Q travel: with BAR­RIE MA­HONEY

‘Twit­ters from the At­lantic'

Q Magazine - - Q Travel: -

Bar­rie Ma­honey was a head teacher and school in­spec­tor in the UK, as well as a re­porter in Spain, be­fore mov­ing to the Ca­nary Is­lands to launch and edit a new English lan­guage news­pa­per. He en­joys life in the sun as a colum­nist and au­thor, and con­tin­ues to write a se­ries of pop­u­lar nov­els and books for ex­pats.

La Boda (The Wed­ding) I gate-crashed a wed­ding last week. In my de­fence, it was a gen­uine ac­ci­dent, but I am rather pleased that I did. Like many peo­ple, I en­joy a good wed­ding; it is one of those events where the power of love forcibly over­pow­ers the cyn­i­cism and doubt that can in­habit some of our lives. It takes the most hard­ened cynic not to feel just a twinge of emo­tion and ‘some­thing of the be­yond' when watch­ing a cou­ple com­mit­ting them­selves to a life with each other.

I was en­joy­ing a drink and peo­ple-watch­ing in one of my favourite bars in a nearby vil­lage when a large crowd of chat­ter­ing and laugh­ing Ca­nari­ans burst through the door. At first I thought that it was a lo­cal fi­esta, but all wore smart clothes and some were car­ry­ing small bou­quets of flow­ers. I soon re­alised from the con­ver­sa­tion that they were at­tend­ing a wed­ding that was tak­ing place in the small church next door to the bar. It al­ways amuses me when I see bars sit­u­ated very closely to the lo­cal church, but Catholic ser­vices to tend to go on for rather a long time, so I guess it is very sen­si­ble plan­ning.

This par­tic­u­lar group of wed­ding guests had ar­rived for the wed­ding ser­vice a lit­tle later than planned, and the small vil­lage church was al­ready full. Un­daunted, the group wisely de­cided to re­lo­cate to the bar next door and to be­gin their wed­ding cel­e­bra­tions early. I was told that both the bride and groom were very pop­u­lar lo­cal teach­ers, which ex­plained the large num­ber of young peo­ple in the group.

Span­ish and Ca­nari­ans don't really do small in­ti­mate wed­dings; it is very much a case of ‘the big­ger the bet­ter', and it is not un­usual to see the un­in­vited chat­ting and gos­sip­ing out­side a church when the cer­e­mony is in progress in the hope of catch­ing a glimpse of the happy cou­ple af­ter the of­fi­cial event, and tak­ing part in the cel­e­bra­tions af­ter­wards. Span­ish wed­dings are best re­garded as marathons, and guests are well ad­vised to al­lo­cate a whole day to the cel­e­bra­tions; they are best de­scribed as a test of en­durance.

Af­ter throw­ing rice over the happy cou­ple (con­fetti is just not done over here), the cou­ple will be in­volved in end­less photo shoots, which is a good time for guests to head to the lo­cal bar, of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by the of­fi­ci­at­ing priest. By the time that the real par­ty­ing be­gins, guests are al­ready very happy and ready to tuck into cock­tails and canapes, fol­lowed by a multi-course ban­quet (sit­ting down, of course). Later, cof­fee and cake are served be­fore guests head to the gen­er­ous open bar and to en­joy the danc­ing and raunchy ‘fol­low my leader' games that will even­tu­ally bring the cel­e­bra­tions to a close.

At this point, you may well be ask­ing how all this par­ty­ing is paid for. Tra­di­tion­ally, much of it is paid for by the guests, which is very much part of Span­ish tra­di­tion go­ing back to the days when this was the only way that a wed­ding could be paid for. If you are in­vited to a Span­ish wed­ding, please don't think that pre­sent­ing the happy cou­ple with an elec­tric toaster will get you off the hook. It will not, but a gen­er­ous amount of cash or a cheque will do very nicely. A bas­ket is usu­ally handed around dur­ing the re­cep­tion to col­lect the gen­er­ous mon­e­tary gifts, al­though the more dis­crete will have paid the money into the cou­ple's bank ac­count be­fore the event. In or­der not to ap­pear a cheap­skate, a wed­ding gift should at least cover the cost of your food and drink at the re­cep­tion, plus a bit more. My par­ty­ing friends told me that 100 eu­ros per per­son is cur­rently re­garded as the ac­cept­able start­ing point.

My wed­ding party, and I say ‘mine' be­cause I was in­vited to join in, quickly en­tered into the cel­e­bra­tory spirit. Later, huge doors were opened to the rear of what ap­peared to be a small cafe bar to re­veal a huge ban­quet­ing hall all beau­ti­fully set out for the lengthy ban­quet to come. We were soon joined by the main guests, look­ing very re­lieved as they es­caped from the church and headed to the bar. Later, much later, the bride and groom would join the party and the real fun could be­gin.

I had un­ex­pect­edly wit­nessed and briefly taken part in yet an­other side of Ca­narian life. Sadly, I had an­other en­gage­ment to go to, and re­luc­tantly left be­fore the bride and groom re­turned from their photo shoot. I left won­der­ing what con­di­tion the guests would be in the fol­low­ing morn­ing, but felt quite sure that they would have given the happy cou­ple a day that they would never for­get.

If you en­joyed this ar­ti­cle, take a look at Bar­rie’s web­sites: http://bar­riema­honey.com and http://theca­nary­is­lander.com or read his lat­est book, ‘Liv­ing in Spain and the Ca­nary Is­lands’ (ISBN: 9780995602724).

Avail­able in pa­per­back, as well as Kin­dle edi­tions. Join him on Face­book: www.face­book.com/bar­rie.ma­honey

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