A Family Wedding In Cartagena, Colombia


I recall the day my brother brought home his girlfriend Kelly to our home in Sydney to meet the family. I was surprised that A.) he had a girlfriend and B.) she was such an amazing person. I was always interested in what lies he had let on to have her so interested in him, but once I saw these two together it was so easy to see this was the real deal. A few years passed and he went down on one knee unknowingly to anyone whilst they were away for her birthday in Tasmania. We were all excited with the news and immediately my brother let us know the wedding would be held in Cartagena, Colombia so we could have the wedding around Kelly’s family and friends as she had been living away from them for the last few years.

Now after receiving my invite and blocking out the dates for the wedding and travel I began to figure out a small pattern. My brother had proposed to Kelly on her birthday and the wedding would be one year and one day after the proposal. Seems like he wanted to make it easy on himself and only have to fork out a couple of gifts a year. Now onto the wedding…

KP and I were living abroad prior to the wedding in Thailand and made the journey back to Australia where we would then board a plane and fly to the states then onwards to Cartagena, Colombia for the wedding. To say I was excited about arriving in Colombia was an understatement!

Before arriving in Colombia, KP and I had booked an Airbnb apartment for one night before we would move into the lavish condo within the walled city where the wedding would take place. We were picked up from the airport by a pre-arranged taxi driver and dropped at our accommodation. We were led upstairs to a room that was not what we had booked. After speaking Spanglish with the owner, we received a refund and booked a hotel closer to where my family was staying. Unaware to both myself and KP our taxi driver had called my brother’s fiancé after dropping us off and said ‘Are you sure you want to leave your family here?’ When we heard all I could do was laugh it off although once reflecting on how the events unfolded it was a little strange that three people escorted us out of the apartment and made sure we got into a taxi safely.


Anyway we now arrived at our new hotel Hotel Aqualina B&B and checked in. For anyone looking to stay in Cartagena this place is awesome with a full Colombian-style breakfast included for a reasonable price. The evening was spent catching up with our family for dinner and venturing out to the famous bar on the Old Wall, Café del Mar, where we soaked in the spectacular view of the city with a beverage in hand.

The following morning KP and I took some time to venture out on our own to the Old Wall to see the walled city in the daylight. The streets and over hanging timber balconies suffocated in vibrant colored flowers decorate the colonial style streets of Cartagena’s walled city. The entrances to the storefronts and homes are large and made of all types of material from metals to woods with such intricate designs and colors. Walking the cobblestone streets of the walled city was such a cool experience.

We had all now moved into the spectacular property which would be the venue for their wedding. KP and I were deemed the fittest out of the entire Tolliday and Ramirez families and were crowned with the highest of privileges with a bedroom on the fourth floor up three-spiral staircases. At times it almost felt like we were up in the clouds having to carry ourselves up what felt like Everest. Not to complain though – our room was very comfortable with a large bedroom and bathroom and a gorgeous view out across Cartagena from the rooftop.

Before Kelly’s birthday dinner and the booze bus through the walled city area, I took some time to venture through the enormous property. Each level had several different bedrooms, living spaces, huge kitchen with in-house staff and a refreshing pool amongst it all. In all honesty, this property was breathtaking and I don’t think my photos nor video will do this place justice!

After dining at the house for Kelly’s Birthday with her family and friends, we were out the door and into the booze bus for a night of partying. The bus toured around the walled city whilst we partook in sing-a-longs, dances and mandatory beverage sipping. Once the booze bus came to a stop, Kelly’s brothers and cousins took me under their wing and out of the walled city to a traditional Colombian bar to get the true experience. I don’t know what it is but I feel like Australians are not born with the gift of dance. Colombians on the other hand can really shake it. Needless to say we danced until the early hours of the morning to Colombian songs that I didn’t understand.


The wedding was the following day, and it was a slow rise for myself as my joints hurt from trying to ‘shake it’ in the club. I made my way down to get suited up with my brothers and dad and then participated in a mandatory beverage to celebrate his last moments as a single man. The wedding ceremony was beautifully spoken in both Spanish and English. My brothers fiancé looked amazing in her dress as she was walked down the aisle by her father. My brother’s lips quivered and his eyes twinkled. Their vows were both hilarious and loving confessing their true love for one and other.

After the ceremony it was time to get the party started with delicious food and beverages. We now changed into traditional Colombian clothing to wear for the remainder of the reception, which is basically white cloth pants and top. Extra light and breezy; however, for people like me it becomes transparent after ten minutes in the heat. Everyone at the wedding was dressed so nicely. The men looking sharp as ever, and the women out to impress in fabulous and colourful dresses.

After the ceremony Kelly and my brother were taken around the walled city by horse and chariot to arrive back at the property and announce their return with a huge entrance of fireworks and sparklers.


After a beautiful three-course dinner it was time for speeches. My brother’s speech was not only hilarious picking on every family member who made it across the world to be at their wedding, but he also performed his speech for a second time in Spanish to my amazement. Then came the cutting of the extravagant cake and the bride and groom’s first dance.


Next up – we were heading into the ‘Crazy Hour’ where the professional dancers arrived downstairs in the strangest of costumes and we were all up on our feet wearing masks and blowing whistles to the finest of Colombian dance tracks. Even my 84-year-old grandmother embraced this and would have been awarded the gold medal for her efforts. The rest of the night was honestly a little bit blurry perhaps due to the mandatory whiskey shots handed to me from Kelly’s family members. After partying the night away outside our elderly grandmother’s room until 8 am, it was time to climb into bed for some well deserved rest.



All in all, the wedding was spectacular. KP and I honestly felt like we were living out a real life movie. It was all so surreal in the most awesome way possible. Everything was so colorful and about having fun, dancing, celebrating and truly letting loose.

Congratulations to my brother and Kelly for finding one another, and thank you for making both KP and me a part of your wedding. You have added to our life experiences and this will be something we will never forget. I hope you like the short video.


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