Since I started planning my own wedding, suddenly I can't go anywhere without coming across couples wedding one another. On my recent trip to Rio de Janeiro, I bumped into a bride and groom swooning on the roof terrace at the lovely Porto Bay Hotel.
In Santiago, newlyweds flock outside my flat taking pictures by the multi-coloured waters of the Bicentenario Fountain. And now I am just back from my first Mexican wedding. This time I wasn't just a bystander, nor just a guest, but a bridesmaid.
We, the bridal party, landed amid tough times. The bride and groom were dabbling in a couple of tense moments over wedding planning. Language and cultural barriers abounded, and a few days before The Big Day it was unclear whether a wedding would materialise, especially one that included all of the following: food, drink, DJ, bride and groom.
A couple of slightly stressful, well-watered (both with tears and tequila) days ensued, including a Mexican-style Hen party.
Our location? I'll give you one clue: it was the mother-in-law to be's (MILTB) suggestion… A strip club, but of course - forget girly tea parties, this is Mexico!
We ordered tequila by the bottle, danced our hearts out and chanted as builder followed cowboy followed policeman across the dance floor, all leaving somewhat more scantily clad than they arrived.
Our lovely bride-to-be wore an L-plate around her neck, an accoutrement that was met with confused looks from the locals, but resulted in plenty of lap dances. Then, as though she wasn't covered in enough stripper's oil already, MILTB bought her a private lap dance.
I kept thinking of my own MILTB, and decided that Britain and Mexico breed very different specimens when it comes to MILs.
Finally, the wedding day dawned. An hour before we were due to leave, it transpired that transport hadn't been organised. Luckily, the hotel had a stretch limo, so Father of the Bride (FOTB) worked his magic and soon we found ourselves cruising along the wide roads, finally becoming that wedding party.
After a few miss-turns we arrived at the gates of the wedding venue. But our grins fell from our faces when we found we were locked out. Granted, we were early (the plan was to do photographs before the reception) but still, it wasn't quite the welcome we were hoping for.
Ten minutes passed, the heat intensifying, until finally a man appeared on a bicycle bearing keys.
Safely through the gates, it was as though the music suddenly started. Like a secret haven untouched by the troubles of the outside world, the wedding venue was carpeted with bright green grass, shaded by palm trees, cooled by a lake, and accessorised with a marquee filled with tables and a white dance floor.
The wedding ceremony took place on an island on the lake. We bridal party processed along a narrow walkway and stood laughing with relief, joy and emotion as the register was signed and the groom was finally permitted to kiss his bride.
MARRYING ABROAD: INTERNATIONAL VENUES
Guacamole and nachos appeared, followed by a spread of Mexican delicacies, speeches and dancing. Then the Mexican traditions began: bride and groom were balanced on chairs whilst the male wedding guests ran circles round them opening their mouths as they passed the groom who, balanced precariously on his chair, was watering them with a bottle of tequila.
Even the FOTB took part, earning himself bucket loads of kudos from the young Mexicans. Sombreros, glow sticks, aprons, Mickey mouse ears, wigs and much more dressing-up gear appeared as the hours drew on. A final foodie highlight dawned at midnight when a stall making homemade quesadillas appeared alongside the dance floor.
The contrast between the run-up and wedding day were so marked that this perfect wedding day already seems like a dream. So bright were the colours, so happy the couple, so elated the guests, that this magical Mexican wedding has set a precedent that will be very hard to beat.