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Bolivian Weddings

Bolivia is a multiclass and multiethnic country; consequently, each class and ethnic group celebrates their weddings differently. For example, a Quechua couple (indigenous people) celebrates their wedding in the house of one of the newlyweds’ parents. Family members and close friends are invited to the ceremony. The elders of both families carry out the ceremony, which is mainly a list of advice for the groom and for the bride. During the ceremony, family members and guests listen quietly. After the ceremony, the groom and the bride exchange coca leaves and start to chew them, an act that is followed by the adult guests. Then, the parents of the newlyweds toast for the happiness of their children (the newlyweds) with chicha (alcohol made by fermented corn). The children drink fruit juice, and everyone enjoy a dish of fresh corn, dried llama meat, haba beans, potatoes, sheep cheese, and tomatoes-union-hot pepper salad.  After the ceremony everybody chats; if there are musicians among the guests, they dance and get drunk. After a few hours, the newlyweds leave to their new house, and the guests and family members stay behind longer until everybody leave to their houses. The Quechua people are not catholic, but they believe in the mother earth (Pachamama), the father sun (Inti) and the water (Yaku).

On the other hand, the middle class (not indigenous) have their weddings in a Catholic Church, but also they get married in a civil registry office, followed always by two days or a week of celebrations (parties). The newlywed’s parents choose compadres (godfathers) between their closest friends for the expenses of the wedding. They (the parents) have to find compadres for every wedding expense item, for example, los compadres de anillos are the godfathers who buy the rings of gold for the groom and for the bride, in the same way the godfathers of cake, food, music band, drinks, confetti, etc, have to pay for those items. Practically all of the expenses are paid by the godfathers. The bride and the groom buy their own clothes that are going to use in the ceremonies. After the religious and civil ceremonies, the newlyweds already in their home open their gifts that they received from guests and family members. The party usually is in the parents’ house of the groom or of the bride (it has to be the best house between the two families).

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