Planning our surprise wedding was more challenging than expected but we somehow we managed. Dale's family had spent a week in Ecuador with us when we sprung the news on them. We were relaxing in the garden of our Quito hotel with Barrie, Dan and Toby when we had the waiter present them with the very latin-looking invitations we had printed in Cuenca. Not recognizing our names, they at first thought they had been invited to the wedding of other hotel guests. After a few moments, they realized the truth and were happily surprised.
Dana's parents flew in that evening. (We had been hoping Dana's sis and hubby, Lisa and Chris, would make it too, but instead we got the news that Lisa was expecting her first baby so a trip to Ecuador and the Amazon Basin was out.) For Dana's parents, we put an invite on their bed, so when they checked into the hotel at 11pm it was the first thing they saw. They also were momentarily confused but woke the hotel with their delighted shrieks when they realized the truth.
Attiring ourselves for such an occasion while living out of backpacks was no easy task. Dana bought a wedding dress by designer Minh Koah from his Saigon, Vietnam boutique. The dress was immediately stuffed into a ziploc bag in the bottom of her pack where it remained during travel by buses, boats, and planes through several countries before reaching its final destination. Dale decided to wait until we were in Ecuador before purchasing his wedding day outfit. Of course, this was a big mistake, as the average Ecuadorian man is 5 feet tall with a size 8 shoe. After weeks of combing through every store in Cuenca, Dale ultimately had a black suit hand-tailored in a local shop. Shoes were a bigger challenge as no-one sold or made them in his size. Fortunately, our travel agent was a tall man with big feet, and he advised Dale that the only place that sold amercian-sized shoes was a sporting good store in Quito. Dale bought his wedding shoes there, two days before the ceremony.
The next day, we all headed up to the Hacienda Cusin in the highlands, where we were to be married. The day of the wedding dawned bright and sunny and the whole gang headed to the famous Otavalo market for a taste of local flavor and some shopping. The Hacienda staff feared rain and wanted to prepare for an indoor wedding, but we tested our luck and had them set up outside. Gloria, a local judge, married us, and 2 local men served as witnesses. We were married in Spanish, signed the contract, and took a sip of wine before the rains began. We followed the band through the grounds to our reception, where we dined on local cuisine, drank Chilean wine and danced to Andean tunes.
Wedding Pics! (click picture for full-sized version)
The surprise invitation / The ceremony
The deed is done / The rains begin
Our witnesses / The Andean band
Ecuadorian dinner / On the dance floor
Proud fathers / The whole gang
Ceremonial cake cutting / The happy couple