During a production meeting a few months back, one of the weavers that I work with, Carlos, shyly handed me an envelope addressed to my family. He nodded at me to open it and when I did, I saw that it was an invitation to his wedding. "Congratulations! You're engaged? This is so exciting!" I cheered in Spanish while I gave him a big hug - probably not the reaction he was used to getting.
Not really having any reference to a typical Mayan wedding, I later asked Delia (Carlos' sister who I work very closely with) what I was supposed to wear. Delia, with a wide smile on her face, told me that she and her sisters would take care of the outfits that my 4 year old daughter Hazel and I should wear and that we only had to bring fancy, colorful shoes.
The day of the wedding my husband, son, daughter and I arrived bright and early. Before we even had time to put our bags down, Delia and five of her sisters whisked Hazel and me off to get us dressed. We went into one of their adobe homes and as they spoke to one another in Kaqchikel (their Mayan dialect) while shuffling textiles around, I explained quietly to Hazel that they had something special for us to wear. Little did I know that they had handwoven entire, traditional outfits for both of us.
What they unveiled to us was a hand-dyed, handwoven and hand-embroidered huipil blouse, wrap skirt, and belt special to their region of Solola, Guatemala. Each of these items had taken them weeks to weave and they had done so with Hazel and me, especially, in mind. Somehow each piece fit like a glove and before we knew it, it was time for us to make our debut. When we entered the party, we got some stares and snickers, but all in good spirit. Hazel was definitely a sight to behold with her curly blonde hair, big blue eyes, and traditional traje.
The day was spent celebrating the bride and groom, listening to music, eating a huge feast of a vegetable soup, chicken and tamales, and chatting with all the guests of the wedding. It was absolutely an occasion unlike any other and such a true honor that my family and I were not only invited to attend, but so warmly welcomed as friends.
I feel endlessly lucky that through the process of building this business I have also been able to experience such an authentic and genuine connection to Guatemala. I will forever cherish the beautiful, handwoven clothing we were gifted and the stories and photos of this special day that we will share for a lifetime.