The Marriage Ceremony

Planning a wedding? Find out what to expect for the marriage ceremony in Brazil...

The marriage ceremony can take place anywhere, as long as the local registry office has been informed of the address, date and time, and has agreed to send an official to conduct the ceremony. Religious ceremonies and those conducted in private spaces have every right to include additional elements such as songs, hymns, prayers or declarations.

Witnesses

Ceremonies conducted at the registry office itself require a minimum of two witnesses who are over eighteen years of age, while those performed in other locations need a minimum of four. Brazilian marriages do not traditionally involve a Best Man or Maid of Honor (but bridesmaids are now becoming more popular), although it is not unheard of for upwards of twenty witnesses to be invited.

Ceremonies

After a church wedding, the couple has to return to their local registry office within 90 days with the document issued by the church, in order to make the marriage legal.

If it takes place at a registry office, then once the official has heard declarations of intent to marry of their own free will from each of the couple, the marriage register is signed by the couple, the witnesses and the notary official. The official then declares the couple married.

In São Paulo, depending on the district, there is a cost of between R$200 and R$300 for ceremonies conducted at a registry office, while this charge can as much as double when conducted at private locations. Prices outside the country’s largest city can drop to as low as R$100 and this charge can be avoided if the couple makes a "Declaration of Poverty".

Names

According to Brazilian law, the bride can assume the bridegroom’s name or vice-versa, or the couple’s existing surnames can be joined in any way which creates a common last name. This is a tradition which has been handed down through Portuguese tradition and can often lead to very extended multiple surnames.