Yesterday, day 71 of my Brazilian Challenge, we attended a wedding. This was the first wedding, outside of my own and my brother-in-law’s, that I’ve been to in Brazil, definitely the only wedding since we’ve moved.
One of the cultural differences between U.S. and Brazilian weddings is the way they approach the bridesmaids. In the U.S., the series of activities surrounding the bridesmaid is a ceremony in itself. Not only is the bride faced with making bridesmaid selections that will not cause any uproar from friends or family, but she must select a dress style and color that will suit all of her female attendants. Some brides figure it is their day and simply select what they like best, without regard to the size and shape of the friends and family members they have bestowed this “honor” upon. Some, more kind-hearted brides, select a color that they like and then point the group of women toward a bridal shop that carries that very color in an array of dress styles so that each bridesmaid can choose an individual style that suits them.
In Brazil, there is none of that. Each bridesmaid shows up in a different dress. I believe sometimes the bride gives a bit of direction on the color palette, like requesting that all the women wear a jewel tone, but that is the extent of it. All different colors and different styles.
This turned out to be an issue at my wedding. We had our church wedding in Buzios, Brazil, a small resort town/fishing village a couple hours outside of Rio de Janeiro that was a place my husband spent a great deal of time at as a child. My bridesmaid selection was easy. I only needed to choose from the pool of close family and friends that were willing to travel to Rio de Janeiro shortly after the release of the movie City of God. This meant that I had two bridesmaids – my sister and my best friend whom I had known since childhood. Well, two bridesmaids as far as I knew.
Since my dress was a simple, strapless gown of silk, more fitting for the beach surroundings, I selected a simple, off-white, sleeveless silk dress with floral embroidery for my two bridesmaids. Turns out, upon arrival into Rio, I discovered I had a whole gaggle of other bridesmaids, assigned by my soon-to-be mother-in-law. Many times I asked the obvious question. “But what are they going to wear?” This was always ignored or I was distracted by other wedding issues.
As you might have guessed by now, the other bridesmaids all showed up in their own random dresses. But there was my 5’2″ sister and my 5’9″ friend dressed the same. Of course, the Brazilians didn’t understand why on earth they were wearing the same dress.
Oh yes, and they were both holding weeds wrapped in twine.
Apparently the bridesmaids don’t carry bouquets either. I did not know this, so in one of my very few Bridezilla moments, I demanded that my “wedding designer” come up with bouquets for my two bridesmaids. Though there were a countless number of gorgeous flower arrangements set up around the resort where the reception was being held, he pulled together some green weed-looking plant life to give them. Then the “wedding designer” gave each of the groomsmen one weed to wear in his lapel. You know, for consistency.
Needless to say, they were none too happy with the way they were being presented (and mocked by the Brazilians) that day. Luckily, all three of us have a darn good sense of humor.
So yesterday at the Brazilian wedding, all the bridesmaids walked down the aisle in a different style and color dress, sem bouquets. There were a few other foreign characteristics of this wedding and I’m not sure if it is because they were Brazilian (actually the bride was Brazilian and the groom was Italian) or because it was an Evangelical wedding. But the parents sat in chairs on the alter behind the pastor facing the bride and groom (this would be a bit intimidating for me). Then, a couple singers got “on stage” and stood right in front of the bride and groom, facing them, and belted out a duet (right in their faces). Awkward.
Finally, while at other weddings I’ve been to, once the couple is married, everyone goes outside for pictures. But at this wedding, the audience waited and waited (and waited) while the bride and groom took a picture with each of the couples that stood up with them, and then the parents. That took at least 30 minutes.
Oh, and by the way, I feel much better about my indiscretion on Friday night (see The Play). My husband, the bride being a former co-worker, slept through much of the wedding.
However, it was a very lovely wedding, despite the roaring thunderstorm outside (I was really feeling bad for them.) And we were very lucky to be a part of the beautiful event.
Another thing I learned yesterday is that the “buffet” concept is not just for infantils (kid’s birthdays). There are adults “buffets” too, which is where the reception was held. No, there were no video games or ball pitts or “jumpy-jumpies.” But, imagine my surprise when this landed at our table.