I’m so excited to share my experience at my first Chilean wedding this past weekend. It was quite different from an American wedding. Throughout this post I’ll point out the moments that stood out to me, and the differences between American and Chilean weddings.
The Invitations and Presents:
When you are invited to a Chilean wedding, there are no ‘Save the Dates’ and the invitations come just a month of two beforehand. Even if you’re not engaged or married, you get to bring a date. I chose not to bring a date, because I don't know many boys here. I didn't want to have some guy I barely knew following me around all night. In terms of the presents, the bride and groom register for their gifts online. You are supposed to send your gift before the wedding. You can go to the store, and pay for the gift there. The store then sends the gift to the bride and groom, you do not take it with you. The couple can also choose to take a giftcard instead of the gift. So, when you arrive to the wedding you, receive the thank you card.
The ceremony was at 7, so we arrived right at 7. Since I was alone, I awkwardly greeted the groom and the parents as I entered the church because everyone else was doing it. The church was amazing! The procession started at about 7:25. I was shocked at how quick it was because in Chile, they don’t have bridal parties or groomsmen. Just the flower girls, groom, parents and the bride. They also don't have rehearsal dinners. Chileans find our rehearsal dinners strange. The people stood for the whole procession, so we were already standing when the bride walked in.
^^ The beautiful bride, Javiera
^^ I'm in love with her veil thing
The ceremony was very long. It was a full Catholic mass. There were many song breaks where we all stood there and listened to a live musician. They gave communion to the people at the end. One thing that I didn’t like as much as American weddings was the lack of romance. There was no moment when they said “you may now kiss your bride”. My Chilean friend said that this is because they are so conservative here. Kissing your bride on the lips is not taken well here. So, when they announced it, the groom kissed her on the cheek.
The other Ceremonies:
Unlike the U.S., Chileans have a ceremony prior to the wedding where they legally get married at what we consider to be City Hall. Best friends and immediate family attend this ceremony and they have a big dinner afterwards. This is when they get the rings. This ceremony is about a month and a half before the actual wedding.
The bride and groom both have the usual bachelor and bachelorette parties, except sometimes they have more than one. If the bride has different groups of friends for example, she will have more than one.
The engagement ring is always silver. The wedding band is always gold. This is a tradition of Chile.
My co-workers weren’t lying when they told me I would see a little bit of everything in terms of clothing at the wedding. I was concerned on what kind of dress I should wear. There were girls in fancy gowns, girls in short club dresses, Grandmas in cocktail dresses, there was even a lady with an extravagant hat like they had in the royal wedding. The guys wore suits.
Since this was a very large wedding, it is common for not everyone to be invited to the dinner. 400 people were invited to the wedding, but not everyone was invited to the dinner because it is too expensive. We went to the ceremony, and then went to a friend’s house to have some food and drinks and returned for the party at 12:00am. According to my co-workers, this wedding was very fancy. Javi (the bride) told me she knew about 100 of the 400 people invited. Her stepmother invited the majority of the people. It is normal to not know everyone at your wedding. It definitely felt like a big show at times.
^^ There were hundreds of floating candles. It must really suck to light those...
The reception was in the same location as the ceremony and dinner. It was at an old university -it felt like we were in a castle or at Hogwarts! Here in Chile, the wedding reception begins at 12am and goes until 5am. You can’t even imagine the amount of money they spend on these weddings. The bar is open all night, so the young people get very drunk. My favorite part was throughout the night, the servers would bring out soup, mini sandwiches, French fries and hot dogs to help sober us up.
We left the party at about 5am and arrived home when the sun was rising. I slept the whole day on Sunday. I’m now a true Chilean.
^^ Some of our first grade team
^^ 4am hotdogs, just what the doctor ordered
After the wedding, the bride and groom headed off on their honeymoon. They will go to Mexico and Cuba for 2 weeks. The school gives 2 weeks for the honeymoon. When they return, the couple will immediately move in together. It is not well received to move in with your boyfriend before getting married. Again with the conservative and traditional views.
There were aspects I loved about Chilean weddings and others that I didn’t care for. All in all, it was quite an experience and I had a great time partying until the sun came up! I hope I'll have another opportunity to attend another Chilean wedding!