Weddings are rituals that celebrate the love between two people. While the purpose of these events is universal in almost any corner of the world, they are affected by cultural heritage.
Mexico is a country where religion, customs, and a series of beliefs, influenced by Spanish and Hispanic cultures, have created the so-called traditional Mexican wedding.
But what does a traditional Mexican wedding consist of?
In very traditional families, the groom must ask the bride’s father for her hand to show respect. And it’s the bride’s family that usually covers the majority of the wedding expenses. Many rituals take place during the church ceremony and the reception. Those, however, vary depending on the part of Mexico you decide to host the event.
PW shares a list of the most popular Mexican wedding traditions.
Mexican Wedding Ceremony
Traditional weddings in Mexico usually take place in a Catholic church with the main focus on the couple’s bond with God and the Virgin of Guadalupe.
One of the most significant parts of the ceremony involves choosing the madrinas and padrinos. They do not only present the newlyweds with meaningful gifts but also promise to act as guides and mentors of the couple before God and the Virgin. It is a spiritual, emotional and financial lifetime oath.
Also known as the godparents, they support the bride and groom before, during, and even after the ceremony. Back in the day, the couple’s parents chose them, but now it is possible to decide on your “guides” freely. Although there is no exact number of padrinos one should have, these are four essential types that usually accompany the bride and groom:
They are a married couple, admired and respected by the future newlyweds who see them as a role model.
Wedding rings padrinos
Wedding rings padrinos can either be married or single (either one or two).
Padrinos of arras
They can be a married couple or just a single friend. After the wedding rings exchange, padrinos gift the newlyweds thirteen arras, golden coins representing the twelve months of the year and the poor (the thirteenth). These wedding tokens symbolize teamwork as the bride and groom promise to be there for each other, rich or poor. Las arras also represent a lifetime of prosperity.
Padrinos of the lasso
Traditionally, they are a married couple who have been together for a very long time or whose relationship is stable. After wedding vows, rings exchange and arras, these padrinos place over the couple the nuptial lasso – an oversized rosary. It’s a gift representing the unbreakable union and the mutual support between the bride and groom.
Mexican Wedding Party
Mexican traditional wedding party is considered one of the most memorable parts of the big day. The never-ending dancing, the available-whenever food and drinks, lively music and fun games create a unique cheerful atmosphere.
Mexican Wedding Dances
The First Dance
The tradition of the first dance goes back to the elite European courts and wealthy families of the end of the 18th century. It can happen at the beginning of the reception, after the meal or after the cake cutting. It all comes down to the bride and groom, who usually choose an elegant three-step waltz for their dance. Modern couples, however, prefer pop/rock songs, spicy salsa or sensual tango.
The Father-Daughter Dance
After the newlywed’s first dance, the bride invites her father (or any father figure in her life) to dance. It is a sign of respect and gratitude for the love and support he has shown years before the wedding that will continue after.
The Mother-Son Dance
Following the father-daughter performance, the groom invites his mother (or any mother figure in his life) to the dance floor. It is an intimate moment between the mother and son that symbolizes eternal love, respect and gratitude for the past years and the years to come.
La Víbora de La Mar
Originally a song for children, it has now become a must at traditional Mexican weddings. The bride and groom stand on chairs opposite one another in the middle of the dance floor. They usually hold the veil or their hands are forming an arch. The guests have to pass through while dancing. The key is not to break the snake formation as the music speeds up. Be careful (or not) if the couple traps you in their arms because you’ll have to drink a shot.
The Vaquero Dance
If there is one song that wakens old memories and guarantees laughter (even a few drops of sweat), it is “Payaso de Rodeo.” Every Mexican knows the choreography by heart, but it is easy to learn if you want to dance it. Be careful with your feet because, between the emotion and adrenaline, one can accidentally stomp on your foot.
These are only some of the most known Mexican wedding dances. Each state’s folklore is unique, so it is a never-ending list. In Oaxaca, for example, women tend to dance el baile de la piña (the pineapple dance). Meanwhile, men perform el baile del guajolote (the turkey dance). There’s also la Chilena, considered the most representative dance of Latin America, that is popular in Oaxaca and the state of Guerrero.
Mexican Wedding Games
There are many Mexican traditional wedding games. Though not a norm, they can make the celebration exciting. Here are some of them:
Break the glass
After the married couple gives a heartfelt speech, they drop their glasses. The tradition says that however many pieces the glassware breaks into will symbolize how many years they’ll be happily married.
Wedding garter game
The garter is a symbol of femininity and mystery. Following the rhythm of a song, the groom removes it from the bride with his hands or teeth. He then stands on a chair and blindly throws it into a crowd of single men.
It is a fun way to say goodbye to single life and say “hello” to marriage. All men are called to gather around the dance floor and carry the groom following the beat of “La Marcha Fúnebre” (The Funeral March).
Mexican Wedding Music
Music runs through Mexico’s veins making it almost impossible for the bride, groom, their friends and family not to sing or dance.
Mariachi music has been resounding in Mexico for already three centuries (not exactly as we know it now, of course). It is the result of a great mix of traditions, rhythms and poetry, which are preserved and are considered by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage. Including a set of live mariachi in a wedding will liven up your party and very few guests will resist following the rhythm, either by clapping or singing at the top of their lungs. Mariachi instruments are powerful and the dresses of the band’s members are elegant and very beautiful. It is the perfect accompaniment to an unforgettable celebration!
Originally from Sinaloa, banda has become one of Latin America’s most representative music genres. Its detailed romantic lyricism will make anyone melt in love. Some of the most popular bandas include El Recodo, Banda Los Recoditos and La Arrolladora Banda El Limón.
Cumbia has crossed the Latin American borders and became a must at all types of parties, especially at Mexican weddings. Influenced by Spanish, American Indian and African cultures, it will certainly get your hips moving. The most well-known Mexican cumbia band is called Los Ángeles Azules.
While traditional music is truly beautiful, Timbiriche and Luis Miguel will also make you pour out your broken or loving heart. By the way, reggaeton is quite popular at modern Mexican weddings.
Traditions are alive because they are being passed from generation to generation.
Mexico’s rich culture awakens the excitement and paints a wedding in million colors. Music, dances, games, rituals, spicy food, and unique beverages can create a one-of-a-kind celebration.
Yes, marriage ceremonies in this beautiful country usually follow Catholic customs, but Mexican wedding traditions don’t have to be followed by the book. Nor do you have to be from this country or religious to adopt them.
If you wish to add a bit of Mexican spice to your ceremony, it is definitely possible with Paraíso Wedding.
Read a related article: LGBT wedding in Mexico is a great option for any couple
If you are planning on celebrating your wedding in Mexico, learn more about our services and contact Paraíso Wedding.