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Paraguayan Weddings

On Valentine’s Day, we had the joy of attending the wedding of Sandra and Anastacio, young leaders in the church. Sandra is my assistant with Children of Promise and Anastacio, apart from his carpentry job, has a popular youth-focused radio program every night at 8:00 on our station.

We’ve been to quite a few weddings, and these are some of the uniquenesses of southern Paraguayan wedding celebrations from our North American culture:

1. Nothing is fancy. Emphasis is placed on the act of marriage and not on the decorations or food.
2. It is not an expectation that parents help pay for expenses. Most families just make it each month with regular expenses and cannot afford to pay for eleborate feasts. Most couples have to spend months saving for their own wedding.
3. Borrow as much as possible. Many times wedding dresses are borrowed 5-10 times, because few women can afford their own. Flowers, decorations, shoes and ties (Norb loans out his ties often...since he never wears them!) are commonly borrowed items. This is great stewardship and we think it makes sense.
4. Invites are delivered personally. Because Paraguay doesn’t have a trustworthy mail system, we’ve always received invitations (to any event) personally. It’s so nice to receive a simple invitation from the couple themselves.
5. Most couples do not have a honeymoon. This is a luxury that’s foreign to Paraguayans. After paying for the wedding, the couple spends their gift money (if received) on needed items for the home.
6. All wedding services are paid in cash! This is a great way to start a marriage...debt free!
7. There are no gift registries. A few weeks before the wedding, I asked Sandra what she needed, and she gave me a funny look and said, “You don’t ask that! I’m just happy with whatever I get!” Nobody gives impractical gifts. Only items such as dishes, towels, sheets, pots and silverware are given...nothing frivolous or romantic.
8. Weddings are at night. Even though they are morning people, Paraguayans love weddings that start at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. They love to celebrate until the wee hours of the morning with good Paraguayan and Polka music (often with live bands).
9. Christians don’t dance. In this culture, it’s not appropriate for Christians to dance, so weddings have a nice reception, with music, sans dancing.
10. Except the Waltz. I take that back. The only dance that’s accepted, is the Blue Danube Waltz, with the bride and her father (if present), her husband and relatives. Interestingly, it’s a tradition in our area, probably because of the heavy European influence in southern Paraguay.

In this wedding, the cakes were made by a lady in the church, the decorations were also done by the bride and her friends. The suit and wedding dress were borrowed. Everyone in the church was asked to bring a dish to pass, so the dinner was a church potluck!

I love the way Paraguayans rally together for a wedding. It makes sense that couples should focus on a simple celebration, not a gala event.

Would you like a Paraguayan style wedding?


  1. Great insights again on the culture. Its always fun to hear your perspective.

  2. Hi, I cam to you through Brenda's blog. I love what you said about the weddings. I'm originally from Denmark, and now live in California. We have 3 sons, and I can't stand the way weddings have gone overboard here in California. It's so materialistic, and when you think the US has one in two marriages fail, it seems so ridiculous. Perhaps there should me more love and less money involved. Thanks for a great post.

  3. I'd love a wedding like that, except that I don't want another wedding or a different husband!

    I actually wanted a simple wedding with sliced meat and cheese and buns for the reception, but I was soundly refused by my mother and mother-in-law. Instead, we ate a nice dinner sitting at a head table instead of mingling with our guests and munching on sandwiches and cake.

    Next time.... next time, I'm throwing an outdoor potluck picnic for a wedding! Simple, fun, easy.


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