In general terms, weddings in South America are organized according to the couple’s priorities, but it is usual that the first point to be defined is the date, a detail that often depends more on the availability of the chosen temple than on the will or preferences of the couple. Subsequently, the venue is chosen and, finally, the dress.
How religion and the couple’s age affect the preparations
Religious beliefs influence wedding ceremonies more in some countries than in others, but in general, in Latin America religion has a great influence on the wedding celebration.
According to the 2017 Pontifical Yearbook, published in June 2018, America is the continent with the largest number of Catholics, since 57.5% of the world’s total are in South America.
In Colombia there is a general tendency for the search for the dress to last between 3 and 6 months. In Panama, religion plays an important role and determines how long before the wedding the dress will be purchased: in the Hebrew community the dress is bought between 2 and 4 months before the wedding, in the Christian, between 4 and 8 months before and in the Muslim, it is usually between 3 to 6 months before the ceremony.
Similarly we know according to the ICEX study: The Ceremonial Dress Market in Mexico (2017), that 89.3% of the Mexican population is Catholic, and that that also influences their celebrations and traditions.
Age is also a key factor. In Panama, the average age for marriage in women is between 23 and 28 and in men between 25 and 33, but for example in Argentina, women usually marry between 28 and 38.
The age at which marriage is contracted is conditioned by the religion that the bride and groom profess: at Jewish weddings, the tendency is to marry even younger, at approximately 21 years of age.
When do couples get married and how long does the celebration last?
In Colombia, the key months for the celebration of weddings are June and December, since they are the periods of the year in which the population usually take vacations from work . In addition, it is the moment in which many companies pay their workers bonuses, providing the population the necessary money to pay for and manage the tying of the knot. It is clearly different in Argentina, where the celebrations take place at two periods of time, either between February and April or from September to November.
On the other hand, in Panama, wedding season is concentrated between the months of December and March, summertime in the country during which the thermal sensation is cooler and more pleasant and the probability of precipitation is reduced. Vicky Luján, bridal expert, explains that “Once you have chosen the place where the ceremony and the subsequent reception will be held, you define the style and creative concept that it will have, before the selection of the dress even.”
As far as Mexico is concerned, seasonality is relative, since weddings are held throughout the year. Even so, spring and autumn see a big rise in the number of celebrations. A wedding in Mexico can last from 2 to 3 days, depending on the number of events that the bride and groom decide to organize and in what format: if it is a destination wedding where the objective is to celebrate the commitment by traveling to a place other than the one of origin, or if it is to be a local ceremony. This is one of the countries in Latin America with the highest number of annual marriages, with a total of 501,298 registered in 2018 (source: National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico).
Colombian weddings do not run on for days , as is usual in other Latin American countries, although the party lasts until 8 am the next day. In short, it is a long but one day event.
With regard to the place chosen, Cartagena is a city with a growing tendency to host this type of event due to its attractive walls and its warm climate. Next, we will find Bogotá, where haciendas on the outskirts are usually the preferred venue.
Panamanian celebrations differ according to the space selected, either outdoors or indoors. Those celebrated outdoors will begin around 5 in the afternoon and will last until dawn. On the other hand, those that take place in a hall, will do so at 9 pm, once the religious ceremony is over.
Brazil also gives great importance to the reception which despite lasting only one day, goes on for up to 12 hours. The majority are dinners, buffet style, where you can enjoy the exquisite dishes and drinks from beginning to end of the event. A curiosity is that in Brazil it is not customary to make speeches at the wedding.
At all of these celebrations, music is indispensable, many times including even live performances.
The role of the wedding planner
In Latin America, wedding planners are highly valued by the bride and groom, as they rely on their direct contacts with suppliers. Their role is increasingly recognized and a boom in the profession is expected.
The wedding planner suggests styles of dresses, which shops to buy from or which professionals to take advice from. For the purchase of the dress, they choose trusted stores since it is one of the most important elements. The role of these professionals may include the organization of the engagement party and the wedding reception.
In Mexico, as in Colombia, wedding planners are a relatively new phenomenon, appearing in the market about 5 years ago, and the full contracting of their services is associated with brides with high purchasing power. On the other hand, it is common to hire the services of a wedding planner solely for the wedding day, where they are known as ‘wedding coordinators’. This figure ensures that everything goes according to the plan that the couple have prepared and presented them.
In Panama it is common for the wedding planner to have very active participation from the bride and groom, who are involved in the preparations to ensure that the celebration reflects their personality. Even so, the wedding planner does not participate in the purchase of the dress, which is considered an intimate and personal moment. The brides visit different bridal boutiques in the city, being advised by the stylists who work in them. They usually visit only the stores that offer the style of dress that they have previously decided to wear at their wedding.
In the bridal boutiques a personalized service is offered to each of the clients, champagne is opened and music sets the mood. These stores usually receive three bridal visits a day, accompanied by the mother, sister, bridesmaid and godmother.
In Brazil the figure of the wedding planner is highly valued. In this country the wedding planner suggests which stylists the bride should use and they will be the ones who advise on what type of dress the bride should wear.
Many of these wedding planners work with international designers and 60% of clients buy dresses designed by them. While at the moment they do not make up a majority, because they currently represent only 40% of brides who are advised by a wedding planner, it is important to take into account the growing trend of making the dress to the taste of each client: more and more brides request the preparation of a dress designed according to their preferences.
1. The wedding period is concentrated over the warmer months in each country as well as when bonuses are paid – June and December.
2. Weddings usually last a day, but in some cases the celebration can last up to 3 days.
3. The wedding planner, despite being a highly valued figure, has different market penetration and functions depending on the country.