People are always surprised when I tell them I’d been married twice by the age of 26. I got married to my husband Rolando in the UK when I was 25 and we got married again a year later in Ecuador. We are celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary today so I thought I’d share the story of our two weddings.
Our UK wedding
Rolando is from Ecuador in South America – we met there and fell in love when I was working there as an English teacher.
Our wedding planning was influenced by the not so romantic Home Office. We needed to book our wedding before we could apply for a VISA. We called our chosen registry office in the UK from Ecuador and book our wedding. There was no deliberating about what would be the perfect date we just went for whatever was available and had a confirmation faxed over to Ecuador. Rolando was given permission to enter the UK but only on the condition that we get married within 12 weeks.
Rolando came to the UK in February. It was the first time he’d travelled outside of Ecuador (apart from a weekend trip to Columbia). He came from 35degree Ecuador to British sleet, with no coat! I remember the shock on his face when he went outside for the first time and the cold hit him.
Everything about sorting out our wedding was a complete rush. There was no loving curated Pinterest boards for us! I was working full time so I used to leave Rolando lists of wedding bits and pieces to sort out during the day. We had to keep things really simple due to the lack of time and because we didn’t have a lot of money to spend.
I bought a wedding dress from Monsoon and we rented Rolando’s suit from Debenhams. I got my flowers from the local market (and kept them in a bucket in the shower to keep them fresh). On the morning of the big day I took the bus into town to get my hair and makeup done. My friend’s Dad took our wedding photos, he wanted to start a business doing professional photography so we were his first wedding.
My Mum and Dad stayed in a B&B near the registry office so I got ready in their room. We sent my Dad out for snacks because we were a bit hungry he came back with sausage rolls, very classy! My Dad has a beautiful classic Rover which we used as our wedding car to drive to the registry office.
It was not possible for any of Rolando’s family or friends to travel to the UK for our wedding. Rolando had a best lady rather than a best man – a very good Dutch friend of ours called Marlies who we’d both worked with in Ecuador. It was the first time that Rolando had met a lot of my relatives and I could tell he was quite nervous.
I walked down the aisle of the registry office with my Dad to Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra. That song still gives me goose bumps. It was amazing to see all my friends and family there to celebrate with us. The registrar added a comedy note to the service by struggling to pronounce Rolando’s name.
We walked out to Are You Ready for Love by Elton John. We had some photos outside but then it started to chuck it down so we ran to the nearest pub to get out of the rain. We fitted in photos between showers so in the pictures it looks like a really nice sunny day. Between the service and the reception we went for a meal with my immediate family and Marlies and then popped home to have cups of tea and to call Rolando’s family.
We had our wedding reception at a local hotel – a buffet and a really cheesy disco! We’d made a CD of Spanish songs for the DJ to mix in with his regular tunes. We danced salsa for our first dance, we’d earlier had a five minute practice in our living room. I kicked off my shoes half way through. Marlies made us all cry when during her speech she presented us with a framed photo of Rolando’s family – so in a little way they got to be at our party. We went home to our little bungalow in my friend’s Volvo.
We went on honeymoon to London the next day. It is only 45 minutes train journey away but it was fun to be really touristy and introduce Rolando to all the sights of the capital.
Our wedding in Ecuador
We decided to have a second wedding in Ecuador on our first anniversary to make up for Rolando’s family and friends not having been at our first wedding. It was so different from our UK wedding except for the crazy rush to get everything organised! We flew to Ecuador and then had a really hectic week getting everything ready.
We had our hen and stag nights the night before our wedding so on the morning of our wedding day we were both a bit hung over. Luckily we weren’t getting married until the evening so we had time to recover.
I went to a local salon to get my hair and makeup done – this was hilarious. It took all of my Spanish vocabulary to explain that I wanted natural looking makeup rather than the drag queen look that they were going for! The Ecuadorian beautician exclaimed “You are so pale I can see your veins”.
I got ready with Rolando’s sister in the apartment that we were renting. I had brought the same wedding dress to wear (having made sure that it still fitted and getting it cleaned). I was a bit horrified to realise that I’d obviously put on a bit of holiday weight in the preceding days and couldn’t get my wedding dress to fasten. It took two of us to wedge the zip on my dress closed.
A good friend of us drove me to the church – we were a little bit too early so we drive around the block listening to Corrine Bailey Ray. We had Rolando’s sister and his little niece and nephew as brides maids and a page boy. I felt honoured to walk down the aisle with Rolando’s Dad.
Our wedding was part of a normal church service in a huge beautiful church near Rolando’s parents house – there was about 800 people there! We hadn’t had any kind of rehearsal so there was a funny sense of not quite knowing what was going to happen next. I was very nervous to say my vows in Spanish in front of so many people. I’d been practicing so that I knew what I needed to say. There was a really funny folk type band playing the music which totally gave me the giggles.
After the service it felt like hundreds of people came to congratulate us. We were very hungry so went to a drive through pizza place and had a sneaky takeaway before we headed to the party.
We went all out to hold a really crazy party for all our friends and Rolando’s massive extended family. We gave out bottles of whisky to the guests at the reception. We hired a cook to make big plates of chicken and rice for everyone. As a little surprise we hired a mariachi band to come and play party way through the evening. They got me and Rolando up to perform with them too. We also randomly decided to have a pinata too. There was lots of dancing salsa and everyone got very drunk.
For a honeymoon we took a trip along the pacific coast of Ecuador, visiting lots of beautiful beaches along the route and feeling very loved up and relaxed.
They were completely different but both of our weddings were very special. I keep telling Rolando that I’d like our third wedding to be in Las Vegas!