Let’s go to Brazil

I recently officiated for a bride from Brazil and it led me to explore the wedding traditions of that vibrant country.

When we think about Brazil from our perspective here in the U.S. we often think of the excitement and their world-famous Carnival or Ipanema beach.But there is more to Brazil than that.

Brazil is the largest country in South and Latin America, with over 208 million people, making it the fifth-largest county by area and the sixth-largest by population. Although the rest of South and Latin America speak Spanish, Brazilians speak Portuguese.

Their wedding ceremonies are most often in the church, as most of the country practices Roman Catholicism, having the largest number of Catholics in the world. So, the ceremony is something many Americans would be familiar with.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since May 2013, and clearly those weddings will not be held in the church.  So, what other options are there? In Brazil, notaries can officiate marriages, so many people are becoming notaries and officiating weddings in many of the amazing locations around this beautiful country.

 It is the custom in Brazil for both brides and grooms to wear engagement rings. And as often the case here, couples usually do not see each other before the ceremony. The groom arrives at the church first and the bride is expected be a little late, to add to the drama, no doubt.

Bridesmaids each wear a different color, instead of matching colors, and the brighter, the better. Now, there’s that Brazilian flare! We’ve been mixing it up here lately, too. I love the idea of dresses that don’t exactly match but somehow work together.

photo: Vanessa Abbud

No Brazilian wedding celebration would be complete, without the great music of this country, which is famous for samba and bossa nova.
bem casadosis a delicious sweet treat (which looks a lot like a macaron) and is often given as a favor at Brazilian weddings, probably because the name translates to “good marriage.”

In keeping with the Brazilian spirit, a wedding is an elaborate and festive occasion, and gold shoes are popular for the bride. There is lots of pre-wedding pampering going on for the women.

The night before the wedding the groom’s tie is cut up in pieces and those pieces are auctioned off at the reception. This is the job of the best man, and the money is meant on help with the couple’s honeymoon.

Extra cash is also raised with that gold shoe belonging to the bride. She puts it in the center of the dance floor and guests drop money in, as a form of well-wishes, that the couple’s financial future but prosperous.

One old tradition is the ‘donkey taming.’ This entails a groom doing just that: taming a donkey. This shows he is trustworthy and responsible. I hope it doesn’t represent taming his bride, but historically that could be the case. Today it is done in fun, and donkeys are sometimes incorporated in weddings, where they can carry flowers, escort the bride, or other photo opportunities.  Please have your donkeys dressed up. Donkeys are adorable, but apparently ubiquitous in Brazil, so much so that they are sometimes considered a problem.

For the wedding I recently created, to honor the bride’s Brazilian heritage, the couple each read their vows in Portuguese and in English.

From white-sand beaches, rainforests and rhythm-filled metropolises, with its legendary biodiversity, Brazil would be an amazing place to visit, and have a wedding. Please take me with you!

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