Welcome to the 'Falsa Boda': Why fake weddings are big business in Argentina
For many Canadians, the start of summer is marked by the sound of wedding bells. But around the world, marriage is in decline.
In countries like Argentina, fewer and fewer couples are tying the knot. According to some estimates, marriage rates are down 60 per cent since 1990.
But one facet of the Argentinian wedding industry is booming: "Falsa bodas," also known as fake weddings.
The decline of marriage has turned wedding invitations into a scarce commodity — and while they might not want to get hitched, many Argentinians still want to go to the party.
So entrepreneur Joaquin Alterman and a few of his friends decided to cash in on his generation's nostalgia by throwing massive wedding bashes where the cake is real but the bride and groom are not.
Their "falsa bodas" feel just like a traditional wedding, but theres a lot more drama — because the entire wedding party is made up of actors, and somebody almost always gets jilted at the altar.
"People come to the wedding — or to the fake wedding — waiting for something. They know that they are actors, and something weird or strange could happen at every moment," says Alterman.
Guests are also encouraged to get involved by inventing their own character and role-playing throughout the event.
"People take it like a game," Alterman says. "For example, people who say they are ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends of the bride or groom."
The whole concept came about over dinner one night when Alterman and his friends started commiserating about how they never got to attend weddings any more. They thought, why not just throw the party anyway?
"At the beginning, people couldn't understand us. They said we are crazy: 'I have to dress like a wedding, but it is not at a wedding? What are you talking about?'"
"But after that, after the first one, people enjoyed it a lot and it was easy to repeat."
It proved a lucrative business move. The falsa bodas have become such a hit that Alterman's company, Trineo Eventos Creativos, is already expanding into Uruguay and Russia.