Wedding Traditions in Colombia

Holidays and Celebrations

Weddings in Colombia are celebrated with great enthusiasm and are an important part of the country’s rich cultural heritage. From pre-wedding rituals to post-wedding celebrations, Colombian weddings are steeped in tradition and symbolism. In this article, we will explore some of the most prominent wedding traditions in Colombia.

1. Engagement and Pre-Wedding Rituals

Colombian weddings often involve several pre-wedding rituals that signify the couple’s commitment to each other. One of the most common traditions is the “Pedida de Mano,” which translates to “hand request.” In this ritual, the groom and his family formally ask the bride’s parents for her hand in marriage.

Another popular pre-wedding tradition is the “Despedida de Soltero/a,” which is the bachelor/bachelorette party. During this event, the bride and groom celebrate their last night of singledom with their friends and family.

1.1 The Paisa Tradition

Colombia is a diverse country with various regional traditions. In the Paisa region, which includes cities like Medellín and Bogotá, there is a unique pre-wedding ritual called “Las Arras.” This tradition involves the groom giving thirteen gold coins to his bride, symbolizing his commitment to provide for her.

To mark the engagement, the bride also receives an engagement ring, which she wears on her right hand. On the wedding day, she moves the ring to her left hand to symbolize her transition from engagement to marriage.

2. Wedding Attire

Traditional Colombian wedding attire reflects the country’s vibrant culture and heritage. The bride typically wears a white wedding gown, accompanied by a mantilla veil and a silver or gold crown. The groom often wears a traditional charro suit, which consists of a fitted jacket, embroidered pants, and a sombrero.

It is also common for Colombian brides to incorporate elements of their heritage into their wedding attire. For example, brides from the Pacific coast region may wear brightly colored dresses made from traditional fabrics, while brides from the Caribbean coast might opt for a more relaxed and beach-inspired look.

2.1 The Veil and Lazo

In addition to the wedding gown, Colombian brides often wear a veil, which symbolizes purity and modesty. The veil is typically made of tulle or lace and is attached to a comb or tiara. The groom, on the other hand, wears a “Lazo,” a long white ribbon that is tied around the couple’s shoulders in a figure-eight shape, symbolizing their unity.

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3. Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony in Colombia is a blend of religious and cultural traditions. The majority of Colombians are Catholic, so it is common for weddings to take place in a church. However, secular ceremonies are also becoming more popular.

During the ceremony, the couple exchanges vows and rings, followed by the “Ceremonia de las Velas,” or candle ceremony. This ritual involves the couple lighting a unity candle together, symbolizing the merging of their lives.

3.1 The Godparents

In Colombian weddings, it is customary for the couple to have godparents, known as “padrinos.” The role of the godparents is to guide the newlyweds throughout their married life and provide support. The godparents are usually close family members or friends of the couple.

4. Wedding Reception and Festivities

Colombians are known for their love of music, dancing, and celebration, and weddings are no exception. The wedding reception in Colombia is a lively and joyous affair, filled with traditional music, dancing, and delicious food.

One popular dance at Colombian weddings is the “Cumbia,” a traditional dance that originated in the Caribbean coast region. Another traditional dance is the “Vallenato,” which is characterized by its upbeat rhythm and accordion-driven music.

4.1 Traditional Colombian Food

Colombian weddings are renowned for their delicious and diverse cuisine. Traditional dishes often served at weddings include “Bandeja Paisa,” a hearty platter consisting of rice, beans, beef, chorizo, fried egg, and plantain. Another popular dish is “Ajiaco,” a hearty chicken and potato soup.

For dessert, Colombian weddings often feature “Torta de Novia,” a rich fruitcake filled with nuts and soaked in rum. Additionally, guests can enjoy a variety of traditional sweets, such as “arequipe” (caramel) and “cocadas” (coconut candies).

5. Wedding Favors and Traditions

Colombian weddings are known for their unique wedding favors and traditions. One popular tradition is the “ceremonia de la cinta,” where guests tie ribbons around the couple’s wrists to represent their well wishes and blessings.

Another common tradition is the “Hora Loca,” or “Crazy Hour,” where guests wear masks, costumes, and party props to create a festive and energetic atmosphere. This tradition usually takes place towards the end of the reception and is a time for guests to let loose and have fun.

5.1 Wedding Favors

Colombian wedding favors, known as “recuerdos,” are often personalized and reflect the couple’s style and personality. Popular wedding favors include small bottles of aguardiente (a traditional Colombian liquor), handmade crafts, or personalized keychains.

6. Post-Wedding Traditions

After the wedding ceremony and reception, Colombian couples often embark on a honeymoon to celebrate their new union. The choice of destination varies from beach resorts in the Caribbean to exploring the beautiful landscapes of the Andes mountains.

Upon their return from the honeymoon, it is common for the couple to host a “reception de bienvenida,” a welcome reception for friends and family who couldn’t attend the wedding. This event allows the couple to share their wedding experience and celebrate with their loved ones.

6.1 Anniversary Celebrations

Anniversaries hold great significance in Colombian culture, and couples often celebrate their wedding anniversaries with special traditions. One popular tradition is the “Boda de Plata” (Silver Wedding), which commemorates the couple’s 25th anniversary. Family and friends gather to celebrate this milestone with a grand party.


1. Are Colombian weddings mostly religious ceremonies?

While the majority of Colombian weddings are religious ceremonies, secular weddings are also becoming more common. Couples have the freedom to choose whether they want a church wedding or a non-religious ceremony.

Colombian weddings are filled with lively music and dancing. Some popular Colombian wedding songs include “La Pollera Colorá,” “El Baile del Suavecito,” and “La Vida es un Carnaval.”

3. How long do Colombian wedding celebrations typically last?

Colombian wedding celebrations can last several hours, often continuing late into the night. It is not uncommon for weddings to include a full-day itinerary of events, from the ceremony to the reception and beyond.

4. Do Colombian weddings have specific dress codes?

Colombian weddings usually have a formal dress code, with guests often wearing cocktail attire or formal evening wear. It is advisable to follow the dress code specified on the wedding invitation.

5. What is the significance of the gold coins given during the Paisa tradition?

The gold coins given during the Paisa tradition symbolize the groom’s commitment to provide for his bride. It is a gesture that represents his willingness to take care of her and their future together.

6. Do Colombian weddings have specific rituals for the bride and groom’s families?

Yes, Colombian weddings often involve rituals that involve the participation of both the bride and groom’s families. These rituals can include the formal request for the bride’s hand in marriage and the exchange of gifts between the families.


Colombian weddings are a beautiful blend of tradition, culture, and celebration. From pre-wedding rituals to post-wedding traditions, every aspect of a Colombian wedding holds deep meaning and symbolism. The vibrant attire, lively music, and delicious cuisine contribute to the festive atmosphere that surrounds these joyous occasions. Whether it’s the exchanging of vows in a church or dancing the night away at the reception, Colombian weddings are a true celebration of love and unity.

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