conscious in front of a church so packed that people spilled out the doorways.
Two Mexican nuns, in habits complete with veils, were in attendance, as well as my US friend Sister Mary Rose who was in what she claims is her only dress.
The priest, Padre Memo, walked down the aisle at 4 on the dot. Then, the processional. It played, and played. And it played some more. After all, there were fourteen women and their escorts headed down the aisle!
Lupita shone, accompanied by her mother on her left and her brother on her right.
There was a full mass, including singing. There are no hymnals in the church, so a PowerPoint presentation splashed the words across the screen as PowerPoint music played either piano or guitar as the song required.
Padre Memo had two acolytes assisting him. Near the end of the service, the boy holding the book for him apparently had the book upside down. Memo had to reach down and quickly spin it around so he could read.
The couples ranged in age from mid-twenties to maybe early sixties. They were married by repeating a simple vow. A microphone was passed from couple to couple, with the man saying his vows first. Then Padre Memo pronounced them all married and everyone clapped.
Next came communion, first for the couples, then for everyone else who wanted it.
Now the part I liked the best: the newly married women came forward, placed their corsages in the little vases on the mantle, and gazed up at La Virgin while “Ave Maria” played.
Then more singing, and around 5:30, the service was over. The recessional played (and played) as the couples headed down the aisle. That’s when I saw a second woman I knew, walking with her new husband. I’d had no idea she, too, was marrying that day.
The newlyweds turned at the back of the church, walked down the second aisle and back to the front for group photos.
Eventually, all the picture-taking was done and the couples and families went out the side door for a little brandy with the priest. The rest of us headed to the reception.
Lupita and my other friend, María, shared the reception – after all, there aren’t that many nice places for receptions in Naco, and fourteen couples wanted those places.
The minute the music started, little kids hit the dance floor. I groaned when I saw girls as young as five wore heels an inch or more high.
Eventually, the adults began to dance, too. First the brides and grooms, then others.
We all had barbacoa, beans, and macaroni salad. Beer and wine flowed.
A great wedding, a wonderful reception, and a beautiful, beautiful bride.