Last weekend I attended not one but two Panamanian weddings. The two weddings could not have been more different from each other. The first wedding which took place on Friday night, and took place here in the city, and the second wedding was traditional or típico wedding held in the interior, a little town about 4 hours away called Guararé. I had never been to a wedding in Panama so I was not quite sure what to expect but I was definitely curious. As it turns out it was nothing like I had expected and nothing like what I have experienced previously in the states.
I knew the young couple getting married in the city on Friday night, as well as almost everyone in the wedding party, so I was comfortable. Most people here don’t even go to the actual ceremony but rather the reception afterwards to eat, drink and dance, now that makes sense! During the ceremony the doors to the church remain open, people come and go as they please and if you want to get up and get a nice picture of the bride and groom, go right ahead! Even if it means walking up the steps of the alter and standing next to the priest. In fact this is what caught my attention the most since I wasn’t not used to the idea. They had a professional photographer and videographer but Panamanians like to take their own pictures, even during a wedding. At some point during the ceremony I imagine there were 10-12 (maybe more) people standing around snapping photos, one flash of light after another, it was very paparazzi. I felt a little out of place at times since this was a Catholic church and wedding and well, I’m not Catholic. I didn’t know what to say or sing or when to stand or kneel and pray. One thing I did enjoy at both weddings was the music, I wish I would have sat closer and had taken some video for you all to see. They had nuns singing and playing different instruments, they were amazing and the music was very spiritual, I was moved. The reception was in a downtown hotel overlooking the bay, it was truly beautiful. In fact it doesn’t have to be a wedding, anytime family and friends come together for a celebration, it’s a beautiful thing. Everyone danced and drank until early morning, I even danced a little, if what I was doing can even be called dancing. Damnit if I am going to live in this country I have to learn to dance! So after a long night of rum drinking and celebrating, what better thing to do then get up the next morning, drive 4 hours and do it all over again!?
We arrived in this small town and checked in to the only hotel around 4 pm. I’m not exactly sure of the population in this town, I have visited this area multiple times in the past but never this exact town of Guararé. Again the ceremony was not so formal and uptight as they are in the states, in fact we were the first ones to arrive at the church and I thought we were about 30 minutes late! The bride arrived at the church in a carriage covered in roses and a single horse and driver. I always enjoy visiting the churches around Panama and taking pictures of them. Again the music played during the ceremony was amazing. Afterwards we went to the reception which was held in a jardin, which is basically an open air bar\party area. The place was wonderfully decorated and what made this wedding típico was the music, the dancing, the dresses and clothes. They had a few different bands and singers playing and singing típico music and murga. Now I know most of you have no idea what that means but it might interest you enough to look it up. Murga is often played during Carnaval celebrations, if you can imagine countless brass horns sounding off with a few bass and snare drums rocking the beat then you might get an idea of murga. I personally love it, and if you have ever celebrated Carnaval, chances are you have heard it too. If you haven’t, then I highly recommend it.