17 March 2007
The day of the wedding had finally arrived. The reason so many of us were in Brazil would take place at 4pm, and all of us were excited.
At breakfast, I learnt that Jason had finally arrived in Brazil (after all the hassles with his visa) and after checking into the hotel at some ungodly hour, headed straight to the bars to join the others on the previous night. David and Viri were still frantically checking with their airline to try and find out where their bags were (one phone call yielded “Madrid” and another phone call yielded “en route to São Paulo”). David was a groomsman and desperately needed his suit for the wedding, and while Viri kept a calm and collected front, I knew she was hoping against all odds that their bags would miraculously arrive in time for them to change into the clothes they had specially packed for this occasion.
Between the group, we came up with some alternative solutions for David and Viri should the bags not arrive: Alex loaned David a suit, along with a shirt, tie and cufflinks (and I might add Alex may have even supplied the shoes and socks), and Viri was inundated with offers of dresses from both myself and Heather (we both brought spares!) – in the end, Viri went with Heather’s dress and my shoes for the evening. The Wongs were not the only ones “dressed by others” – the groom ended up borrowing cufflinks and the best man a shirt to complete their outfits.
Gauri disappeared early on to attend to her bridesmaid duties, while Viri and I decided to take a refreshing dip in the pool. The rain from the night before had cooled down the entire island, and while the skies were still overcast, we hoped the rain would hold off for the rest of the day. After the dip, we were told the nail artist and the hair stylists had arrived at the resort and if we were interested in getting our nails and hair done for the wedding, they were at our disposal. Viri and I took advantage of the nail artist, and later, I was pushed into a chair and had my hair done as well.
I was called up to the Bridal Suite just after lunch and spent the afternoon watching Julie get ready. Her beautiful gold dress was laid out on the bed, ready and waiting for Julie. The Bridal Suite was soon filled with bodies everywhere – nail artist, hair stylists, Julie’s family members including mother Patricia, aunt Diana, sister Sally and her three kids and laughter and excitement filled the air.
Before we knew it, the clock struck 3pm and Gauri and I bounded back to our room to change into our wedding outfits. We passed Ant on the way and he was looking a little nervous in his gold silk suit. After a large number of reassuring pats on the back, Ant went on his way to the venue to wait for his bride. A flurry of activities ensued in our room – I tried to help Gauri as much I as I could by either actually helping or staying out of her way. Gauri’s dress was a gorgeous milk chocolate colour and she looked terrific. Once everything was pinned, zipped and packed into our handbags, we headed out the door to wait for our ride to the venue. By this time, the skies had opened again, it didn’t look like it was going to stop.
After a false start (which saw Gauri running back to our room to retrieve the telegrams), we squeezed into a tiny taxi and headed to the venue. By the time we arrived, all the wedding guests were in the next bar having a few cooling drinks. Even with the rain, the thick air was warm and humid and it was almost stifling. The boys all looked splendid in their suits and ties, while the girls looked gorgeous in their dresses. The groom was sweating up a storm and paced impatiently waiting for his bride.
4pm came and went, and the party was waiting to get started. The original plan of Julie arriving at the pier by boat was well and truly laid to rest with the heavy rain, and she was due to arrive by taxi and enter through the front entrance. We all craned our necks in anticipation of the big moment, but with no bride, we went back to chatting amongst ourselves.
5pm came and went, and the party was still waiting to get started. Ant was wilting under the heat by now, and he continued to pace. The wedding guests were still chatting amongst ourselves, with the occasional neck craning to ensure we didn’t miss the big moment, but still, no bride.
Finally, at 5.30pm, the bride made her belated entrance, and it was well and truly worth the wait. Julie looked stunning in her gold dress, and she beamed as she walked towards Ant, who looked completely overcome by his feelings for Julie. The ceremony itself was short and sweet, so much so it left most of the guests gasping for breath at the speed with which it was conducted. Ten minutes after arriving at the altar, the celebrant was pronouncing Ant and Julie as husband and wife. And the party began.
The wines and the caipirinhas flowed freely. The food was delicious and plentiful. Before long, it was time for the speeches (mostly in English with Brazilian translation for the local guests), which were very funny, heartfelt and sentimental. More food was served, and the guests mixed and mingled easily.
The bridal waltz was the next highlight of the evening, and we all moved out to the deck where the wedding ceremony had earlier taken place and watched the newlyweds dance their first dance as Mr and Mrs Williams. The guests were soon asked to join the happy couple, and even I took to the floor with some of the lovely boys – first with Will and later with Sandor.
Most of the guests stayed on the dance floor and continued to work up a sweat. Thati, Marco and Marco’s very cute brother (whose name I couldn’t pronounce!) danced with me for quite some time and my previously meticulous coif was soon pinned up into a more manageable bun. As I headed to the bathroom to wash my sweaty face for the umpteenth time, I walked in on the surprise act for the evening – traditional Brazilian dancers who were getting dressed for their big show.
Soon enough, the three gorgeous girls came out to the fanfare of a full Brazilian band and showed the guests how to dance the Brazilian way. Led by the bride and groom through the crowd, the guests soon joined in the fun and festivities. The photos speak for themselves!
The dancing continued into the night, with most of the London/Sydney contingent still jumping around with boundless energy well into the early hours of the morning. Most of the local guests had left by midnight, and with the music still going strong, we jived on until around 3.30am, when the venue staff finally called a halt to the proceedings. I noticed that for the first time since 3pm, the rain had finally abated.
After rounding up a few stray items and bags, a few of us set off for the hotel on foot while the bride and groom waited for a ride. Adrian and I shared a slow walk back to the hotel from the venue, and for the first time on this trip, we had a good heart to heart chat. Ever the gentleman, Adrian walked me to my room and bade me a good night before retreating to his room. Gauri was already back after getting a lift, and minutes after arriving, Heather knocked on our door to suggest a nightcap by the pool. Into our bathers we got for the last cooling dip of my trip.
Gauri and I finally climbed into our respective beds at around 5am. With barely any time to sleep before breakfast, it felt like a matter of minutes between shutting my eyes and opening them again to read “9.30am” on the clock.
A surprise was awaiting my attention as I tried to get out of my bed and walk to the bathroom. Some time during the wedding reception, I had sustained an injury to my left ankle and in the sober light of day, the swelling on the ankle was quite evident. My flight home just got very interesting.