Our wedding in Antigua Guatemala began as we rushed back to the hotel to be greeted by Anita’s mother Maria. Maria collects original Guatemalan clothes, artefacts and knowledge, she just loves everything Maya, she even named one of her daughters Maya! We can definitely understand it as the more we learn the more we love the culture. She had gladly agreed to dress us in traditional Guatemalan Maya clothes for the ceremony…and thank goodness as she had had the clothes delivered to the room and we had NO idea of how to put them on!Maria was so lovely, she was so excited and as she dressed us she told us a little about the items we were wearing. The top I wore was handmade in the traditional way. The black thread is put onto a pole and the coloured threads woven around the black to add the pattern and colour. The weave was beautiful and intricate and must take days and days of work. The skirt I was being wrapped in was like a huge heavy blanket. It was wound around me again and again and twisted around to place the embroidered edge in the right place. Maria told me as she wound a beautifully coloured belt around my waist that the embroidered edge represented whether the wearer was single, married or had inherited the skirt, the thinner the stip, the less available the lady! With Maria’s assistant at one end of the belt and Maria the other they pulled tighter and tighter and then turned over the top of the skirt. Maria told me to lift my arms as high as I could but it was all so tight I was swaddled! She helped me loosen the top so I was wearing it right and then told me to try to lift the skirt incase I needed to use the bathroom…God forbid. I just said I would hold it!
Alex was next and he was fastened into a similarly weaved waistcoat and a belt like a cummerbund was wound tightly around his waist. He was topped off with a bow-tie, a very stiff hat (which back in the day was used in fighting) and then he was handed his handbag! Maria had an original shoulder bag that the men would carry, it was like two pouches held together in the middle with a strip of material which sat on his shoulder. Maria explained it was so that when he came from the market he could carry everything…I need to get us one of those! She snipped the bottoms off some lillies and stood them in his bag and told us we were ready to go. Alex looked so handsome and I was so proud to be next to him as we walked up the spiral stairs to the terrace where all of our guests were waiting. Anita had invited some friends too so it was so lovely to see everyone there! The Xaman was ready and waiting for us as was Anita’s beautiful daughter Giuliana and before we lost too much light the ceremony began.
The Xaman Tijul, explained that he would perform the ceremony in Mayan and then translate it into Spanish so that Anita could translate for us. It was the long way around but we didn’t want to loose the meaning of the ceremony by asking him to do it in Spanish.
“The Mayan Wedding Ritual is based in the Maya’s connection with the universe and their gods, which is described in their sacred book the Popol Vuh, the ceremony brings the couple to the four cardinal points (north, south, east and west) to unite them to the feminine Mother Earth and the masculine Cosmic Energy, symbolized by a central sacred candle.”
Tujil had arranged a small fire pit with cigars facing the four Cardinal points as offerings to the Gods, there was a large candle in the centre of the ring and lots of thin coloured handmade candles created a circle around the offerings. Rose petals were scattered around the fire and their scent filled the air. Tujil explained that as well as offering the cigars he would also offer alcohol and flowers. As he started the ceremony his voice became almost like a hypnotising chant, he blessed the cardinal points, us and our guests and the offerings in front of us as he lit the central candle. As the fire spread his chant became louder and he splashed alcohol around the flames. Before too long the fire filled the pit and the candles and cigars had transformed into a bubbling sea of wax and was creating a wonderful scent in the air. Tujil had laid out a row of thin candles in 9 different colours, he told us that each colour represented an important factor in our lives, from love and health to work and economy.
He asked us to choose candles relating to the areas in our lives that we felt we needed support or that we would like to wish for. I made Alex choose green to rid him of his finger biting habit and we chose several other colours too. Tujil invited our guests to do the same which was really touching. Everyone came forward and chose their own wishes and Tujil started the next part of the ceremony. He chanted the prayers to the skies and in time asked us to add our candles to the flame whilst praying for our wishes to be granted. Our guests were invited to do the same and to keep in mind their wishes too.
He told us he could tell from the flame that we would be happy and that the Gods were happy with our union as the flame filled the pit and it is a good sign. He explained that if the flame dies it is a bad sign. We sighed with relief and continued the ceremony, Tijul must have decided that we didn’t ask for enough with our candles as he proceeded to make wishes for us in all of the colours and burnt all of the candles that were left. It was such a moving ceremony, we felt truly blessed and genuinely touched by Tujils words.He asked us to kneel as he blessed our union and the heat from the fire warmed our faces, as we stood he threw rose petals over us and into the fire to finish the ceremony, they smelled heavenly and it was a really surreal moment, it was like time stood still.We were stood surrounded by the beauty of Antigua’s 3 volcanoes as the clouds cleared and the sun turned the sky purple with a group of new friends. Petals danced around us and flames warmed our bodies as Tujils chants and prayers touched our souls.
We are so lucky to have experienced this truly unique wedding in Antigua Guatemala and to have met the people that made it all possible.
After the ceremony we said goodbye and thanked Tujil, Jose, Maria and Mariano for a fantastic day, they must have been worn out because we were and we had just stood there all day!! The pictures as Im sure you will agree are stunning. Antigua is such a beautiful city, Jose a fabulous photographer and we loved his idea to capture the romance of the city in his images, which he did without a doubt!
We continued our celebration in true Guatemalan style with traditional tacos and a bottle of their spectacular rum…but that’s a whole new story…which you can read here!
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