If you are getting married with a Peruvian, planning to have a destination wedding in Peru, or have been invited to a Peruvian wedding, here is an overview of things you should know about weddings in Peru.
When a Peruvian couple decides to get married, a well known tradition is having a sort of engagement party, known as la pedida. Traditionally, the groom asks the bride’s parents permission to marry their daughter. Many Peruvian couples decide to have an intimate dinner with their parents and close family members to share the big news and, in a way, make sure they have their parent’s approval. Most modern couples don’t follow this tradition, but some might still host a lunch or dinner, usually financed by the bride’s parents, to announce their engagement to close friends and family. Still, others might choose to go all out, and arrange a party with food catering, drinks and music.
Peruvian civil ceremonies are simple and very straightforward. You have the option of getting married at the municipal building of your district, which usually takes fifteen to twenty minutes – followed by a toast – or pay a little extra to have a government official come to the location of your choice. In the case of couples that decide to not have a religious ceremony, they might have a wedding reception on the same day as the civil marriage.
Religious weddings are very common in Peru. The majority of couples have a private civil ceremony, and a few weeks or months later host a religious wedding, followed by a reception party. There are many beautiful churches and cathedrals in Peru, and some couples have to contact the administrators for as long as a year in advance in order to be able to reserve a spot. A religious ceremony in one of the biggest cathedrals can cost up to S./ 2,000 (approx. $600).
Visit our article Marrying a Peruvian in Peru to learn more about the requirements to have a Peruvian civil marriage and religious ceremony.
Location and Dress Code
Couples that decide to get married in Peru have the option of staying in Lima or choosing a location in other parts of the country. A great option for those looking to add an exotic vibe to their wedding is to host their event in the north coast of Peru. This is also a good idea for couples that want to host a smaller event, since not everyone can travel outside of Lima (or their home country) to attend a wedding. Cusco and the Sacred Valley are also beautiful locations for destination weddings in Peru. However, because it almost never rains in Lima, many couples prefer to get married here, where you can have a beautiful open air reception in a country club, a rented villa or the garden of a historical building near the center of the city.
If you have been invited to a wedding in Peru, make sure to know all the details regarding the dress code, time and possible weather conditions. Most Peruvian weddings are formal affairs, and failing to wear a proper attire could be seemed as rude. Generally, men should wear a tie, and women usually choose a dress. However, many non-traditional couples are opting for a more informal wedding dress code, especially those celebrating an intimate wedding with close friends and family, or a destination wedding in tropical places like the north coast, where the dress code might simply be white, loose cotton clothing. Just like being under dressed at a formal wedding can be inappropriate, overdressing for an informal celebration can be equally awkward, so don’t be shy about asking for advice.
Weddings in Peru are usually celebrated between November and February, and the weather conditions can range from cold to warm and humid, depending on the time of the year and location. It’s advisable to keep this in mind at the time of choosing your attire, especially guests coming from abroad.
Peruvians are famous for their unpunctuality, but generally the organizers plan for this and convoke their guests up to one hour before the wedding is set to begin. In spite of that, it’s not unusual to have the church fill up little by little as latecomers straggle in after the ceremony has begun. If you are going to a wedding in the countryside of Lima, keep in mind that it might be a two to four hours drive from the center of the city, depending on the location. Because people usually drink copiously at weddings, and end up leaving late and considerably tired, many guests decide to rent a van with a personal driver who can drive them safely to and from the wedding location. Some couples might provide transportation for their guests, so it is best to ask before making any arrangements.
Let’s talk about the moment everyone’s been waiting for, the wedding party! Peruvians are known for hosting some of the best wedding parties in Latin America. The reception usually begins with the first dance, which may be followed by a toast. Hors d’oeuvres are usually circulated, along with champagne and a table weighted down by cheese, meats and fruit is also common in most Peruvian weddings. There will most likely be an open bar with a wide variety of drinks, an exquisite lunch or dinner buffet, and a dessert table with delightful Peruvian sweet treats. The wedding cake could also be served as dessert, although this practice is becoming less common.
By far, one of the best Peruvian wedding traditions is la hora loca (the crazy hour). Once the guests are well fed, have been drinking and dancing for hours, and the reception seems to be coming to an end, it starts la hora loca, which is a thematic hour-long celebration with party music, professional dancers and animators, and colorful party paraphernalia. The themes for an hora loca are endless, and can range from the Soccer World Cup to Dragon Ball Z. Many multicultural weddings, where the bride or groom is from a foreign country, tend to have a more traditional hora loca, with Andean or Amazonian themes.
Of course, big affairs come at a big price, so it is important to have a clear idea of how much you are looking to spend. Most couples hire a catering and event planning service, which is in charge of the food, wedding cake, furniture (tables, chairs, bar and lounges), dance floor, flowers, decoration, bartenders, waiters, and cleaning staff. Keep in mind that alcoholic drinks don’t tend to be included in these packages.
The wedding venue usually takes a big chunk of the budget. Some country clubs and hotels offer wedding packages which include the catering and event planning service, so this might be a good option for those looking to save a little money by doing everything with one supplier. The photographers, DJ, and la hora loca are extra expenses as well. If you are planning your wedding from abroad, make sure to do your research and speak with other couples before choosing a wedding planner or supplier.
At the end of the day, the wedding budget will depend, for the most part, on whether you’re having a huge wedding (200 to 300 guests) or a more intimate celebration (50 to 100 guests). Small weddings can cost approx. $7,000 to $10,000. While biggest weddings can cost between $15,000 and $30,000, depending on the location and the exclusivity of the affair.
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