Belize Wedding Day 2: Ceremony

The big day! I honestly expected to spend the entire day fretting and fussing and trying to get last minute details in order. I expected there to be hiccups and lots that either didn’t get done, or were getting done super late. We haven’t been in the country until now, and most everything has been done via email and intermediaries. Belize runs on its own schedule, which is usually late. But here we were having a pleasant breakfast with everything seemingly in order about to head off for a morning excursion.

Everyone was raving about their rooms and still talking about dinner. But we had little time before we had to be on the road again off on our different adventures. Nick, Alyssa, Roger and Chuck took off for their summit hike just as we left with Oly, Marc, Jose, and Shintaro for Xunantunich with the Schneiders going horseback riding to the same ruins.

I really liked our guide, he was very knowledgeable and had great pacing. I never felt rushed or like we were bored. I’m still feeling under the weather, but a step up from yesterday. It’s hard going sometimes, I feel weak and tired and my nose is running constantly. We started going up to the top of one of the closer buildings in the main plaza before crossing the plaza and going to the top of the main building. The view from the top of the main building is wonderful though, and it’s a great taste of Mayan culture. Our guide describes the meanings of the different glyphs on the side of the main building, now covered by replications made of plaster. The water god, the gods that hold up the world on the back of a giant turtle, and so on. Like with other ruins, most of the excavation has been done by US universities.

Back at the lodge everyone had been having a great time. Chuck had managed to fall in the river, and my parents off of their tubes going over the rapids. We passed word that we needed to have lunch by noon so they could start moving around tables.

Then we showered and started our own preparations. Jenn had a hairdresser to help. I still had to learn to tie a bow tie, which without internet or practice I surprisingly got it tied. I could get it tied nicely or tightly but not both. So I tied it loose but perfect, slipped it over my shirt collar when I was ready, and then tightened it up after the fact. Walking back and forth to the main palapa for internet I saw bits and pieces of what they were doing. They had chairs arranged and an archway with flowers.

I tried to set up music too, but the music I’d brought for the ceremony was in m4a format, not mp3, and their stereo didn’t know how to read it. They ended up playing it on a laptop, but without speakers it was too quiet for me to hear at the alter.

45 minutes from the ceremony I was starting to worry where Jose was, and I needed to keep re-reading my vows. Then he showed up saying he had just finished his speech. I had no reason to worry, the girls ended up being 30 minutes late as it was, I mostly just could use company. My dad also knocked on our door a bit later wearing his tux pants and a tux t-shirt. Chuck wasn’t far behind in matching threads. The room was hot, I was hot, we were all hot. I didn’t want to throw on my jacket until the last minute. Nerves about fucking it up started to set in.

Eventually we got the word from the videographer that they were about ready so we put on our jackets and headed up.

At the top everyone was already seated. Our original plan was to have Alyssa and Jose go up first, then me, then Chuck and Jennifer. Alyssa had to help Jenn with her long train so we quickly changed it so that I was already up there with Jose. The rest is kind of a blur. I remember Steven sweating profusely in his tux standing in the sun. I remember not hearing the “does anyone have a reason these two should not be wed” but something along the lines of a positive will you love and support these two in their times of need which was cute. Then came the time for the vows. I got my first 2 lines I’d written off mostly right, and stumbled a bit on the last but recovered. Jenn suddenly had this look of horror on her face when she realized that the vows were said before the rings were exchanged and she had written hers with the fact that she’d have a ring in her hand. We quickly had to improvise and Jose dug the rings out of his pocket and handed it to Jenn so she could finish. So now with things all out of order once she was done I took her ring and put it on her finger and Steven had to skip a section about what the exchange of rings meant and suddenly it was time to kiss the bride and in a flash it was done. I looked over at our guests and there was not a dry eye in the front row, all the parents were teary eyed.

From there we did some photos with Dominique before Pam became worried about the cake melting in the heat and we had to stop to cut it and serve champagne. The cake was beautiful, Jenn had found a design on pintrest and the cake designer down here made it perfectly. We’d chosen peacock colors to go with and stand out against the green of the jungle. The cake was made with ribbons of purple fondant and edible peacock feathers against a white frosting.

After cutting the cake they popped some champagne and we toasted. Speeches meant for dinner were said with my mother teary eyed and choked up again. It still all was a blur of warm feelings and smiling faces to me.

Then we were off again for more pictures. I’d been given a bit of a heads up that the plans involved horses and a carriage but I had no idea. Down the road a bit we were dropped off by a buggy pulled by a single black gelding named Obama. Yes, Obama was at our wedding. He didn’t like trotting much but had a nice walk and though I think everyone was impatient for us, it was a really nice time. The driver has been into horse racing his entire life, but is now too big to compete, though his younger brother is well suited to it. We turned a corner and came to a grove of teak trees less than halfway to their harvest age. The trees are planted in symmetrical orderly rows and the local rancher has let his horses out into the grove. This just breathes Jennifer, the horses, nature, all of it. It’s perfection. We pose for some shots and the horses being standoffish munch a ways behind in the shadows. They get slowly more comfortable with our presence coming closer and closer. The curiosity gets the best of a few. First one comes to say hi and look for a treat, then another comes to investigate if her veil is food or not. Followed by 3 more with the same question. I really hope the pictures from this turn out. None of this was part of what we’d agreed upon with black rock, in fact we’d only expected the money we’d paid them to be for the extra hassle of hosting a wedding and moving around tables and chairs and what not. This was all a huge surprise!

After some time with the horses Jenn beaming jumped back in the van. And by jumped I mean was helped in and her dress layered on top of her feet. We headed off then to the river back towards Black Rock. Dominique did another set looking from the river up at us with the white stone cliffs above in sunset light. We’ve now spent probably 5 or 10 times as much time doing photos as the actual ceremony which was over in a flash. I can’t stop playing with my wedding band, it’s so foreign.

When we got back to the palapa everyone had changed out of their dressy clothes into more relaxed tropical clothing. I totally understand but was also totally jealous still in my full 3 piece tux.

Finally it was time for dinner. The chairs had all been pulled back and tables put in front of them with a head table and a couple sets of tables arranged around. We had another toast and food came pretty quickly. The chocolate cake was drool worthy. Barefoot Skinny began to play a set of low key relaxing music while we finished our delicious food and drinks. Then it was time for the dancing. First Jenn with her father and me with my mother and switching before our dance. We picked a song from the Lumineers we love but we totally failed at dancing to it with a fast off beat, I was on one and Jenn on the other. Our guests started clapping a single beat and we got things cleaned up.

Now the tables were cleared to the side to make a dance floor and the party began. The highlight of which was Steven singing “Shout”, one of the main songs of Wedding Crashers Jenn’s favorite movie.

The party went on and on, and I could tell everyone was tired and ready for bed except for the dancers. Black Rock ordered us some drinks on the house and that along with us going to bed effectively killed the party. Such a great night.

I’m still days later in shock that things went off so well. It being Belize and us not being there I really expected a high chance of it just being us doing our thing and nothing of the bits we tried to arrange coming together. Not only did Luis deliver in spades everything to such a great level, but Black Rock went far and beyond our expectations with absolutely everything. The details, the food, and especially the horse surprise!

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