Most of the ceremonies in which I am involved are in the Northern part of Spain’s Costa Blanca (Marina Alta) but I have travelled by motorway to Valencia to officiate in a commitment ceremony for a Security Adviser from Iraq and his girlfriend from Houston, Tx. On another occasion for a couple of New York Police Officers, and it is not unusual to have couples, their family and friends fly in for me to provide a service that meets their requirements. I must admit to feeling surprised when a couple from the Jewish faith wanted me to not only make their wedding day memorable for them, but for me as well, as I needed to ensure I did not refer to Jesus.
Recently I had two weddings in three days so decided not to return to Jávea after the first wedding at Finestrat (a charming and unspoiled venue just inland from Benidorm) at The Mountain Retreat venue I had come across a couple of years earlier at a Benidorm Wedding Fayre. The couple and their guests seemed unconcerned by the heat and humidity, but I turned down their invitation to stay for something to eat and drink (after the ceremony and signing of the documents) and we slipped quietly away in the comfort of my air-conditioned Fiat on the 2 hour (200 Kilometre) trip South to Totana in the Province of Murcia.
The Hotel Ann had chosen (with the widest bed I can remember seeing), was the Executive Sport, situated on the edge of an industrial zone, with adjacent access to the Motorway. They were preparing for a wedding on the Saturday, as was a Salon de Comuniones less than 80 metres away, next to which there was a bowling alley. We decided – as always, when we have time – to go and find the Monasteria de la Santa Eulalia – but were unprepared fir the shock we received. We knew all the 145 rooms were booked, but hadn’t been prepared for the beauty and location.The Verger invited us to view the Chapel, an enormous place, heavily gold encrusted, and allowed us to see private areas, including the room where the dresses were hanging for the following days four wedding ceremonies. The wedding I was taking could not be inside the Chapel, like the other three taking place on the Saturday, but would be in the grounds, on a plaza area, as the couple were not Roman Catholics.
It wasn’t until earlier in the week that I’d been told the ceremony was booked for 7.30pm, after which I still had to face the motorway journey back to Javea. I’d officiated at another wedding in Santa Eulalia on Ibiza, so I was prompted to discover some history of Santa Eulalia, apparently one of the best known of the Roman Catholic Saints. Portuguese by birth, she had accepted Jesus – the Son of God – as her own personal Saviour, and failed to keep quiet about it. She was only 13 years of age when it was demanded of her that she renounce faith in Jesus and return to the Roman Catholic Church, but she refused, earning herself all manner of torture, including having her hair set alight, resulting in her dying of smoke inhalation. It is claimed God sent a white dove to carry her soul to eternity. How could such a beautiful and idyllic setting hide such wickedness?
But back to my couple and their ‘Plaza wedding’. The principal men (Groom, Best Man and Ushers) all wore vivid blue suits and red ties. The Bride arrived on the arm of her father – who had a speaking part when I asked him who brought his daughter to share the rest of her days with her new husband, and responded “I do” – and went back to his reserved seat.
The ceremony – as always – went according to plan, documents were signed and witnessed – then stamped with my official seal – and the Bridal party exited and stood on the left of the wide staircase to the lower plaza and church, to form a reception line and receive the envelopes and congratulations of their guests. There had been a musical background from the other three weddings – all in different stages of celebration – throughout our ceremony, but as guests arrived at the bottom of the stairs, there was the unmistakable sound of a Mariachi group, and I wondered if it had been booked by ‘my couple’ or by one of the others. There were two options: one to moan that their day had been spoiled, and the other was to go with the flow and enjoy a united evening involving 4 brides and hundreds of guests.
With a long drive home, we left by the side entrance. For lunch we had stopped at a roadside café where I had the most delicious solomillo steak I´d ever tasted. As we drove home – guess what – their carpark was full of cars and they were hosting another wedding reception. That was 7 we’d seen in 24 hours.