The setting for this Big Fat Brazilian Wedding, was Canela in the deep South of Brazil, the land of the gauchos and Bavarian style architecture, a town situated in the green, lush hills of the “Serra Gaucha”. See my earlier post about this little picturesque, Southern town named after a Cinnamon tree.
The bride is my niece Caroline, who like me was born and brought up in this quiet and quaint little town. The groom Benjamin, British, born and brought up in the Isle Of Wight (IOW), just off the coast of Hampshire in the South of England. They were already married in a civil ceremony in the IOW in early May 2014 which I covered in my earlier post, Take 1.
The big day was at the tail end of the Brazilian winter in early September 2014, and we were hoping for good weather. Unfortunately we woke up to grey skies, rain and a drop in the temperature. In Brazil weddings are usually in the evening, with most brides booking the church ceremony between 6 pm and 8 pm. After the church ceremony the wedding party have a meal followed by a disco and dance until the early hours of the morning after. Caroline like most brides started planing her wedding more than a year before the big day, it was at times difficult for her, since she has been living in the UK and the wedding was to take place in another country, therefore it was crucial that her family in Brazil were able to help out. Angelita (Caroline’s aunty) played an important part since she knows so many people in the leisure industry who helped it all come together at the end.
The Big Day – 06 of September 2014
The bride spent the day of the wedding with her mother and sister getting ready, and drinking champagne to steady those last minute nerves at a private salon in Canela.
She had her very own team of hairdressers and make up artist, who even accompanied her to the church for any last minute touch ups. The delights of getting married in a small town where there is an opportunity for a very personal service.
Across town the groom had spent the morning with his family and also my son James, doing some exhilarating white water rafting. I guess it is different for boys, since there is less hair and make up to worry about. But later on in the afternoon Ben went over to the “Grand Hotel”, where his parents and the rest of the British party were getting ready. They were all staying at same hotel where the wedding meal and party was going to take place, after the religious ceremony in the church.
7 pm – By now we were are all gathering inside the church hall, it was raining and so my father managed to drive us right by the church door and we ran inside, while he had to go and park the car, poor thing. The church looked beautiful. Lucia, who is a friend of my sister Angelita, was hired to decorate the church and the wedding venue where Caroline wanted a white and green theme.
In Brazil, the Bride does not have Bridesmaids and the Groom does not have a Best Man, instead there are “Padrinhos” and “Madrinhas”. Usually there are four couples on the Bride’s side and four couples in the Groom’s side, and they stand at the side of the altar and act as witnesses and guardians of the Bride and Groom. We had spent few hours on the previous day learning about when and how to enter the church and where we should be positioned at the altar. Caroline hired a wedding planner ( another friend of my sister Angelita), who together with her assistant was in charge of getting us all coordinated in our respective places.
There was a live singer, singing songs at specific times in the ceremony. I was a little worried about how this arrangement would work, since it is a large church and I wondered what the acoustics would be like. Also the musician could not speak much English, although she had been having English lessons with Angelita for some time, and I knew she was very nervous about singing in English in front of an English speaking audience. Gosh, how wrong I was. Her voice was AMAZING, she sang all the specially chosen and beautiful English songs impeccably and added a very personal touch to the religious ceremony.
7:15 pm – The Groom was the first to walk up the isle to the altar, accompanied by his mother Vanessa. The Groom’s father, David, followed accompanied by the Bride’s mother, Luciana.
The Groom is now nervously wanting by the altar, but before the arrival of the Bride it is the turn of all the “Padrinhos”and “Madrinhas” to walk into the church; four couples on Caroline’s side and four couples on the Groom’s side. We take turns to enter the church, walk up the isle and position ourselves up by the altar. Brian and I were the first pair of “Padrinhos” to start the procession, and the assistant of the wedding co-ordinator sent Brian and I off at the wrong time…Oops, we should have waited a little bit longer for the “Padrinhos” song to start, I think that confused the musician a little bit, but it all worked out OK in the end.
All the “Madrinhas” wore a green dress, in different shades of green and different styles, and the “Padrinhos” all wore green ties. Once we were all in place by the altar we eagerly waited for the arrival of the Bride. Meanwhile the flower girl Kalinka, who is the Bride’s nine year old sister, was busy looking after little Joao Pedro, the ring bearer and the two year old son of Aline and Marcelo. Joao Pedro was getting a little fractious, since he could see his mother up in the altar but he was not allowed to go and be with her. Kalinka was doing a good job of distracting him until finally the Bride arrives, fashionably late of course.
Before the Bride makes her grand entrance, Kalinka and Joao Pedro walk the red carpet carrying the rings and Joao Pedro surprises us all by doing his bit for the big day perfectly, perhaps he could see his mum, Aline, up at the altar and was happy to finally be allowed to walk towards her…
As the Bride arrives and is ready to have her moment, the bell’s in the tower start chiming, a beautiful melody. The twelve bronze bell’s gifted to this church by Caroline’s Great Grandfather, today welcoming her for her very special day. I noticed my father had tears rolling down his cheeks, no doubt feeling very proud of his beautiful grand daughter, the first of his grand children to get married here in our family church. I also had tears in my eyes as I remember twenty six years ago, when Caroline then aged four together with her sister Aline aged six, carried the rings at my wedding to Brian.
My proud brother Joao Remy, looked very nervous and emotional as he stands by her side, ready to give her away.
The Priest welcomes the happy couple and explains that the ceremony will be mostly in English, with a little Portuguese thrown in, since more important than the guests understanding what is going on, is for the Bride and Groom to know and understand what they are saying “I do” to.
After the ceremony we all gathered outside, where luckily the rain had stopped. It is traditional to throw rice at the newly weds in Brazil, but since it was an Anglo-Brazilian wedding we had a mixture of rice and confetti to throw.
Now off to the Grand Hotel for the party. The Groom and Bride had a Vintage car waiting to whisk them away.
Wedding Party at the Grand Hotel
The dinner party took place at a lovely hotel by a lake, the Grand Hotel, just 5 minutes by car from the Church. It was beautifully decorated with a green and white theme, and each table was named after a place in Europe or Brazil that has been part of their life together as a couple. A year earlier they did an inter-railing trip in Europe and visited some of their bucket list cities, therefore some of the tables were named after one of the places they visited. As guests arrived at the dinning room there was a sitting arrangement map at the door. Brian and I were seated with my father and partner, my sister Angelita and her fiancée Juliano and my brother Joao Remy and his wife Janea at the Venice table.
Caroline and Ben decided against a top table and they were seated with Caroline’s brothers Bruno and Mauricio, Caroline’s sister Aline and their respective partners at the table named “Canela”. The Priest popped over for a while to chat with the newly-weds..
The food was delicious and after the meal, only the Groom was allowed to make a speech, in fact in Brazil speeches are not expected. Aline who speaks fluent English was on hand to translate for the Brazilian’s.
A lovely tradition in Brazil is to put money in the Bride’s shoes. Usually one of the Madrinhas, in this case it was my sister Angelita, will take the Bride’s shoe around the room and everyone then makes a contribution towards their honeymoon.
The DJ, a friend of Angelita, had the difficult task of choosing songs that would appeal to the different cultures and also the different generations.
Canela has again been the setting of an International wedding, and our family church once again the perfect venue to bring together our families in celebrating such a special occasion.
Bride and Groom left Canela 2 days later, bound for the North East of Brazil where they spent many happy days enjoying their honeymoon in the warm sunshine and beautiful beaches of Recife and Porto de Galinhas.
Many of the pictures in this post were taken by the photographers of Zimmermann Photo Studio, which were hired by Caroline to document this very special day.