Bolivian Wedding Etiquette

by Rachelle Von Anders on November 22, 2010

in Special Occasion - Weddings, Wedding Etiquette

bolivian wedding etiquette

Heading to Bolivia for a wedding?  Make sure you respect their local tradition and culture, all while having a fantastic time in South America!  Our tips below will ensure you fit in to the wedding celebrations like a native!

  • Most Bolivians prefer to get married in December, which is in the middle of their summer (since they are in the southern hemisphere, their seasons are opposite to the USA).  Dress appropriately; even though the average temperature in the summer is 72° F, those months also see a lot of rainfall.
  • If the bride and groom are typical Bolivians, do not be surprised to hear they have lived together for up to three years prior to their wedding date and may already have children.  This is considered the norm, although it is frowned upon by those of a higher class.
  • In Bolivia, the minimum age to get married is 21, although this can be lowered to 16 for a man and 14 for a woman, with the parents’ permission.  And in the US, we think those getting married in their early twenties are too young!
  • There are two ceremonies for a Bolivian wedding: the church ceremony, which marries the pair in the eyes of God; and the state ceremony, where all of the legal papers are signed (this is the only ceremony recognized legally and it must be completed for the marriage to be “real).
  • The wedding ceremonies are followed by a three day party – you are in for a lot of fun and Latin dancing!
  • Do not turn down any offer of food or drink during the wedding celebrations.  Generosity and abundance are to be demonstrated during times of momentous occasions, such as a wedding, as they often cannot be at other times.  Be prepared to eat lots of beef, chicken, pork and fresh vegetables.  Be particularly grateful for beef, bottled beer and cane alcohol, all of which are culturally important.
  • If you are getting married in Bolivia, ensure you have checked with the consulate so you file everything appropriately to make sure your marriage is legal.  Also, you might want to consider the following wedding favors:
    • An Awayo key ring – this is a Bolivian textile full of bright colors.  It makes a good souvenir, and, it’s practical!
    • A small bag of locally grown coffee – it will make your reception smell amazing!

As always, when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, be aware of your surroundings and the behavior of those around you.  Mimic them, when possible, and always be respectful (and apologetic, if you make a mistake!).  Now, let’s go samba!

More Sources: Wedding Rituals in Bolivia

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