The Colombian Wedding

The Colombian Wedding (Traditions and Culture)

Colombia. Ah yes, we know you’ve heard of Colombia, and we probably know what you think about it too!

The Netflix series Narcos’ did bring Colombia to the public eye, but I guess that was for all the wrong reasons. Now people who don’t know that the country has moved on from all the drug-related violence in the 90s, may also not know that mostly, Columbia is now a safe country.

You’re probably not easily going to run into gang-oriented violence on the streets. Not every white-suited person is going to have a golden gun concealed within. Not everyone is going to be on, or be selling cocaine. Remember, Colombians hate these stereotypes. And yes, (for better or worse) not every Columbian woman is going to look like Sofia Vergara from the iconic Modern Family series.

But contrary to all this, Columbia is a beautiful country, with rich wildlife and deeply rooted cultural traditions. We’re going to discuss one of the most cherished aspects of their culture – namely, the big festive Columbian wedding!

Here’s a list of the Colombian wedding traditions and culture

The Serenade

Since most Columbians are Catholics by religion (though only some 25-30% practice it diligently), there are some similarities they share with yet other countries that feature Catholic weddings. The priest is one of the most crucial figures, of course, and quite a few marriage approvals run through the church, being subjected to its rules and regulations.

Before the wedding, the groom will surprise his soon-to-be wife with a serenade, while under her window, or in an intimate space (usually her family home). This romantic gesture is informal but signals the beginning of the wedding nevertheless.

The bridal shower will also occur before the wedding, where the mother will give her daughter cute monogrammed items to take with her to her new home. The bride and groom also get a lot of silver gifts – plates, platters, candle-stands and so on.

The priest here is required to bless the couple and gives them the go-ahead so that the marriage ceremonies may begin.

Of Godfathers and Godmothers

We all know the concept of the ‘maid of honor’ and the ‘best man’ at the wedding, thanks to the excess of general Hollywood romcoms and sitcoms – but those are replaced with the cooler ‘Godfather’ and ‘Godmother’ here, which are, of course, chosen by the groom and the bride.

Flowers Traditions

Unfortunately, if you were chosen to be a Godparent, your job would not be to command a contingent of loyal, slick criminals but to do something in a personal capacity for the groom/bride – which is basically to serve as their personal marriage counselors and pseudo-therapists.

Another thing to understand is that grandmothers rule the roost in most Colombian households, and this matriarch will need you to be at attention if you’re ever part of her ‘get-things-done’ squad. Stay tuned and attentive.

The White Knights and Ladies

Of course, if you attend a Colombian wedding, it’s no use if you don’t look the part. The bride herself will be wearing a mantilla (a mantle) that will shroud her from the evil gaze, and her retinue will be in their wedding finery.

Shoe Traditions

The men, on the other hand, are required to wear the Guayabera suit – these are entirely made of white cotton. Well, it’s your turn to look slick (don’t actually carry the golden gun) and top it off it a fedora! If you plan to smoke, well, we don’t need to tell you that a cigar would be in order to complete the look.

Las Flores, Las Arras, And The Candle Ceremony

The Colombian Red Rose just drips the quintessence of that color, and Colombia itself is known for its sheer variety of flowers both commercially and otherwise. The bride’s mantilla will be combined with flowers, which symbolizes purity. She is to emulate the Virgin Mary on this day, so this is all in order with the custom. Most Colombian weddings are extremely floral – just a heads up.

The ceremony entitled Las Arras is also an enormously important custom before the groom and the bride ‘seal the deal’, so to speak. Here, the priest will bless 13 holy coins (symbolizing the Apostles of Jesus) and the groom will exchange this with his bride. While this may seem strangely transactional, it is not a situation of ‘I am paying for the bride’ but rather, ‘what is mine is now yours’. This also indicates the groom’s willingness and readiness to begin life anew as a married man.

feeling macho

This is usually followed by a Candle ceremony if the wedding is high on tradition. The bride and the groom light their individual candles. Then, they romantically proceed to light the third candle together with those` and blow out their own candles in the light of the third one. This takes their bond to the spiritual level, where they are now joined as one for the rest of their lives.

Feeling Macho?

There’re a few weird traditions that the men have after the fiesta commences. Of course, Colombians do have some mean dancing skills that you’ll encounter. Some common dances are the well-known salsa, but there’s also the Merengue, the Cumbia, and the Villano – all of which will make you feel quite out of rhythm if you’re not a born dancer, or…Colombian.

But beyond the feasting and the drinking, the men take off their belts. The one with the largest belt (or the most generous belly) is the “winner”. Celebrate that daddy fat!

There is also a shoe tradition where all the single men at the wedding will put their shoes under the bride’s dress. In a classic twist of fate, the bride will then pick a shoe, which will allegedly bless the owner with the honor of being the next groom!


While each Colombian wedding has its own theme, the general custom is to keep partying well beyond the wee hours of the night – and then reminisce about it in the morning. The next day, you will gather in the same hacienda (estate) and reflect on the madness that was the night.

So well, if you do get invited to a Colombian wedding, you’d be idiotic to turn down the chance – and by all means, consider doing your wedding Colombian style if you like the vibe!

See Also:
Malay Wedding Guide.

About the Author


Monica is a moniker for our relationship expert. She's been working as a relationship counselor for over 10 years, and over time, has sharpened her personality. Unlike typical counselors, Monica is not afraid to use a harsher method to resolve certain issues that demand it. Even if she's a virtual entity now, she can still see into your soul.

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