One of the many beautiful customs in Bolivia is the Padrino or Madrina. Literally translated this means Godfather or Godmother. For any and all sorts of events, various people in a community are asked to be padrinos of a specific part of the event – drinks, food, uniforms, etc. In the context of a wedding, this custom provides close friends and family with a way to really get involved. Different people are asked to be padrinos of everything from the cake to the rings to the flower arrangements. I served as Madrina of photography for two weddings during my time with FHI. This meant following each couple around for the day of the wedding snapping photographs and enlisting the help of two or three other “Paparatzi” (as we were nicknamed). Later, I developed the film and put the photos together in an album for the couple.
Having had the honor of being a Madrina, it’s a blessing to now be on the receiving end. We have ten padrinos for our wedding, all close friends or members of Osvaldo’s family. This significantly reduces the cost for us while at the same time provides a way for the people closest to us to play an important role on one of the most important days of our lives. Why this custom hasn’t been embraced in the US is a mystery to me.