Most Portuguese weddings today are been performed in a modern way, but still include some of the ancient customs and traditions. In some places, however, some couples are choosing to celebrate with the full traditions of the ancient times that are handed down to them from one generation to the next.
The Engagement starts when the man sends over to the girl’s house his father or any elder male member of his family to ask the girl’s hand in marriage. Once the parents agree, the man will visit the girl’s house and formally and officially perform this task. Marriage, then, will be allowed to take place.
This engagement ritual will be followed by a mass, as the majority of Portuguese are Roman Catholics. A small reception will follow and close relatives will be invited. This is the time when the bride would choose her Maid of Honor (madrinha) and the groom would choose his Best Man (Padrinho). Many times a couple is chosen to perform these roles.
Bachelor and bachelorette parties will also be held separately and these will be done in a conservative way. This will be attended by the groom’s and bride’s friends and relatives (male friends for the groom and female friends for the bride) for food and drinks, as the two bid farewell to their friends and to their single status.
The Wedding Outfit
For the Portuguese wedding ceremony, the bride will traditionally wear a Chinese tunic in white, covered with jewels in all colors. The groom will be in a dark suit and white shirt. He also will wear a stylish hat.
The Wedding Ceremony
The priest will conduct the mass and give advice to the couple by reading verses from the Bible.
The exchange of rings will be performed at the end of the ceremony. The bride and groom will place the wedding ring on each other’s fingers and the priest will use his stole (a strip of cloth worn over the neck by clergymen) to cover the couple.
After the church ceremony, the couple will go out of the church, where they will meet guests, who throw candies and flowers at them. This is the same ritual in other cultures where rice or wheat is thrown instead. From the church, the couple will walk through the streets. Again, friends and family and even people they do not know personally will wish them happiness and prosperity.
Today, the walking down the streets is skipped over by some couples and they proceed to the reception instead. Either a home or a restaurant is chosen as the venue. There will be a lot of music, dancing, telling stories about the bride and the groom. Food will be served in abundance, as well as drinks. Some families serve only what they can afford, but they cook their own dishes that include chicken and pig, fresh tomatoes and potatoes and much more. These families believe that it is best to prepare their own dishes to serve to the guests.
Portuguese wedding receptions, as in other cultures, do not follow a firm schedule, so the guests can party into the night. Serving of meals are structured in such a way, as to allow sometime between the courses. This gives time for some dancing and chatting while building up their appetites.
One tradition in Portuguese weddings is the money dance. Here, the young men will dance with the bride and give cash gifts, which are pinned on the bride’s dress. In some places the money dance is performed using a bride’s shoe that is passed around the dance floor and filled with money. These gifts will help the couple in setting up their new life together and some will be used to spend for their honeymoon.
The day following the reception, the new couple will visit each of their guests and thank them personally for attending the wedding.
The Boulevard Room was designed to host small weddings for 50 to 120 people. The in house catering team can create authentic Portuguese foods.