November 7, 2008


As soon as I mentioned the photos, her face immediately lit up. And she was pouring over every image, recounting every detail as if the wedding had only just taken place.

"You know, it’s scandalous what happens in that church in Ronda!" She paused dramatically for effect, pretending to fuss over Lola who was loudly snoring at her feet.

"What do you mean?" I asked, unsure where this was leading.

"Well, you could book your wedding now and find someone to marry later…"

I wasn’t certain now if she was joking or serious because I’ve known her even take joking seriously.

After a long, theatrical sigh, she at last looked up, enjoying every second she was keeping me guessing.

"It’s the waiting list! It runs there into years!

Allowing herself a sly smile, she continued. "I know at least three couples who changed their minds and ended up marrying someone else! And," she added, as if it were the final straw, "And you are forced to attend weekly pre-matrimonial courses. Every single week until the wedding!"

She gave a grim laugh. "And that’s not all," she mused. "The Ronda church is so popular it schedules weddings so tightly on busy days that if the bride arrives a few minutes late, she gets told off by the priest; regular church-goers arriving for Mass stand impatiently by ‘their’ pews and the newlyweds are not only forbidden from hanging about in the aisle after they’ve signed the register but instructed to move away from the church doors before the throwing of rice or rose petals!"

"Are all church weddings here as stern as the Ronda one?" I asked.

"Oh no, not at all! At some, the din made by all the children playing at the back of the church makes the proceedings impossible to hear anyway!"

We carried on chatting a bit longer about wedding receptions and also the fact that here there is no ‘best man’ - and no speeches. It was a topic to which she had clearly given quite a lot of thought recently and, from time to time, a faraway look crept into her eyes and I could see she was picturing herself as she spoke.

Suddenly though she got quite agitated and her voice faltered. "You know, wherever the wedding is held in Spain, it’s supposed to bring good luck for the bride to arrive with her father, the ‘padrino’ and for the groom to be accompanied by his mother, the ‘madrina’. But Juan Antonio’s parents are dead as are mine too. Does that mean our marriage is doomed?"

I had no answer to that one.

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