Couples and their families often hand craft many aspects of the wedding day purely because this is cheaper – although there is a sense that handcrafted favors are more meaningful souvenirs for the guests too!
Often times an engagement occurs because a couple in love just decide they want to get married ~ no elaborate or contrived proposal, just a simple, mutual (and just as romantic) decision to spend the rest of their lives together!
Once the decision’s been made, involving family and friends in the preparations is a must. In Argentina, the mothers of both bride and groom take a leading role in the arrangements, although it’s still customary for the parents of the bride to be the ones to pay for the majority of the wedding expenses! Sometimes a girl’s father will be asked for her hand in marriage as a courtesy, but usually it’s straight on to the arrangements. An engagement ring isn’t usually part of the deal, although the couple may exchange wedding rings, which they wear on the right hand until the wedding day, when it swaps across to the left hand.
With a lot of Argentina’s wedding practices reflecting the beliefs and customs of many other Latin cultures, particularly when it comes to family and these wonderful celebrations which come as rites of passage within and between families, it’s extremely common for many of the couple’s relatives to become active participants in an Argentine wedding, especially when that hand-made preference creeps in too!
Everyone’s happy to be involved: from seamstress aunties to make the dress, fabulous cooks within the family making the cake and relatives with musical skills providing the music, to green-fingered relations popping off to the massive flower markets of Buenos Aires in the early hours of the wedding morning to buy flowers which they then transform into bouquets, arrangements and corsages which will all be a part of the day! As such, a wedding in Argentina doesn’t just have a hand-made focus, but also a hands-on one, with as many people being involved in the arrangements as possible.
Argentine Wedding Ceremonies
The predominant religion in Argentina is Catholicism, although many Argentineans of catholic faith do not necessarily attend church apart from the solemnization ceremonies which occur throughout life – including weddings! Other religions practised in Argentina include Judaism and Protestant faiths, so a church wedding will involve the customary rites of the relevant faith. Civil legal ceremonies are also conducted.
In any of the relevant faith ceremonies, the wedding rites take part within a special mass or sermon, which can be very long. Some Argentine wedding services can be up to 2 hours long but at the other end of the scale, some can be very, very brief!
Civil and protestant-based wedding services can involve parents giving their blessing or witnesses and invited friends dedicating songs or poems to the couple.
It’s not customary for there to be bridesmaids at an Argentinean wedding, although many weddings include ring bearers and / or flower girls.
Many Argentine wedding ceremonies may be conducted quite late in the day. This can be quite common as the wedding celebrations can start late at night!
Like Belgian marriages, an Argentinean church ceremony is not legally binding. A couple should have a civil marriage service, which is the legal solemnization, which usually takes place the day before a church ceremony. Many of the civil venues used for these were specially built in the 1900s and can include beautiful parks and gardens for photographs to be taken afterwards. It’s customary for both families and two special friends (who act as witnesses) to attend the civil ceremony.
The Argentinean Wedding Reception ~ making a night of it!
As above, often the wedding celebrations don’t properly begin until quite late at night – often around 8 or 9pm. However, once they do get going, there’s often no stopping them and amongst the food that families will plan for the wedding party, breakfast the following day is also on the list!
The main reception buffet (which has often been prepared by many of the family) is a cold dinner / buffet with a full range of delicate sandwiches with varied ingredients including local specialities of fine fish and special meats such as prosciutto. Like the Norwegians with their cake at weddings, an Argentinean wedding feast would not be complete without a full table (or two) of sweets, including cakes, pastries, cream bombs and chocolate mini cones.
Speeches aren’t a general feature of Argentine wedding receptions, although there are plenty of toasts to the couple, using champagne or sidra, very popular local cider.
Generally, Argentinean weddings and parties are enjoying something of a trend in revivalist “themed” weddings. For example, the whole ceremony and party might take place at an Estancia (big farm) venue and include many of the most popular traditional activities, such as feasting on Argentinean barbeque, dancing and singing to guitar songs and playing horse riding games.
A couple may also hold their wedding reception at one of the family homes or at a hotel or ballroom venue, if it’s a more urban area and the families are a little more affluent!
Argentinean Wedding Attire
An Argentinean bride tends to wear a white wedding dress, although this may vary depending on her faith. Generally though, all the accoutrements of Catholic and Christian wedding attire might be expected, including that white dress, full veil and bouquet. Underneath it all, an Argentinean bride will commonly wear a blue petticoat as her “something new,”
Throwing rice or birdseed as the couple exit their church or civil venue is a popular custom, and symbolizes fertility.
There are no wedding attendants for the bride and groom and each is accompanied down the aisle by one of their parents: the mother of the groom and the father of the bride.
Argentinean brides have their own variation of the bridal garter game. The bride will in fact wear several garters and will give these away throughout the party to her single girlfriends.
The wedding cake takes center stage at an Argentine wedding, not just for a cake cutting ceremony, but also for a little game which takes place prior to the cutting! Several ribbons, with hidden trinkets at one end, are attached to the cake. All of the single girls pull a ribbon each and the female who finds herself holding a ribbon with a ring at the other end is deemed to be the next bride-to-be!
If you’re attending an Argentinean wedding, be aware that party time is also present time! Yes, it’s customary for all the presents to be opened early on in the party and in front of all the guests.