Many Mexican wedding traditions are similar to those used around the world, like saying vows and exchanging rings, but there are many special aspects that are unique to Mexican culture. They’re a combination of both traditional Catholic elements and all night fiestas. If you’re invited to a Mexico destination wedding or a traditional wedding ceremony close to home, there are a few differences to be prepared for, and understanding the different elements of the day will help you dive into the celebrations.
If the couple is having a traditional wedding ceremony, it might be a full Catholic mass, which typically lasts an hour, and it’s a very sacred and holy service. Depending on the family, it might be spoken entirely in Spanish or partially in English, and you’ll be able to recognize traditional elements, like communion, but there are some unique Mexican wedding traditions during the ceremony too.
A Mexican wedding is all about family, and while the guest list is large, there are a few special family members, the padrino and madrina. These words mean godparents, and they’re specially chosen by the couple to be at the heart of the wedding, often representing the love and commitment the couple aspires to. They often pay for some elements of the wedding, like a special Bible or pillow for the couple to kneel on, or give readings during the mass.
The padrino and madrina typically present the couple with el lazo, or the lasso. This is one of the most important Mexican wedding traditions, and like any other unity ceremony, it represents the couple becoming one in God’s eyes. The lasso is typically a large rosary or silk chord that’s placed around the couple during the prayer and kept forever in the couple’s home.
In traditional Mexican culture, the groom sometimes presents an ornate box with 13 gold coins to the bride, coins representing Jesus and his disciples as well as his commitment to provide for his family. They’re sometimes given to the groom by the padrinos, and they’re blessed by the priest during the ceremony.
Few celebrations in Mexican culture are complete without mariachi music. During a traditional wedding ceremony, they’ll play hymns and religious songs, but during the reception, they’ll pick up the beat for more festive songs that will get the whole family out on the dance floor. When you’re invited to a Mexican style wedding, getting to dance to traditional mariachi music is a highlight, and if you’re planning a Mexico destination wedding, be sure to hire a live mariachi band.
In Mexican culture, dinner is usually served at a later hour, and if you’re invited to a Mexican style wedding, be prepared for it to last all night long. These celebrations bring family members together for dinner, dancing, and drinks, and even grandparents will stay up later than usual to join in the fun.
During the reception, there are a few special dances for guests to participate in. During the Vibora de la Mar (the Sea Snake Dance), the bride and groom stand on chairs and form an arch with their arms for guests to pass through. There’s also often a money dance during which guests “pay” to dance with the bride or groom by pinning a dollar on them. It’s a chance to spend some one-on-one time with the bride or groom and give them your best wishes. If you’re attending a Mexico destination wedding, be sure to bring a dollar or two for this dance.
Mexican wedding cookies are a popular treat in the US, and similar powdered, buttery cookies are served around the world. Despite their name, they’re not a typical part of any Mexican style wedding. These specific Mexican wedding cookies are typically served more in the north of the country.