I’ve blogged before about the various settlers in Texas: the Anglos, the Native tribes and the Tejanos, Texans of Mexican or Spanish descent. Today I want to share a scene from my book Her Abundant Joy, which will be released early in 2010. The Tejano Wedding from Her Abundant Joy, third book in my Texas Star of Destiny series, Three Generations, Three Historic Texas Events, 1821-1847.
“The women led Sugar (the bride) out of the house toward the white canopy where the ceremony would be held. Mariel hung back toward the rear of the procession. The priest from a nearby mission church had come and would give his blessing to the couple in this unorthodox open-air ceremony. Since there were still few Anglo churches in Texas, the families felt fortunate to have a man of God present.
To Mariel’s surprise, the two fathers would actually be the ones performing the wedding. Mrs. Quinn had said that this sort of “family” wedding was common on the frontier. Often so far from any town or any church, a wedding consisted of a man and woman declaring that they were husband and wife and writing of their union in a family Bible.
Such a contrast to the formality of marriages and church records in Germany. …
Everyone waited under the canopy, leaving an aisle open for the bride’s procession. Leading it was Erin as flower girl and young Carlos Falconer as the page at her side. Then came the damas or bridesmaids and the chamblanes or other groomsmen all in their wedding finery. At the front of the canopy waited a beaming Emilio with Scully Falconer as padrino and Carson as best man—both in black suits–at his side. …
Finally Sugar on her father’s arm reached Emilio (the groom) who wore a more Spanish-looking suit of brown. The madrino put something in Emilio’s hand that clinked.
In the back of the gathering standing beside Mariel was the man called Ash with his wife Reva who were as close as family to the Quinns.
Ash leaned close to Mariel and murmured, “Emilio will give Sugar those thirteen gold reals later in the ceremony. The coins symbolize that he is trusting her with all his worldly goods.” Mariel nodded and smiled.
The priest began speaking in Latin, often making the sign of the cross and obviously praying for the couple. Then he stepped away, joining the wedding guests. The madrina placed one chain of flowers around both the bride’s and the groom’s necks.
Ash leaned over again. “This is el lazo, which symbolizes the love that has joined these two. They will wear it throughout the ceremony and then Sugar will wear it the rest of the day.”
…Mr. Quinn read out the marriage vows from a small black Book of Common Prayer and the bride and groom exchanged rings. Then Mr. Quinn said, “Emilio, you may kiss your bride.”
Spontaneous applause broke out. Mariel thought it very strange. No one had applauded at her wedding, least of all her. This seemed appropriate here. She joined in. Then after the formal kiss, she watched Emilio give Sugar the thirteen gold coins which Sugar placed in a box that she handed to her brother. Then the newly married couple turned to face the guests.
Mr. Quinn said, “These two have become one for life. Please greet Mr. and Mrs. Emilio Ramirez.” He repeated this in Spanish and there were shouts of joy and more applauding.
Well, I hope that this gives you some idea of a Tejano wedding in 1846. I found the symbolism—el lazo, the 13 golden coins–especially touching. I have added an image of the traditional wedding cookies that would have been also served. What caught your interest?