It was Lesbia’s wedding day. Lesbia has been working with us as an external home care assistant since October. Although we only got to know each other fairly recently, she had asked me to be a witness at her wedding. I knew the relationship with her mother was not so good, so that was just one more reason for me to be there on such a special day for her. Lesbia had previously been in a relationship and had a 12-year-old daughter. But this was the first time she would be officially married by law and in church. She felt a little nervous.
The festivities were to take place late Saturday afternoon. Initially she had invited me to the meeting with the lawyer at 3:00 pm at her home. People do not go to a registry office to get legally married here. A lawyer comes to your house for the important moment. The day before the event I received a message that the event was going to be postponed to 5pm.
When I arrived at 5:00 pm on that day, some invited guests were already there in the beautifully decorated hall of an evangelical church. Some of the friends had helped decorating it. Lesbia was expecting about 30 guests, mostly family and members of the Church. The sound system was huge for the relatively small space and was (too) dominant.
The arrangements of the tables did not really take corona social distancing into account. But as COVID-19 measures in Nicaragua are ‘off the public radar’, it did not seem to matter and only a few guests used a face mask. I chose a seat at the back, at a table with a mother and her teenage daughter wearing face masks, and we had a nice conversation.
Civil and church wedding
Soon the lawyer also arrived. However, the bride and groom the newlyweds were still busy getting everything ready, and it was after 6pm when I was called for the solemn witnessing. The bridal couple and witnesses were seated at a table, facing the lawyer. She read out the document she had prepared, including a few important legal rules regarding obligations and rights in marriage, and ending with the final questions to the bridal couple to which they answered ‘yes’. Of course several pictures were taken during this occasion to have a lasting memory of this moment.
The bride then left for a while to change from her red into a white wedding dress for the church ceremony. The church hall was well filled up by now. In the meantime, guests had started singing and clapping along, typical for the exuberance of an evangelical church. The wedding ceremony was relatively short, and every element of the service was focused on the bridal couple. After the ceremony, pictures were taken with many invited guests. The celebrations continued with a meal for all guests. Sometimes people dance at these kinds of parties, but in certain evangelical churches dancing is considered ‘devilish’. Later on, the children who were present had their big moment: the bashing of the piñata till the candies dropped down. At about 20:00 the first guests started to leave, and I followed soon with a few colleagues.
Celebrating at Ruach
Later in the week we celebrated Lesbia’s wedding at Ruach’s Community Home with our core members. We had something tasty to eat and Lesbia was given an opportunity to show photos and tell the housemates about her marriage. And although not everyone could understand what it was all about, everyone enjoyed the occasion and participated wholeheartedly!