The Offbeat Bride: Isabel, volunteer (and Tribesmaid)
Her offbeat partner: Samuel, full-time student, part-time agriculture worker
Date and location of wedding: Restaurante El Globo, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua — July 26, 2014
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Samuel is Nicaraguan and I am American, but my family is Cuban and Bolivian, so we had a lot of different cultures and traditions to keep in mind. Throughout the wedding, we tried to share our love story. A large part of that included bikes. Samuel had to teach me how to ride a bike and this brought us closer together. We incorporated bikes into our invitations, small details, and especially in our cake room.
Learning to ride a bike was when I realized just how special Samuel is. Many people had given up teaching me and I had already given up myself so many times, but he never gave up on me and he didn’t let me give up on myself.
Tell us about the ceremony:
There were some special things that made it uniquely us. I walked down the aisle to a song called “Boliviana” by Ibrahim Ferrer. The song was perfect. It is a Cuban singer talking about how he wants to marry this Bolivian woman on the beach and how he even considers her to be Cuban. I felt like the song was made for us since my father is from Bolivia and my mother was from Cuba and there we were getting married on the beach. It was a perfect moment.
Samuel walked down with his mother and I walked down with my father. My father said a prayer for us since we are both Christians, and my friend read a special poem, “Desejos” by Carlos Drummond de Andrade. I studied for a year in Brazil and one of my majors was Portuguese, so it meant a lot to me. I also loved that it was read by one of my closest friends who studied with me in Brazil. My mami was also definitely the highlight of the ceremony with an exchange of treasure boxes, but more on that later.
Our biggest challenge:
My biggest challenge was having the wedding outside of the United States. I had help from Samuel and one friend, but for the most part I was left doing things alone that I normally would have done with my mother or friends. I found that the best way to plan was to talk to locals. Nicaragua is not like the USA. In the USA, we can go to one store and find everything we need for the most part. In Nicaragua, there is a different vendor for EVERYTHING. While there are some package deal weddings we could have done at fancy hotels, that is just not who we are. I work in a small town and my husband is from an even smaller town and we aren’t really fancy.
I went to the beach that was the easiest to get to from our towns and just started talking to people. I knew I wanted to get married on the beach, so I started looking at restaurants on the beach. From there, I would meet someone that knew a good decorator and then that person would know a guy who made piñatas and then that guy would know someone that had a small bus for transporting people from our towns. Everything was done by talking to people, and it was great getting to know so many new people and form new friendships.
My favorite moment:
When I think about my wedding, the first thing I think about is my mother. My mami had been battling cancer for five years and she unfortunately passed away five days after the wedding. My favorite part of our wedding, and something that I know will become a wedding tradition for my family, was an exchange of treasure boxes. My mami said she wanted to give my husband a treasure box full of all the ways I am a treasure to her and also have his mom do the same. I was completely fine and tear-free during the ceremony, but the second I saw my mom and she started speaking, I lost it. She was always thinking of ways to make me feel loved and now I will always have this memory and the sweet words she left for Samuel.
My funniest moment:
We have a lot of group dances in the USA like “The Cupid Shuffle.” I had never thought about the fact that those dances are uniquely American. I think the funniest moment at the wedding for me was watching our guests who were not American react to these dances, and then also watching them join in. I went to The Ohio State University, so it was also necessary to play “Hang on Sloopy” and watching my father trying to do the O-H-I-O with his hands just had me cracking up. He was the most adorable person at my wedding.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
When you have a wedding in another country and also make it very unique, you really need to do research at the location. We went places that never would have occurred to us, including this little house in the middle of nowhere where they hand-carved maracas for us with our names and the date of the wedding on them. We discovered parts of the country that we would not have otherwise, and were able to support locals instead of a huge hotel.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photo and video: Marbelly Gonzále, Nica Films Producciones
- Food and venue: Doña PatriciaRestaurante El Globo
- Decorator: Detalles Decoracion
- Cake: Pan de Vida
- Dress: David’s Bridal
- Invitations and cake topper maker: Patricia Moreno, The Pixelette