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How They MetAs a bilingual girl growing up in California, who often spent time in Hungary with her extended family, Agnes developed a love for travel and learning about different cultures, so it’s no surprise that she earned her graduate degree in international law and later moved to Madrid – knowing no one there – to perfect a third language skill and further her career. With time Agnes felt at home in Madrid, and one destined night, Agnes and Julio, a Madrid native, were waiting for their respective friends at the packed bar of Maricastaña, a restaurant in the Malasaña barrio of the city. They struck up a conversation to pass the time, and the rest is history.
The ProposalIn October of 2013, Agnes gave Julio a trip to the Italian island of Sardinia as a present, fittingly, during a long weekend when Spain celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. They spent the second day of their three-day trip zipping along the crescent coast of Cala Gonone in their tiny rental car, stopping on the empty pebbled beaches to have picnics and admire the cerulean blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and eventually made their way to Orosei for the night. That evening, while enjoying an amazing Cannonau (a red wine local to Sardinia) in their hotel room, Julio put an Italian playlist on, and Agnes became so overwhelmed with happiness that she began to cry. Julio knew this was the perfect moment to propose, so he asked Agnes, “¿Agi, quieres casarte conmigo?” She wiped away tears and said “si” in a matter-of-fact way, because she misunderstood and thought his question was referring to a general desire to marry at some point in the future. Agnes saw the look of disappointment on Julio’s face, and he asked her again. Agnes smiled and said “si”, then Julio put his hands around her face and said “Agi, I’m asking you to marry me,” as “Senza Fine” played in the background, and she started crying again because she finally understood what Julio was really asking her.
Julio is one of five children in a family with dozens of cousins, so they decided to have their wedding in Madrid, where the least number of guests would have to travel great distances.
The CeremonyEven though Agnes has friends and family all over the world, it didn’t stop them from coming to Madrid to celebrate: from Hawaii to New Jersey, and Denmark to Hungary, guests were happy to travel great distances to share this special day with the happy couple. Over the years Agnes has visited many European churches with her family, and she’s developed preferences for certain architectural styles. Gothic churches are her favorite, so it was easy to choose the impressive San Jeronimo el Real as the location for their wedding ceremony, as Madrid is a relatively new city and doesn’t have too many buildings surviving from the Gothic period. Being in the city center of Madrid, right across from the Museo Prado, San Jeronimo was also an ideal location as it was easy for their guests to get to. The beautiful ceremony consisted of a full wedding mass, and trilingual programs were provided so that all guests could follow along with the ceremony, which was in a mix of Spanish, English, and a little Hungarian. The bride wore an elegant lace dress and cathedral veil, and the sunshine-yellow flowers in her bouquet and flower girls’ dresses accented the happiness of the day. “One of my favorite moments,” says Agnes, “was walking into the church with my mother toward the altar, and seeing Julio's smile framed by the smiles of my friends and family on either side of the aisle.”
The ReceptionAs if the church wasn’t aweinspiring enough, wedding guests were then invited to a reception at nearby Casino de Madrid, a behemoth of an architectural gem that was constructed in 1910 as a gathering place for the Spanish social elite. Cocktails and appetizers were served in the patio de honor, which was followed by an incredible feast in the equally impressive royal hall. The lunch featured a “XXIst century” Spanish omelette, gilt-head bream, and young lamb terrine with juniper and cru apple sause – each paired with a different wine. The entire menu was designed by Head Chef Paco Roncero (two Michelin stars), who trained under Ferrán Adriá at El Bulli. The highlight, however, was the wedding cake – ”The Best Chocolate Cake in the World” – which boasted layers of crunchy meringue, separated by chocolate mousse and covered in a rich chocolate glaze. Julio and Agnes had devoured this Portuguese bolo do chocolate together on one of their first dates at a now-closed restaurant. They called the restaurant and as luck would have it, they were still able to provide the cake for their wedding. After the feasting, guests were escorted downstairs to the Casino’s nightclub to dance the night away. Agnes and Julio began their first dance as husband and wife with a slow waltz to “The Blue Danube,” and about 30 seconds later broke into Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” to invite everyone to the dance floor and get the party started. While their guests were tearing up the dance floor, the bride and groom snuck away to take a few photos in the restaurant where they first met. … but a Spanish wedding doesn’t end there! After the DJ played the last song, buses were waiting outside to bring guests (who had the stamina to keep celebrating) to the after party at Fortuny, a hip restaurant with a romantic terrace setting that features a full bar under trees with twinkling lights. It was the perfect way to cap off a wonderful day.
The HoneymoonThe Spanish government gives 15 days to newlyweds, so Agnes and Julio decided to take advantage of this and spend part of their honeymoon giving back to others. After doing some research they decided to volunteer at Daya Nivasa, a home “for the abandoned and differently abled children and elderly” founded by Mother Theresa in 1985, located just outside of Kandy, Sri Lanka. Agnes and Julio stayed with a host family about 50 minutes away from Daya Nivasa, getting to the center via two buses, and slept in one of their two bedrooms. The parents and two children slept together in one bed in another room, and they shared everything they had with Agnes and Julio, and made them feel very welcome despite the language barrier. They enjoyed singing with the women of Daya Nivasa, learning Makaton sign with the residents, and watching them rehearse a play. “It was an emotionally difficult experience,” says Agnes, “as we felt great compassion for the people who had been abandoned by their families and then adopted by the Sisters of Charity, but knew that the contact we had with them in such a short time is just a drop in the bucket. The children and infants, especially, need care and attention, and we weren't sure if we, as just two people in a revolving door of volunteers, made as much of a positive difference in their lives as we wanted to.” The couple spent their first week in Sri Lanka volunteering, and then took some much-deserved time for themselves. Agnes and Julio went all over the southern and western coast of Sri Lanka, visiting Mirissa, Weligama, Unawatuna, Galle, Hikkaduwa, and Colombo. They spent their days walking along the beach holding hands, eating fresh fish just feet away from where the waves stopped, walking around the Galle Fort to find the perfect place to see the sun set, getting from village to village via tuk tuk, and enjoying the sounds of downpours from the comfort of their dry room.
They spent their days walking along the beach holding hands, eating fresh fish just feet away from where the waves stopped, walking around the Galle Fort to find the perfect place to see the sun set ...