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What to expect at a Latin Wedding

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Got an invitation to your friends wedding and you have to travel to central or south America, better yet at home but you know the wedding will have a latin spin. Here is what any Gringo needs to know.

First off prepare for a late start time a matter what the invitation says the wedding is most likely going to start 30 minutes to an hour late. Does not matter if the wedding is in the States or Latin America.

Wedding begins with Full Mass

Wedding begins with Full Mass

MASS Catholic mass is most likely going to be your first stop a church close to the family where the nuptials will begin. Prepare your booty it might be a long one many latin american weddings I’ve been includes full mass and communion and often in Spanish.  I completely recommend having a cocktail before attending, not something I normally would say about church. I’ve never really had the balls to skip the mass and just go straight to the party but you’ll see many people that do. If you do attend the church is beautifully decorated with more flowers than imaginable. Many families even plan their Mass the same evening and the same church and split the cost of the flowers.

After, there is the typical long wait before the reception even other weddings I’ve been to with non Latin people this wait exists… lots of pictures preparing for the reception who knows what else they’re doing but it takes a very long time. I suggest using this time to get completely ready it’s going to be a long night. Take a nap, relax.  

DRESS Women be ready in a long formal dress, just a warning you may feel out of place with a short cocktail dress. You will see people in the most trendy and fashion forward colors and makeup and hair. Personally I would rather be a little over dresses that under dressed…go for more eye liner.   Men are usually asked to wear a suit and tie if not a tuxedo.  Check with someone close to the bridal family to see what the dress code will be.  That adage of look at the invitation does not always pay off, ask!

PARTY As the reception begins please go to your table numbers and assigned seats it can get really hairy when uninvited guests show

get ready for a performance

get ready for a performance

up as it often does and switch the table numbers.(yes I know that sounds rude but it happens sometimes) There is usually a formal dinner seated the table. Use your Best Manners, everyone knows everyone! Trust me you don’t want to be the topic of discussion later.

After dinner the dancing begins could be a variety of Salsa, Merengue, Mariachi Everyone will get up and dance, don’t be left sitting there have some fun. The attempt is noted and you will be the fun gringos. All the same good stuff, father daughter dance, the first dance all that. Take it up a notch someone will sing, bride, groom, guest, that is always a favorite part for me, maybe because I’m terrified of singing in front of people but the multitude of latin weddings I have been to I have never been let down someone will sing.

Gringa Chef navigates the "crazy hour"

Gringa Chef navigates the “crazy hour”

HORA LOCA All Latin wedding have this is the crazy hour- when you start to see costumes hats, sunglasses you name it you don’t really know what’s coming. Grab something and get dressed up, run around and see everyone else looking silly too.  Each couple is a little different also depending on where they are from what the theme will be. Sometimes the music  changes. Oh and more food and more shots!

THE PARTY NEVER ENDS. To be honest I have never actually seen the end of a latin wedding I could not tell you. I usually politely excuse myself between 2-4AM. If you know a lot of people there and feel like they will drag you into another hour, just slip out. The guests often take the center pieces, yes I know what you are thinking I was shocked myself the first time I saw the party slowly dismantling. When you really think about what are you going to do with all those flowers anyway?… the bride lets someone remember you special day for that next week.

Go to sleep maybe or maybe not, the party gets going again for breakfast/brunch the next morning. Everyone looks blow dried and beautiful again. Not sure the secret on that one, but I can tell you if you have been invited to a wedding and the family is latino or marrying into a latino family you can expect some variation of this pattern. My best advise is be ready to eat and drink and stay up later. Say yes! And send a great gift the party is well worth it, don’t be cheap!