Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Theme: A Tucson - Paraguay Wedding

Photo courtesy of PurpleFlor Photography.

Tucson has truly become our home. We appreciate its border culture, Mexican influence and sharing it with everyone who visits us. We want to incorporate that specific Tucson flavor by showcasing the landscape; using papel picado and paper flowers in the decor; and featuring a local mariachi band. The decor of the Saddlebrooke Clubhouse, (where we will be having the reception) is traditional southwest with the necessary dose of cowboy.

My dress, accessories and the wedding favors on the other hand, have all been hand-crafted in the folk art tradition of Paraguay.

The Location for the Ceremony

“The church and the home are the two most sacred places in our lives,” I read in a book on weddings. The Jewish wedding ceremony uses a huppah (canopy) that is symbolic of the couple’s new home. That's part of the reason why we chose the home of Kate and Ray Frank for our wedding ceremony. It is a home, and one that is already so meaningful to us. Kate and Ray are our Tucson mom and dad. (The day I met Kate - in Milwaukee, weird!- she gave me a copy of Clarissa Pinkola Estes's Women who Run with Wolves right off her bookshelf. How cool is that???) Their home is also symbolic of our life together, since when Andrew and I moved to Tucson, after having dated long distance between Milwaukee and Chicago, the first place we stayed was at Kate and Ray’s. In fact, Kate and Ray encouraged us to get married from the first time they met me, I think!

When Andrew agreed to move to Tucson with me so I could go to grad school, I understood the magnitude of his risk and sacrifice. The gesture and commitment that he made to show me his love in fact only furthered the idea that he would make a good husband! (And he’s handy, too.)

We also chose Kate and Ray’s because of its position in the foothills. Andrew and I being flatlanders, the Tucson foothills really move us. To me, being in and around those peaks is the most spiritual experience. When I hike in those heights to pray and meditate, I hear the wind blowing and my heart beating, the sun glowing in the rocky faces and the huge, blue, Arizona sky. I feel the near and magnificent presence of God.

This is a photo of the view from Kate and Ray's at dusk.

The Jewelry

I decided to keep with the folk art that honors my Paraguayan heritage in the jewelry as well as the dress. My dear friend Belen and I hopped a bus to Luque, where they have traditionally hand-worked silver filigree for generations. She helped me find the necklace and earrings I purchased for the big day. The intricate design goes well with the elaborate patterns of the dress and the ring.

The Dress

Funnily enough, before I did any other planning for the wedding I got the dress. I went to Paraguay to study Guarani last year and decided it was the perfect time to take advantage of the high quality, inexpensive hand tailoring Asunción has to offer. I asked around and everyone told me the same thing: if you want to have a special wedding dress made just for you, go to Cecilia Fadul.

Cecilia is possibly Paraguay's most popular designer. She specializes in folk chic - which was exactly what I had in mind. I took her my ideas and she really made them come to life beyond anything I could have possibly expected. It's totally me! She and her seamstresses crafted the dress in under a month and for WELL under the price a bride would buy a designer dress in the United States. They incorporated the ñandutí details perfectly, which you can see a little blurry bit of in this picture, but no more sneak peeks for you!

The Ring

Of course, every proposal involves a ring. The ring Andrew gave to me has a very special history. It belonged to his great aunt. She was from a well-to-do family that lived in a rural area, and her father didn't want her dating any of the local boys who he considered unworthy of his refined child. To keep her and her sister from feeling like they were "missing out", he showered them with special gifts, including a diamond ring for each of them. (Andrew's brother, Chris, used the other one to propose to his wife, Jen.) I think it is interesting that neither of Andrew's great aunts ever married, but both of their rings are now wedding rings.

This image really doesn't do the ring justice. It is an eighteen karat, white gold ring of hand construction; fauna design. It contains an Old European Cut diamond and is of highly desirable clarity and color. We actually didn't know any of this until we went to have it appraised. It was like going to Antiques Road Show - very fun! It turns out that Old European Cut was hand-faceted and is no longer done. Its method has been replaced by later technology and now is usually seen only in rings from the 1870s through the 1930s. I really had my reservations about diamond rings in general - I've seen brides-to-be trying to outdo each other with the biggest rock - but when Andrew pulled this ring out of his pocket I knew it was perfect for me.

The Proposal

So where do we begin? We could start back on the day that Andrew and I first met, or when we started dating a few years later or even when we decided to move to Tucson together, but to keep it simple, I think this blog should begin with The Proposal. Truth be told, we talked about getting married before The Proposal, so the question wasn't a surprise, but the method sure was! A helicopter ride over Tucson and the surrounding area was totally unexpected and a thrill for both of us.