The narrator tells the story of Bayardo San Roman, the bridegroom of Angela Vicario. Bayardo arrives in August, six months before his eventual marriage. He is about thirty years old, but seems younger because he has a slim waist and golden eyes. He says he has come to find someone to marry.
He first sees Angela when she is crossing the town square with her mother, dressed in clothes of mourning; the two of them are carrying baskets of artificial flowers. The next time Bayardo sees her, she is singing out the numbers to a raffle at a town event. He buys all of the raffle tickets and wins a music box inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which he then has delivered to her house as a gift. She never discovers how he found out it was her birthday.
The Vicarios are a family "of scant resources." Poncio Vicario is a goldsmith, but has lost his sight from doing so much fine work. Purisima del Carmen, Angela's mother, had been a schoolteacher until she married. Angela is the youngest and the prettiest of the family. Pura Vicario wants Bayardo San Roman to identify himself properly; to gain her approval, he introduces his whole family. The family drives to the village in a Model T Ford. Bayardo's mother, Alberta Simonds, is a mulatto woman from Curacao, who in her youth had been proclaimed the most beautiful woman in the Antilles. He has two young sisters, and his father is famous: General Petronio San Roman, hero of the civil wars of the past century.
Angela does not want to marry Bayardo. Their engagement only lasts four months. Bayardo asks Angela what house she likes best, and she replies that she liked the farmhouse belonging to the widower Xius, which is on a windswept hill and overlooks the purple anemones of the marshes. The widower insists that the house wasn't for sale, but Bayardo keeps offering more and more money until Xius gives in.
Nobody knows that Angela isn't a virgin. They have a huge wedding, with extravagant gifts and days and nights of dancing and revelry. The narrator says that he and his brother, Luis Enrique, along with Cristo Bedoya, were with Santiago Nasar all the time, at the church and after at the festival. The four of them had grown up together, and it was hard to believe that one of them could have had such a big secret.
The narrator has a confused memory of the festival—he remembers proposing to marry Mercedes Barcha as soon as she finished primary school. At six in the afternoon, the bride and groom take their leave and drive to their new house. The narrator, Luis, Cristo and Santiago all went to Maria Alejandrina Cervantes' house, where the Vicario brothers also went and were singing and drinking.