Eu Aceito: The Brazilian Nuptials

The week after the Ohio wedding came a second wedding for the couple in Brazil.  Since D is from Brazil, there was a blessing/ceremony of the marriage for her family members that couldn’t make the trip to the US.

Eight of us, not including the bride and groom, made it to the Brazil ceremony.   Beyond a few Greek weddings, this is the first multi-cultural wedding I have attended, so I thought I would share a few customs we noticed:

1 – Contrary to the USA where people are supposed to arrive a half hour prior to the wedding time to be seated, in Brazil, it is completely normal for the bride to be late.  Guests arrive late in anticipation of it, typically a half hour.  In fact, this wedding started over an hour after the time on the invitation.

The groom waiting for his bride.  Good thing they were already married in the US or he might be sweating it 🙂

2 – Instead of a traditional wedding party where everyone dresses the same, the important people in the couple’s lives are paired up, in duos called padrinhos.  This can be siblings, cousins, or important friends.   They don’t dress in the same bridesmaids dress, or suit, just in what they have chosen.   They stand at the altar, but seats are provided to sit in during the ceremony.

The lovely couple: the brides’s sister Miss L and cousin D. Image courtesy of Miss L’s camera.

3 – While USA flower girls are tiny, flower girls can have more of an age range in Brazil.

The lovely flower girl.  Image courtesy of Miss L’s camera.

4– The parents share a prayer at the beginning of the service.

5 – The weddings are more formal than the normal US wedding.  I actually wasn’t aware of this and had a little confusion thinking we were wearing the same dress as Ohio and didn’t bring anything suitable.  I passed in one of my dresses packed for Rio.     However, 99% of guests were dressed in their best suit and ball gown.

6 – After the ceremony, the samba music starts rocking. They are very talented and their rhythms inspire instantaneous dancing.

The bride’s sister had hired this band as a present.

So instant, in fact, that everyone dances during the appetizers and before the dinner.  And their feet can move!!!  We were so impressed, especially by Awesome Son’s fast footwork.

Bride, rocking to samba.

7 – Similar to throwing the bridal bouquet, in Brazil, the bride throws a cluster of Santo Antonio dolls at the eligible girls.  This Saint, Antonio, is whom you pray to when you want to get married.

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D  threw one of these in Ohio.  As soon as it is launched, all the individual saints fly off into the crowd, at least four or five of them.   We Americans thought that it was a pretty neat trick for appeasement of many women who want to be married.  But the little girls got more sad they didn’t ‘win’ the game because they were dolls!

In fact, I had to console one little granddaughter of Aunt Foxy Floridian, letting her know that it was okay….she shouldn’t want a husband quite yet, they are a lot of work!  (just kidding, my love)

8Caipirinhas, the national drink of Brazil, are served in addition to beer and non-alcholic beverages.

Image courtesy of wikipedia

Awesome Son has a caipirina in his hand!

9 – Guests are given sweet cakes called casadinhos, or “marry well” cookies.  They are sweet cookies melded together with a sweet sticky center.  It is said that whomever eats one shares in the same luck as the bride and the groom.  D’s aunts & Mama I brought these to Ohio for everyone to partake.  And they were delicious!!

10 – Things get crazy after dinner at Brazilian weddings.   Dinner was served a little after midnight, and shortly after eating, the sisters handed out fun dress up items for us to “get crazy”.  It was like New Years Eve!

Me and my garb

The groom with his faux tie and hat

Aunt Sensuous Siren

Aunt Foxy Floridian

Everyone convened to a little glass room where a late night DJ was stationed to continue partying until the early morning.  Confetti cannons started booming and everyone danced the night away.

The little glass room was rockin’

It is said that Brazilian festivities don’t stop until all the food and booze run out.  We only stayed until 2:30am  so I can’t personally vouch for this, but I think the rest of the crew got in around 5:00am.

And tradition # 11  didn’t happen. Gabe had read the below custom on this site, so he was disappointed his brother didn’t ride the donkey.

“Very interesting wedding tradition in Brazil is that the groom has to subdue an unruly donkey. In such way he should to prove his worth as a responsible husband. The Brazilians called this custom as Bumba-Meu-Boi. This custom appears only in some parts of Brazil.”

The blog post is named Eu Aceito as these are the vows one would say (like “I do”) in the Portuguese language.  B, the groom, realized a few minutes before the ceremony that this information would be helpful.  He found D’s father who gave his son-in-law a quick lesson on when and what to say during the ceremony!!

Our trip, by the numbers

We are finally home in Geneva.   Below is a recap of our most recent trip, by the numbers.

Our route: Pink is me. Blue is Gabe. Purple is when we were together.

20,000      # of miles flying, averaged (19270 for me, 20126 for Gabe)

1,250         # of miles driven from Charlotte to Appomattox to Charlottesville to Appomattox to Blacksburg to Ohio and around Ohio for the wedding

56              # of hours spent flying in a plane

28              # of days I was gone

21               # of days Gabe was gone

11               # of beds slept in (3 in Charlotte for me, Appomattox, Blacksburg, Mendon, Rio, Goiania, Perinópolous, hammock, Atlanta)

10               # of legs of flights, each

8               # tanks of gas filled with our rental cars

7                # of loads of laundry done – 2 Charlotte, 2 at my moms, 2 at Gabe’s moms, 1 at the Courtyard Marriott Atlanta

5                 # of pumpkin spice lattes consumed during the trip (only available in September)

4                 # of overnight flights (over 9 hours)

3                 # of continents

2                # of different rental cars

2                 # of wedding ceremonies for Gabe’s brother & our sister-in-law attended

1                # of college football games attended

But, attending cross continent weddings and seeing immense numbers of friends & family……Priceless.

Aside from it being priceless, I think I can vouch for both of us that we have a little bit of travel burnout.   We’ll be sharing our Brazilian travels in the coming week so look for those on the blog.  I’ll be taking a nap in the meantime, recuperating from our journey.

Gratitude Friday: Making a VT game

As it turned out,  we were able to sneak in a Virginia Tech game when we were in the States.   Gabe joined me in Virginia, so that we could drive up to Ohio together  to help with the wedding preparations and to see Gabe’s friends & family.

And, do you know what falls on the way driving between Virginia and Ohio?   Blacksburg!!   It was amazing timing that the same day we planned to drive  happened to be the Monday night home season opener.  What luck!  Or, maybe it was fate!

For those of you know don’t know about American football, we can be quite fanatical about it.   My university, Virginia Tech, located in Blacksburg, Virginia, is no exception.  I am less fanatical than most of my friends.    I only wish I could be as dedicated as them, but a three-year long distance relationship and International move has inhibited by game-attendance.

Here is a quick video to orient you to the craziness that is Virginia Tech football:

Beyond the “Enter Sandman” and the actual game watching, most of the fun around game attendance is doing something called “tailgating”.  I will explain it for those of you who aren’t from America.   Before the game, people park their SUVs (sport utility vehicles) in the parking lots surrounding the stadium.  They arrive much earlier than the start time, sometimes 12 hours in advance.  They set up food and drinks on the tailgate of the car.  More committed tailgates also have chairs and tables that they set up behind the car.   And they “pre-game” for many hours before the actual game is set to occur.

Things that are common to tailgates in the South:

-special cars / tailgating-mobiles

Image courtesy of Facebook

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-camping chairs

-grills or burners or crock pots for cooking food

Awesome grill, image courtesy of

Image courtesy of flickr

-delicious foods such as : fried chicken, deviled eggs, pasta salad, ham biscuits, chips, and homemade desserts.  Sometimes there are hot dogs and hamburgers.  In the winter, there can be soups and chilis to keep you warm.

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-bourbon & beer

-games such as flip cup, beer pong, or cornhole

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As I mentioned, the fans are super dedicated.    I’d like to provide you with some examples:

  • Two of our couple friends, both of which have given birth to their first child in the last 9 months, rent out an apartment for the season.  This enables them to have an entire weekend dedicated to Hokie football.   They bring sofas, TVs, and blow up beds and pay rent.   They’ve been doing it for years.   And now the babies are here, they haven’t stopped.  That’s serious commitment.

Have baby. Will tailgate.

  • These same friends may or may not have a generator, special TV and slingbox/cable for their car to tailgate, so you can watch the ESPN commentary live.

Watching ESPN from our tailgate

  • One of these couples is so important to VT that the Hokie Bird came to their wedding:

Hanging w/ Hokie Bird @ R’s wedding

  • I grew up with a Hokie Fan who has only missed 3 Virginia Tech home games in the last 25 years.

The Hokie-tastic family where the dad, my friend, has missed 3 games in 25 years!

  • I was in a wedding of one of my best friends that was completely VT themed.

C’s wedding, 2007

  • A bunch of us gals are so serious about VT football that we actually went to Women’s training camp in Blacksburg to prepare for the upcoming Football season.

Girls with all the VT coaches after our two day training camp

This is Gabe’s third VT game.  He is very good at cheering for VT, as long as they aren’t playing against Ohio State or Miami of Ohio (his alma mater).   He also doesn’t like eating the turkey legs they serve there as he considers in cannibalistic.  Which it is, sort of, since our mascot is a turkey.

Our mascot, Hokie Bird, is a turkey

Image courtesy of Talesfromtheroad –

You should see the opposing team’s jeers and posters on Thanksgiving game weekend!

Anyhow, this game, we bought Gabe his first VT shirt.   I think marriage has finally convinced him that he probably needs one since I’ll be trying to get him to go to more VT games in his lifetime than he’d previously planned on.

Playing cornhole in the new Hokie digs

The game was great – we got to tailgate and sit with great friends.   VT finally pulled out a victory in overtime, the first in Lane Stadium.    Go Hokies!

Bon weekend, everyone!

Home Sweet Home: Hotlanta

While in The States, we were able to visit Atlanta for Gabe to work three days in his headquarter office.  While Gabe worked, I got to visit many friends and family members during the day.  We were even able to squeeze in a few at night together after he finished up at the office.

Some of our visits in Atlanta.

Even though Gabe had lived there 2 years prior to our move & marriage, and I was familiar with the city through work and visiting with him, we both were overwhelmed with Atlanta traffic this trip.   It was a combination of volume and size of the highways, most being six lanes on each side.   We aren’t used to this so we did experience a little culture shock there as we flew into ATL at rush hour.

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People also drive aggressively.  Sure, it may be attributed to the fact that I don’t drive in Switzerland so driving altogether is new to me when I visit The States.   However, the anger and impatient way in which people drive was something that took getting used to.

Also, why do people in Atlanta cut across parking lots versus driving in the lanes?   I had a lot of sightings of this behavior as we were staying in Perimeter, near Gabe’s office.  It is a shopping mecca with every store imaginable.  I took full advantage, stocking up on our much-needed supplies at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, Hobby Lobby, Marshalls & TJMaxx.  And of course, many stops at Yoforia and Starbucks.

But while driving to these suburban shopping centers, I was almost T-boned more than once.  Is this noticeable to anyone or is it that I have been living in the land of rules and now I am more perceptive of “rule-breakers”?

Other than our traffic woes, it was a great stop because we got to see a few friends and family members.  However, as you’ll learn Saturday’s post, our Atlanta stop was Day 26- 28 of travel for me, so I was starting to lose steam.  Sorry, Atlanta….next time I’ll be more peppy!

Au Revoir, ATL!

Home Sweet Home: O. H. I. O.

Gabe is from Ohio, which is where his brother’s wedding was held (our reason for coming home to the US).    He is from the western side, but on the way in from Virginia, we stopped in Columbus to see some of his good college friends.  It was really nice to catch up with this sweet family, see their new house, and enjoy some local cuisine.

After Columbus, we continued driving to Mendon, his hometown.

We were very much busy with the wedding set-up, but had time to visit his grandma along with Gabe’s grandfather.  They are both doing good and we had nice visits, making us wish we were closer.

Gabe & Grandma

We also had the opportunity to witness some beautiful Ohio sunsets on Gabe’s family farm.

Sunset on the Johnson family farm

The night before the wedding, we threw a Ohio State themed rehearsal dinner.  Since D’s family was from Brazil, we wanted to provide a taste of what a family get-together was like in Ohio.  With B being an Ohio State fan, we figured an American football themed soiree would provide a glimpse into typical family & fall parties.

Testing the pork being served for the rehearsal dinner

Everyone dressed in Ohio State’s colors of red/white/grey.  It provided with some fun for the actual rehearsal.

Bridesmaids & bride, decked out in Ohio State colors. None of us went to Ohio State 🙂

Gabe’s parents in their Ohio State red attire

Processional practice in Ohio State digs. I was impressed that everyone from Brazil got into the theme so well!

If I had an award for “Best Dressed” I would give it to this family for their perfect combination of color!

After the rehearsal, we all drove to Gabe’s family farm where we were hosting the rehearsal dinner.  All the foods were typical of Ohio and we jazzed up the house with themed decorations.

Ohio State paper decorations and confetti

Delicious homemade pies made by the aunts

We downloaded this graphic from the internet and printed on label paper for fun wine bottle decorations

Ohio State accents

The crowd flowing through the buffet in the kitchen

The band, dressed in their Ohio State finest.  Notice their Ohio State koozies, a favor from the party.

The Brazilian crowd enjoying the Ohio feast.

It was so good to have some time in O-H-I-O!!!

Home Sweet Home: Virginia

Both Gabe and I got to make it to Appomattox, my hometown, to see friends and family before heading up to B & D’s wedding.  Appomattox is located in Central Virginia.  It is most famous for the fact that the American Civil War ended there in 1865, with Lee’s Surrender.

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The town is quite small but Gabe is accustomed to small rural towns; actually, where he grew up in Mendon, Ohio is of similar size.   When we first started dating, there was actually an argument / competition who was from the smaller town.  I would argue that my town didn’t have 911 yet (required all roads to have street names vs. road numbers, which hadn’t happened yet) and he would argue that he had zero stoplights in his town.   Appomattox now has about 4-5 stoplights in the County, and the town has since gotten 911.  Mendon still has zero stoplights.  So, I guess he wins.

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Anyhow, we had a really nice time visiting the family in Appomattox and enjoying Virginia-type stuff.  It was too short, though, and we look forward to more time our next visit.

Below are a few photos of our stay:

Nana (my mom) and I went to visit my niece and nephew for a school lunch in Lynchburg.  I only took photos with my niece as my nephew is 10 and this might not be cool to have your aunt documenting her visiting you at school.

Waiting for Gabe’s flight, Mom and I had lunch with friends and then visited Veritas winery in Charlottesville. A great way to kill time 🙂

Nephew B came to visit and we had a typical day at Nana & Papa’s: hunting for golf balls in the backyard.  Papa may have tossed 10 out before we went outside, but we did find two legit ones.

B having fun visiting Burke’s tavern and the sheep

My friend C and her husband brought adorable A over to play. She was ready for the first Hokie game in her VT attire!

Visiting the family in Lynchburg  to watch some great backyard action with nephew C and Zoey.

Home Sweet Home: Charlotte

While we were in the States for the wedding, I was able to visit Charlotte, the city in which I lived after college (up until Switzerland) as my first stop.  Sadly, Gabe’s vacation is a bit limited, so he couldn’t join for this part.

I landed in the Queen City after a succession of three flights and nineteen hours of travel.  My bags miraculously made it, which surprised me greatly because my connections in Paris and JFK involved lots of running.   So, thanks, Delta.

Driving around the first few days in the States is a typically a combination of good / sad at the same time.   First off, I love driving.  I really miss it when in Geneva, since I don’t how to drive our manual car.  Especially on hills.  I crank the radio really loud and enjoy singing loudly to the English Top-40 songs that play…it’s good to actually know the words and have a change from the same 5 English songs they play on repeat in Geneva.

Other highlights are visiting my friends and hitting the favorite spots.  And doing hot yoga as much as I can to try to burn out of it before I go back to Switzerland.

However, as I am driving around, passing parts of Charlotte make me tear up.    Passing R’s old apartment, my eyes welled remembering all the good times we had as single girls in the city and all our post-work neighborhood walks.    Driving to work to meet coworkers is another source of nostalgia since I worked for the same company for ten years.   “Camping” in my old house, which is now completely empty is another emotional spot .

A stormy night in the Queen City

Since Charlotte was my first city on the trip back to the US, I wanted to share my odd list of things I noticed with “foreigner eyes” back in my old home:

–       Charlotte = Blond + colorful.  The first 4 hours of my first day in Charlotte included a hot yoga class and a sermon at my old church.  Everyone dressed brightly in both places.   And there were astonishing amounts of blond people.   In Geneva, most everyone dresses in black and dark grey.  Occasionally, if they are feeling wild, it can go navy.  And skin and hair colors are of full range, since 50% of the city is made up of foreigners including pretty much every nationality.   I never really noticed this prior….but it was a really overwhelming observation on my first day back.

–       Customer service.  Readers of this blog know that I have my challenges with customer service in Switzerland.  You never ever sub / delete anything from a dish on a menu, or else they would just suggest you order something else.     When I dined with friends  in Charlotte, a few times, they made substitutions or changes.  One friend someone sent something back.  I shrunk back in my chair, awaiting a backlash….but, the waiters could not have been more accommodating.    After our time in Europe, it has become odd to me how much American servers check on their tables or come around for refills.  Since this is not something I am used to anymore, I have this odd paranoia surrounding overly nice servers like they are going to do something crazy any moment.  Weird, I know…’s just that I have been reverse-conditioned for Southern hospitality.

–       Related, but customization.  I frequented a few frozen yogurt stores in Charlotte.  I am a huge fan of fro-yo, but even since we left a year and a half ago, there is a crazy proliferation of the little joints….I counted 7 more storefronts than I’d seen.    And all of them allow you to make your own….so you fill the yogurt, and add your toppings, and weigh it, then pay.       Similar to this, in enjoying meals with friends at Bad Daddy’s and going to new Dilworth addition, Crisp, I was able to re-experience the  “build your own burger” and “make your own salad” concepts.  This was familiar before our move, but after living in Geneva for a year and a half, it was unfathomable to me….customers can have it however they want.  This is definitely not part of our Swiss vocabulary.

–       Speed of life.  Everyone is in a rush in the US, running around, jamming things in.  This type of hurried lifestyle is one of my least favorite characteristics about myself that I know I need to improve and I am trying to work on.  It is easier to work on Switzerland where fewer people behave in this manner, so it becomes more normal to take things slow.   However, I noticed myself picking up the pace in the US during my short time and becoming more “efficient” to keep up.   It reminds me that I’ll have to figure out how to bring back the Swiss calmness and lessons learned on relaxing when we move back home permanently.

–       Doing errands is easy in the US.   I know where things are and what type of stores have them.  I don’t have to research where, the address, and bus schedules.  I just hop in the car and go.   The best is that I can keep purchases and future supplies in the car versus schlepping them around all day.  And, I can go in my gym clothes which is a huge no-no in Geneva.

–       Cost.  When a few of my lunches added up to $7  – $10 USD, I gleefully forked over the cash.  These lunch meals would have been 25 -40 CHF in Geneva.  This is why I have only eaten lunch out in Geneva five times in 15 months.  It felt nice to eat out and not feel like I was going to bankrupt us doing so.

–  I still am afraid someone is going to steal my purse.  I never used to be afraid of this in the States, but living in Europe, its a constant worry….after all, most of my friends have caught a hand in their zipped purses at some point or another and a few others have had purses or wallets stolen.   I caught myself looping my leg through the straps while in church and realized I can likely adjust my behavior while home and relax just a little bit.

Thanks for a great visit, everyone!

A cross section of some of the fun visits I had in Charlotte