Published on March 3rd, 2011 | by Emma Hackwood2
Getting Married in Cuba: Scottish Style
Destination Weddings are not only growing in popularity, but in creativity as well. Our friend Brian Bobroff recently attended a friend’s wedding in Cuba and we couldn’t help but share this fun story with you.
The traditional Scottish ditty “Donald Where’s Your Trooser’s” blared at a surprising volume from the groom’s handheld device. The song was a fitting soundtrack as none of us were wearing troosers, trousers or even pants. Josh, minutes from marriage, and his brother Alastair are putting on our kilts, sporrans and hosiery in their family tradition. As the best man, I am also donning a rented kilt and accoutrement alongside the brothers. We are in Alastair’s suite, mercifully air-conditioned from the sweltering Cuban mid-day sunshine. Suiting up for a Scottish wedding was not something I learned at Hebrew school in Saskatchewan. More importantly, will the ceremonial plastic blade worn in my hose, a reminder that kilts were the military uniform of the Scots, somehow cause a problem with customs on my way home?
Josh and his wife, Jasmine, decided to get married at the Paradisus Rio de Oro near Holguin, after a previous visit. Located on the south-east corner of the island, the area is not as overrun with resorts like Varadero in the northwest, near Havana. The resort itself is often considered as one of the best on the entire island. Beautifully manicured grounds, staff that will exceed expectations and food that is beyond expectations (for Cuba) make this a resort that has a very high number of repeat guest including the wedding couple. The new Royal Services section is brand new and adds another level of opulence to an already beautiful resort. Butler service, a private restaurant and pool along with exquisitely upgraded rooms are some of the features to expect.
Destination weddings are increasingly popular with betrothed couples looking for exotic locations with experienced wedding planners, a more controlled guest list, and a budget that does not put you deeply in debt to start your wedded bliss. The cost for guests limits it to people who actually like you, or at least like your taste in destinations. Some couples go alone, others may host 200 people. This wedding has a couple dozen guests allowing everyone time to get to know each other. More importantly, the bride and groom have time to share with everybody.
With the help of the brothers, we center my kilt and sporran properly. We all wore different tartans, each representing a different clan in the family history. My kilt was a combination of thick black vertical bands, horizontal red and hints of yellow. The groom had similar colours but his kilt was of a quality that exuded family pride that my rental could never share. Each band or stripe represents a special event or wedding in the family history. The most important lesson of the day is from his Granny. She would stand five feet tall if she was perched on a footstool and has all the energy and spirit of someone ten times her size. A Scottish immigrant to Canada long before Josh was born; she thankfully never lost her musical brogue. Since it is hot, she needs to give us lads a lesson on how not to roast in the tropical pressure cooker outside the comfort of the suite. She gyrates her pelvis with an invisible hula-hoop adding a song about the ‘Wig, wig, waggle of your kilt.” We mimic her motions and sure enough, a welcome breeze cools off our unsupported nether regions. No red blooded man would dare to break the code of wearing a kilt without going commando, eschewing underwear. Prior to my trip I was enlightened of a classic refrain. “What is worn underneath your kilt? Nothing is worn, it is all in excellent condition!”
A horse drawn carriage spirits us away to the wedding gazebo overlooking the Bay of Esmeralda. The horse departs quickly to fetch the most important member of the wedding party. Waves purled against the shore as the sun began to slowly descend toward the horizon. A short bridge with white railings leads us to the blessed shade of the canopy. Our hips periodically rotate the imaginary hula-hoop bringing a moment of breezy relief. Granny’s wisdom is very welcome. The clip clop of the horse becomes louder as the carriage returns with the bride. Jasmine steps out of the coach revealing a red and black tartan gown that is mercifully light. Destination weddings are not ideal for long white trains trailing behind the bride. Her smile is her finest feature as any camera within view is immediately clicking away with the faux snap sound synonymous with digital cameras.
A short, sweet and beautiful ceremony later, the couple are joined in matrimony. The rhythmic sounds of spicy Cuban music help envelop the guests in a festive mood. A surprise for most experienced visitors to the island is that this resort has also been voted one of the top five resorts in the Caribbean by Monarc.ca (a Canadian based review site generated by recent travellers).
Cuba is certainly well known for a vibrant music scene, sugary-white sand beaches and hospitable people. It is equally well known for appalling food mostly a result of the US embargo preventing imports to the island. Our wedding meal was indeed memorably succulent and worthy of praise. Fine aged Santiago rum was the choice beverage to imbibe. A celebratory belt of Scotch quickly created a reminder of the heavy woolen garment draped around me. The sun has long gone to rest and even the best nights have to become morning. I retreat to my room in the serenity and opulence of the new Royal Services section of the resort. I pack my ceremonial blade as a bookmark in my checked bag and hope that the customs officials do not think I am a shifty fellow. I had better don my troosers!
Thinking about a destination wedding in Cuba? Call one of our agents at 1-877-967-5302 or stop by your local Flight Centre to start planning your big day!