Tag Archives: Wedding

Friends Get Married

I’ve hit that age when everyone you know starts getting married. Some even start having (gasp!) babies! In the last year alone I’ve been to weddings in Serbia, the U.S., Germany, and Paraguay (oh, and there was that time I met my BFF’s baby in the Bahamas.) It’s expensive to keep up with so many friends and their love lives, but it’s also so much fun!

Every country has their traditions – some of them seem weird (actually, no, they ARE weird, but let’s not debate semantics here) but they are all equally as crucial for the couple getting married and for the guests in attendance. Here is a list of some of the things I found to be the strangest, or most unique, in the “foreign weddings” I attended this year:


Vladi and Ive

Vladi and Iva

  • The first wedding is in a church (pretty standard) and not all wedding guests are invited to attend – this is usually a small, intimate ceremony that lasts about half an hour – the couple must accept congratulations and smile and pose with every guest who came to the church for the photographer
  • When you walk outside the church, there are local gypsy brass bands that come up to the wedding party and play music – their music becomes more insistent the longer they play, often putting the horn of the instrument directly in your ear and playing at full volume until you give them some cash (at this particular wedding the best man also brought the gypsy band to the party, much to the delight of all the guests) – keep in mind, these guys can pull in thousands of dollars a night for a big wedding
  • When you arrive to the reception, the couple once again stands outside and poses with every. single. guest. (in this case about 350 people) Only after every guest had their photo op does the party begin.
  • Lots and lots of different cakes.
  • Oh, and the photographers have printers on hand and walk around the party distributing photos that guests can buy on the spot (this is not so much weird as awesome!)
Brass Band

Gypsy Brass Band


(This was a mixed wedding: half East German half Northern England, i.e. Geordie)


Ali and Neil

  • Straight from leaving the church the friends of the bride and groom hold up an old bedsheet which has a giant heart drawn in the middle, and the name of the bride and groom inside of that. The bride and groom are each given a pair of tiny scissors and they must work together to cut the heart shape out. Once complete, the groom then carries the bride through the opening they’ve created in the sheet.374396_10152077898159278_1848781778_n
  • German tradition is that as the first true test of marriage, the newly wedded couple must work together as a team to saw apart a foot in diameter log using an old school, massive saw. The first marital row, if you will, ensues.995734_10152077899664278_1485770867_n
  • This might just be East German, not totally sure, but the bride and groom are each given two giant loaves of bread – they must create a pair of shoes from this bread. The first one to walk across the stage (or room) in their new shoes wins!
  • Each guest is given a balloon filled with helium and a postcard pre-addressed to the bride and groom. Each guest writes a message to the couple and ties the postcard to the balloon. Everyone releases the balloons at the same time (great photo op!) Once the balloon finally lands (wherever that may be) it’s up to any random stranger passing by who finds it to mail it back to the couple. (Strangely, our postcard made it back to Ali and Neil from the Czech Republic!)


(This was a mixed wedding half Paraguayan half Colombian – so the traditions may be a bit mixed up – at least in my mind)

Nati and Luis

Nati and Luis

  • There is a traditional Paraguayan dance at the beginning of the reception and every guest must dance for a few minutes with the bride and groom (men with the bride, women with the groom) and smile for a photo op!
  • Ligas – this took me a while to understand! The bride has about 20 garters under her dress (one garter for each single woman at the wedding). One garter is special (i.e. a different color) and the rest are traditional white. The bride sits opposite the single women (one at a time) and they each lift their right leg and touch the souls of the shoes. The groom then takes one garter from the bride’s leg and must slide it across their legs and feet and up the thigh of the single lady. His “last chance to touch another woman” if you will! The woman who gets the colorful garter is the next to marry. Ligas in Paraguay
  • Masks/hats/whistles/glow sticks/silly string, etc – Boxes of costume-like hats and whistles, (see list above) are distributed to guests to liven things up. I have to admit, this makes the party a hell of a lot more fun!
  • Whiskey – easy as that, the drink of choice for the night is whiskey, the nicer the better
  • For the Colombian tradition that stood out most, aside from sharing a bottle of whatever they were passing around, is some dance where a woman lies on the floor (or I suppose it could also be a man?) and all the party guests dance feverishly over her. (See example of Mapale here.)


As I continue to grow my international network of friends, I will continue to observe the oddities of culture, which are never more openly displayed than in time-honored traditions such as weddings!


A Homecoming Worth Celebrating: More Wedding Photos

 All of these photos come from Laura’s photographer – Heather Carey. You can view more at heathercareyphotography.com

Father Walking The Bride Down the Aisle.

The Vows.

The Crying Bridesmaids.

The Kiss.

The Bride and Groom!!

The Wedding Party.

A Homecoming Worth Celebrating: The Wedding

Freshman or Sophomore Year - Where it All Began

Going to your BFF’s wedding is not something you can totally prepare for, especially when the event will be a reunion after 2 years of not seeing each other! Laura and I met our freshman year of college, in an outdated, above-the-legal-limit high rise dorm on the Tulane University campus. We moved in to the dorm on the same day (along with about 1,000 other new students,) and happened to be in the same elevator heading up to the 11th Floor – soon to be our shared home for the next 9 months.

 On that fateful day, my dad decided the almost full elevator could handle one more heavy item, my TV. As it turns out, it couldn’t and so we spent the next 45 minutes cramped into a tight space stuck in between floors. That was when I first got a look at my future BFF and her Mom looking panic-stricken in the corner, breathing in the recycled air with deep breaths.

Laurita and I in College

From then on we were close as could be, going through the usual exhilarating and devastating experiences that make up a typical college existence. Post-college she moved to Miami to be with her beau – eventually returning to their native Bahamas, and I returned back home to NY. We went through our ups and downs as the distance pulled us apart, but always came back together in the end to tell our lives’ woes and spill whatever gossip was going on at the time.


Fast forward to 4 years later, here I was boarding a plane from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, The Bahamas to see my friend marry the love of her life.

The Happy Couple the Day Before the BIG Day

Not only was this the happiest of occassions, but it was also a reunion of great proportions. Seeing people from college, and friends and family of the bride and groom I’ve met numerous times over the last 8 or so years was a nice reminder of how connected you are to so many different people in the world.

On the wedding day, we met at the bridal suite at 9 in the morning to begin our preparations for the day. Laura hired her hair dresser and a makeup artist to make her already beautiful bridal party (wink wink) even more stunning. We spent all day being pampered, primped, and poked with eyeliner pencils, and came out looking fresh and beautiful and ready for the cover of Bridal Magazine 2011.

Bridesmaids and Mother of the Bride

Then we met our groomsmen in the hallway to take us down the aisle and stand in front of a packed house. I followed suit behind the maid of honor, the lovely Tory Millar, and waited anxiously for Laura to begin her trek. As she walked down the aisle, arm in arm with her father, I felt a lump rise to my throat that I desperately tried to keep at bay. 

The bridal party ready for action

It wasn’t until the groom began reading his presonal vows that the lump took control of my body and began to send involuntary tears down my cheek. That’s when I heard the stifled sniffling from behind. Upon completing his vows, Laura took charge and started reading her witty, loving, and well thought out vows to her husband-to-be. And then all hell broke loose. Us 5 bridesmaids stood up front, watching our BFF read her vows to Benji, with tears (and snot) streaming down our faces. We tried desperately to keep it together, but much to our own dismay, or amusement, were not able to, (I might have even had a minor fit of hysterically laughing when I realized the severity of the situation.) It was then that the bride turned to her sister and requested a tissue to wipe her own tear-soaked face. The true mark of friendship is when on your wedding day you are passed a tissue from the back of the line, up to the front, with all of your best friend’s tears already soaking on it…and then you blow.

I Do’s were said, legal documents were signed, a kiss was given, and the ceremony came to a close. Laura and Benji were married!!

Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Pinder! (Should be noted: This Was a Post-Ceremony Kiss)

 We gathered around for photos, (while we still looked put together,) and quickly made our way to the bar for a celebratory signature cocktail, Pink Lemonade, (spiked, of course!) Between the live band and the DJ, we danced and drank the night away. And the bridesmaids found clever ways to tie up the bottoms of our gowns (which were dragging way too heavily on our feet as the night wore on!) And the bride was beaming with happiness!


And now I couldn’t be happier for the Bride and Groom and wish them nothing but the best and brightest in their future together. Congrats, Laura and Benji!

A Homecoming Worth Celebrating: Part I – Florida

After eight months of living in the wilds of Europe, I finally had the chance to return home. Thanks to my college BFF inviting me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding party, I booked a ticket across the Atlantic for a 2 week trek through Florida, The Bahamas, and New York.

The week started out with a grand reunion with my mom at the West Palm Beach Airport 2 weeks ago. We hadn’t seen each other since March. We laughed, we cried, we hugged, and we ate at Cheesecake Factory (yum!) It was 5 days of total relaxation, shopping, good food, and working on our tans. I had to be nicely bronzed for the upcoming wedding, after all!

My Future

My grandma also lives down in Jupiter, (Hi, Grandma!) and we had plenty of time for nice dinners where she lives, and at nearby restaurants. It was so nice to be among people who really knew me! And of course to be showered with love and gifts from Mom and GJ. It was a great week, even despite my terrible jet lag which had me really living like a local, (read, senior citizen – sorry, Dad!) Up at 6, breakfast at 7, lunch by 11, and dinner before 5…all topped off with bedtime at 8! What was the world coming to?!

Of course, now that I am experiencing the reverse jet lag (having just returned from this whirlwind yesterday afternoon,) I find myself living the rebellious teenager’s lifestyle, fighting my bedtime by writing on my computer until 2 am, when I really should have been asleep 2 hours ago!

Anyway, I finally kicked my initial jet lag just in time to hop a flight over to the Bahamas for the long-anticipated wedding of the year! With my long purple gown and my new 6 inch Michael Kors pumps in tow, Mom and I battled traffic to Fort Lauderdale, where I boarded my next flight to Nassau, The Bahamas.

…To Be Continued…

A Bridge to Belgrade

Post adapted from April, 2011:

Okay, so there was no real bridge crossing to enter Belgrade, though as I learned in my few days in the city, there most certainly is a lack of bridges from one part of the city to the other. It might be the only complaint I heard while there, that there are just not enough bridges, and the ones that are open don’t have enough lanes for all the traffic that attempts to flow through them.

Belgrade was a bridge of different sorts for me. It was a bridge to A’s childhood. A bridge to his family and friends, a bridge to a language and culture I know nothing about, and a history so foreign from my own.

But in spite of, or perhaps because of, all of the differences, it was without a doubt one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited. For all that is different about it, and for all that I learned and experienced being there in the comforts of a local, I am excited to plan the next visit back.

I arrived on Friday night to rainy weather, which pretty much stayed with us throughout the weekend, (but gave us slight hope every so often with breakthrough bursts of sunshine.) We went over to his cousin’s place, drank some of the wine his father makes at home, and headed to a club with a live band. I recognized most of the music, who doesn’t recognize American 80’s, and enjoyed the 35 Euro champagne we had delivered to our table until the smokey bar became too much, and the realization that I had a hair appointment bright and early in the morning and it was well after 2 sunk in.

The next day I was pampered by A’s hairdresser, who was terrified I had cut my skull in the bike accident I’d had just a week earlier, but who I had A calmly explain to was just a bad dye job from the day before, where for some reason they couldn’t figure out how to wash the red dye OUT of my hair before sending me on my way. A hundred curls and a couple hours later and we were on our way to the wedding! Stylishly 30 minutes late. (ouch)

The ceremony was completely different from any I’ve seen before. It was in a small Orthodox chapel and the bride and groom were surrounded on both sides of the room by family and friends, all standing. They were in the middle and performed rituals I didn’t quite understand, but that involved wearing a crown and walking in a circle three times with the priest in front and smoke (incense?) in hand the room.

At the Ceremony

Then once the Bride and Groom were pronounced, and every guest visiting had the opportunity for individual photos with the B&G you stepped outside to a beautiful courtyard where there was a live band! Okay, that might be a bit of an overstatement, as I later learned, since it was a gypsy band that would play as loud as they could and would stand directly in front of whoever looked like they might have some change to spare and blow their trumpet into your face until you gave in with a couple of rolled up bills, (having never seen this before, I still thought it was pretty cool!) We then headed off to the reception which was in a completely separate part of the city where we awaited the B&G with cocktails in hand and hor d’ourves.

Me and My Main Squeeze 🙂

The party lasted late into the night, with the Best Man pleading for another round at a club to follow. Of course as we were about to head out, it became evident that all the Best Man, (and any of us) needed was a comfy bed to spend the night…and probably a few less drinks than we had already had.

The wedding was just a part of the weekend, albeit a big one. But also included was the Serbian Open where A, his dad, and I watched national-hero Djokovic win gold, and a trip to a nearby bakery where we had delicious desserts with his mom.

Even though he was being a total diva, I guess he deserves to win in the stadium named after him!

I left this whirlwind weekend behind with thoughts and dreams of returning to get to the know the city and A’s family better one day. And until we returned a month and a half ago, just dreams they were.