Of the Latin American republics, Bolivia is the most isolated and still considered a third world country, making it is unrecognized as being an “ideal” place for a destination wedding. But WBM hopes to change this perception. Naira Robles, Business Development Manager, for Moet Hennessy USA went back to her roots and wedded in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she was born. She married her long time love Leighton Shields. They met back in 2004, and he asked for her hand in marriage in December 2015. They originally wanted to elope in Italy, but later decided to have a traditional ceremony in her hometown of Cochabamba.
The beautiful couple wedded on Saturday, September 17, 2016. The traditional ceremony took place at the Catholic Church Iglesia de Tiquipaya, where I was fortunate to witness their beautiful ceremony, full of tradition and love. One particularly memorable tradition was presenting 12 gold coins brought by the bride’s parents to be blessed by the priest and given to the bride and groom as a sign of prosperity and good fortune as they enter their union. Another tradition was the wrapping of a gold chain; the parents wrapped a gold chain around the couple as a symbol of longevity as the couple untied it.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds exited the church in style in a Model T Ford soft top convertible to head to their reception. The wedding celebration was held at a private mansion in a desolate area in the mountains of Cochabamba, also known as the “city of eternal spring.” The venue was breathtaking—filled with flowers and an amazing landscape. As the guest entered the mansion they were greeted with a Bolivian-style sangria that consisted of singani and a strawberry puree. During the cocktail hour, waiters served traditional Bolivian hors d’oeuvres; one that stood out was the Sopa de Mani also known as peanut soup, a popular lunch dish typically served with french fries and garnish and is the most important meal of the day in the Bolivian culture; in fact, schools and employers are closed from 12pm to 2pm when everyone comes together.
Following the cocktail hour, the guests were seated in a U-shape seating at tables surrounding the dance floor. The tables were adorned with the most elegant pastel floral center pieces. Dinner was served, Bolivian style with picante de pollo (spicy chicken), chuño (variation of potato), vegetables, steak and a potato cake of sorts. Picante de pollo is a popular traditional dish. Chuño is a freeze dried potato and is one of 4,000 different variations of potatoes that exist in Bolivia.
After dinner, the festivities continued with the customary throwing of the bouquet, and the removal of the bride’s garter belt. The bride was then surprised with a performance by Tinku dancers, traditional Andean dancers, who performed their native dance and music for the bride’s viewing pleasure. Their wedding cake was gorgeous and adorned with cut pastel flowers and served to the delight of the guests. The night ended with laughter, fun and dancing.
The bride and groom were both stunning. The bride wore a convertible sweetheart neckline tube dress with floral embroidery and a detachable train. The train was connected at the multifunctional pearl embellished waist belt that helped cinch the waist. The bride was able to remove the exaggerated train at the reception for a new look, allowing her to move more freely. The now fitted dress was the ideal look for her reception, showing off her beautiful frame while showcasing elegance. The bride wore a beautiful 84-inch long custom Bolivian lace veil that draped longer than her dress’s train. She held true to tradition with “Something Old (her diamond earrings she received from her husband for Christmas, years prior), Something New (her gorgeous gown and veil), Something Borrowed (her mother’s sapphire necklace that she wore on her big day), Something Blue (her wedding shoes, royal blue Manolo Blahnik). Everything came together so perfectly for the bride’s magical day.
The groom kept it classic in an Ermenegildo Zegna black tuxedo, with a Thomas Pink tuxedo white shirt accented with black buttons and a bow tie with Jimmy Choo patent shoes. The perfect complement for his lovely bride.