In a few days, I’ll be saying “I do”.
Carlos proposed on January 13th: he picked me up at 7:30pm and said “I have reservation at a cute little place in El Hatillo, but the owner just called me to say se nos fue la luz.” We ended up going to the restaurant en el que nos empatamos and where we celebrated our first anniversary.
He went to the bathroom and came back with the ring on his pinky. He sat down and simply stared at me… and after 3 minutes that seemed like forever, I finally saw the ring. My first response was: “Tas seguro?” and he said “Pues claro”.
Technically, I think we both proposed to each other. I didn’t cry, but I couldn’t stop smiling.
We spent the next day giving the good news to our friends and family. But on January 15th the real wedding marathon began. And trust me, It’s a marathon like no other.
Forget about setting a date, the first thing you have to do its buy the booze. You can have either the simplest or most extravagant of weddings, but it wouldn’t be complete without el whisky y los tequeños. Even more so, you may choose to have only whisky y tequeños and it would be the quintessential caraqueño wedding.
And while we were on the quest for the booze, we set the date. It was a bit more complicated than the traditional “spring, summer, fall or winter wedding” dilemma. Truth be told, we are a tropical paradise so we can only choose between rain or no rain. Setting the date was more about how soon we could organize the party and get the family in one place, while racing against the ever growing inflation.
We organized the ceremony and party in 5 months. Most of our friends asked “¿Tan rápido?”, but a couple of friends that recently got hitched said it was the best decision we could ever make.
We set the date for the feriado del 24 de junio -yes, folks, this coming weekend. No one would have to get the day off at their jobs, and most importantly we could have a daytime wedding. We didn’t want our friends and family to be driving around Caracas late at night, so a daytime wedding seemed like the best option.
Thankfully, we were able to book the church and a venue with little to no problem. The catering and other services would be a whole other story.
The first thing most suppliers said was that even if you pay upfront, vendrían ajustes… One must be prepared to receive multiple surprise charges on the 20 days prior to the wedding. Yes… that’s right… even if you pay it all with a month to spare, your checkbook can’t sit back and relax.
My wedding dress was made by a local seamstress. This way I could have a tailor made dress at a relatively low price. The only problem: I kept on getting sick over the last two months -stress-related- and they had to fix my dress a couple of times. Some crazy friends even said: “ojalá me de lo que tienes para perder unos kilos” -hoping to get my bug so they, too, could lose weight.
Then came the planning of the honeymoon. We decided to go local, but not a single posada in the country could give us a budget until the last 4 weeks before the wedding. We didn’t have to worry about the close to non-existing Cadivi travel allowance, but the ever present inflation was -once again- a key factor.
I must say: Instagram (IG) became my best friend over the last 5 months. I found the venue and the posadas for the honeymoon on IG. I was also able to compare photographers, get ideas for hair and makeup and I even found a special offer for booze. IG has, at least for me, become the ultimate window shopping experience… and for an anti-bridezilla with little time to organize the whole shebang, it was a an incredibly helpful tool. Best of all: you can get special prizes payable in bolívares.
Probably the most emotionally complicated part of organizing the wedding was the not knowing if certain friends and family would be able to make it. Before we even had our invitations made, we sent a “Save The Date” via WhatsApp, hoping that they would be able to come. However, we know is not a simple decision.
Some friends won’t come because they have to work, some because it’s an expensive ticket and others because of security concerns.
My sister lives in Australia and she hadn’t visited Venezuela since September 2014, so it was a huge deal if she could come. Her husband couldn’t make it, but she arrived in Caracas the week before the wedding.
It was pretty funny how my sister reacted the first day back in Caracas. When we were driving from Maiquetía to Caracas, she said “todo se ve bastante normal”. But then came the: “esas colas dan dolor”, “no sabía que el primer tobazo de agua estaría tan frío… ¿cuándo es que vuelve el agua?” and “no puedo creer que hayan vallas de ventas de apartamentos en Miami en la autopista”.
In spite of five months of craziness, I have to admit that Carlos and I are some of the lucky few that can celebrate our marriage with family and friends. We even want to start a family right away -though we are not yet sure how we are going to deal with the scarcity of diapers and baby formula.
Many can’t even afford to date anymore. Carlos has heard his college students don’t date anymore like we used to do -you know, a movie, a pizza- because they can’t be asking their parents for money to go out.
Others can’t afford a wedding. In this case, it’s quite encouraging that Alcaldía de Sucre has organized collective weddings for three consecutive years. This year, an impressive 85 couples took the plunge.
But there is one thing that is even more troubling: most can’t afford to start a life together, let alone a family.
Planning a wedding is a fun but really stressful experience, more so in crazy Venezuela. But I know the hard work begins right away, because what worries me is the effect this crisis will have on my future family.