Mexican weddings are jovial, celebratory events rich with history. There are a few customs and rituals you might anticipate witnessing at the destination wedding if you’ve been invited as a first-time visitor to a traditional Mexican wedding. Notably, many couples getting married in Mexico decide to have Catholic weddings.
Mexican weddings are a vibrant fusion of tradition, culture, and celebration, creating an unforgettable experience for both the couple and their guests. Understanding the customs and rituals involved in a Mexican wedding, especially if it’s a Catholic ceremony, can enhance your appreciation of the significance behind each element.
From the exchange of wedding vows in a Catholic church to the lively fiesta that follows, the essence of a Mexican wedding lies in the joyous celebration of love and unity. With insights from Angelina Cardenas, an expert in Mexican wedding customs, this ultimate guide provides you with the essential knowledge to fully embrace and enjoy the magic of a traditional Mexican wedding. So get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant traditions and create lasting memories in the enchanting world of Mexican weddings!
It is useful to comprehend the significance of the components that may be included in a Catholic Mexican wedding service and the joyous celebration that will follow. The owner of Angelina Cardenas Events in Tulum, Mexico, provides her knowledge of the Mexican wedding customs you should be aware of before the big day in the paragraphs below.
Catholic Marriage Service
Mexican couples often exchange vows during a liturgy held in a Catholic church. The marriage ceremony will be officiated by a Catholic priest, who will also bless the couple and supervise the exchanging of rings and vows. In a Catholic church, the Eucharistic rite, or communion, will take place at a wedding mass. However, non-Catholic wedding guests are requested to abstain from participating in this holy custom.
Bride’s Attire for Mexican Weddings
Traditionally, the bride’s family members paid the groom’s family to sew her wedding gown. Old-fashioned clothing was greatly influenced by Spanish heritage and allegedly Flamenco-inspired styles. As an alternative, indigenous brides would design their gowns in accordance with local traditions and practices, frequently combining symbols of luck, fertility and wealth.
More recently, Mexican women have turned to wedding magazines for inspiration and had barely-there gowns custom-made for their body types and preferences. Dresses by Vera Wang that are trendy and contemporary gowns are influenced by Monique Lhuillier. Of course, traditional materials and a rich heritage of regional design are still available in bridal boutiques, bringing a traditional touch to contemporary fashions.
While not all Mexican women want to wed in a church, many do, and in these instances, the dress code for the church must be adhered to. As a result, brides may cover their naked shoulders with shawls or bolero jackets.
Veils for Mexican weddings
Brides have the option of donning a veil to conceal their heads, particularly in a church setting. The wedding veils made of mantillas most closely resemble traditional Spanish designs.
Traditionally, grooms donned a Mexican shirt with black or linen slacks. Guayaberas, another name for wedding shirts used in Mexico, have two rows of vertical, delicate pleats and up to four little patch pockets. These shirts are often made of linen and are just as formal as any tux available today. Presidents of Mexico and other Latin American nations have been observed wearing guayaberas to official international occasions.
Although many grooms would prefer to attend their wedding in a comfortable guayabera rather than a formal suit, the reality is that many still don the suit. Suits are selected in direct connection to the wedding’s formality and timing. Many are available for rental, while many others are custom-built for the groom.
Mexican Wedding Ceremony Traditions
Mexican marriage rituals include traditional cultural components with their Catholic interpretation. A Catholic mass is now a part of nearly 50% of Mexican wedding ceremonies, according to a survey by the Latin American Association of Religious Studies that was highlighted in an article in Sipse. However, fifty years ago, that percentage was closer to 88%. Additionally, before 1910, the state and the church were not divided. Therefore, the Catholic church served as the venue for every wedding.
When being married in a church, it is customary for the couple to give the Virgin Mary their wedding bouquet after the ceremony in the hopes that she may bless their union. This custom has its roots in Mexico’s veneration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The bride is given a second bouquet as a result, which she can use for photo ops, to hold after the ceremony and toss to the girls afterward.
During the wedding liturgy, the bride and groom often kneel on cushions. These cushions might be gifts from a sponsor.
The couple gets pelted with rice, bird seeds or white confetti as they leave the chapel. This denotes wealth, procreation and luck; really traditional, yet not wholly religious.
Numerous minor rituals also take place as part of the bigger celebration. These shorter rites are typically part of the church service, but as they have wholly secular origins, they can be utilized to customize any form of wedding ceremony.
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Respecting Each Parent
In Mexican wedding rituals, both the bride and the groom are escorted by their parents as they approach the altar. Both the bride and the groom enter the chamber with their parents. This custom has its roots in Mexican culture’s strong emphasis on filial devotion. In addition to honoring both parents, it symbolizes the parents’ approval of their children’s union.
Pedida (The Father’s Approval)
La Pedida is a Mexican wedding tradition where the family of the groom visits the home of the bride to request her father’s approval to move forward with the arrangements for the wedding ceremony.
Fathers are the head of the home in a lot of societies and for this are regarded with respect and the authority to give final decisions on whatever things are vital. In some traditions like in a Mexican family, they have the authority to decline their daughter’s suitor if they see him as “not fit” for their daughter.
During the Mexican wedding tradition this authority called “La Pedida” is shown. The groom asks his bride’s father for her in marriage and waits in anticipation for his answer.
Requesting her hand in marriage is called the Pedir. The Pedir is a sign of honor, care, and admiration for the bride and her entire family. Once the father grants his permission, then the two families would come together and hold a mini get-together as a way to kick start the festivities and the ceremony that would follow. They would then start discussing, making arrangements, and choosing dates.
Matching Colors for the Bridal Party
In this Mexican wedding tradition, the entire bridal party which consists of the bridesmaids, maid of honor, best man, groomsmen, ring bearers, and flower girls are asked to dress in matching colors for the wedding ceremony.
The groomsmen will wear ties that would be in harmony with the bridesmaid’s dresses, while the flower girls and ring bearers will also wear matching colors with the bridesmaid or groomsmen, or matching colors with the bride and groom. When the bride and groom walk down the aisle with their train, the matching colors make a beautiful sight.
A lasso, which in Mexican culture is more like a string or might even be made of rosary beads, is draped around the soon-to-be-weds as a sign of their union during the wedding lasso rite. According to Cardenas, this rite symbolizes “the pair becoming one unit.”
The Matrimonial Arras
The wedding coins are called arras matrinoniales. Gold coins, which are often kept in an elaborate box, are transferred between the couple as a sign of wealth at the wedding coin rite. As a sign that he would be able to “financially provide for the family and the bride will safeguard and take care of it,” historically, the groom would present the coins to the bride.
Display of the Bouquet
The giving of a bouquet to the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a significant part of Catholic wedding rituals in Mexico. The couple will pray to the Virgin Mary and beg for her intervention during the bouquet-presentation ceremony. At Mexican weddings, “a floral bouquet for the Virgin Maria is a requirement.”
While it’s not customary everywhere in Mexico, certain areas make use of the wedding procession, which usually takes place in the streets after the ceremony. The newlyweds and their guests will march across town to commemorate their wedding in a manner akin to a Second Line celebration in New Orleans. This tradition doesn’t exist in Southern Mexico. The big streets of San Miguel are where this often occurs.
On occasion, a mariachi band will play during a wedding in Mexico. These musicians may be hired by couples to play specific songs throughout the celebration.
Mexican Wedding Venues
Mexico has a variety of stunning scenery. While certain areas of the nation include picturesque mountain vistas, others are renowned for their white sand beaches and spectacular ocean views. Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Maya are historical treasures brimming with old-world charm, while cities like Cancun and Cabo San Lucas are known for their bustling nightlife and colorful culture.
You may discover an ideal wedding location in every part of Mexico, whether you want to exchange vows on a beach or next to historic ruins. Here are a few of Mexico’s most popular locations for destination weddings.
The most popular location for destination weddings globally and in Mexico in 2021 was Riviera Maya. With some of Mexico’s brightest-lit seas, Riviera Maya is located on the Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean coast. As a result, beach weddings are particularly common in this area, with the turquoise reef seas providing the ideal setting for couples to say “I do.”
Couples can also choose to get married amid a lush forest, next to a secret underwater cove or close to old Mayan ruins in addition to beaches. The Riviera Maya village of Tulum was named one of US News’ top five most inexpensive wedding destinations worldwide.
It’s not hard to understand why Cancun was listed as one of the best wedding locations for 2019. This seaside getaway offers a variety of delights to surround your wedding day, in addition to a vibrant nightlife. Consider cenotes, an underwater museum, the second-largest reef in the world, and Chichen Itza, the most popular Mayan ruin in the world.
Furthermore, Cancun, which is ranked third among Mexico’s top beaches by US News, provides miles of beautiful white-sand beaches for couples to unwind on.
Puerto Vallarta, one of the nicest places on earth and one of the top rising wedding locations in our 2021 Trends Survey, is undoubtedly a place to write home about. This coastal town offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre mountains as it is tucked away along the edge of Mexico’s greatest natural harbor.
Puerto Vallarta has neighborhoods that are both quiet and bustling, with top-notch wedding resorts on each end of the range. One of the most economical wedding destinations in the world right now is Puerto Vallarta.
Wedding sponsors or those selected by the engaged couple to take care of various wedding preparations are known as Los Padrinos y Madrinas. The engaged couples are often guided through the wedding planning process by a married couple, perhaps the godparents of the future bride and groom or other family members.
These wedding sponsors typically contribute financially to the wedding and give the couple a range of presents. They typically give the soon-to-be newlyweds a kneeling cushion and a pair of rosary beads to be used during the Catholic wedding ceremony. These people frequently “attend to some ceremony specifics, such arras, rings, bouquet and el lazo, and take part at this time. They frequently give the couple many of the reception’s components, including the cake, photographer, music and alcohol.”
Food at Mexican Weddings
In the past, everyone in the town would help prepare the food for the reception, and everyone would come. Delicious Mexican delicacies were made in the couple’s honor. For special occasions, a goat or pig would occasionally be slain and carefully cooked. The main course would be served with delectable sides and desserts. These meals were prepared with a great deal of care, time and work.
Tasty dishes like tamales, tacos with fresh tortillas, pig carnitas, enchiladas and others are frequently served during Mexican wedding festivities. There will often be a wide range of options, including a choice of meats and sauces.
Local Mexican tequilas, beers and fresh margaritas will probably be available on the bar menu. Agua fresca with tastes like horchata, tamarind and limon may be offered as a non-alcoholic option.
Dessert options include polvorones or Mexican wedding cookies. Mexican wedding sweets aren’t as common as most people think. Other desserts that could be served include buñuelos, pan dulce, tres leches cake and wedding cakes.
The classic Mexican sauce, mole, is one of the wedding treats that may still be enjoyed at conventional Mexican weddings. This sauce may be applied to any kind of meat and is made of a variety of chili peppers and nuts. There is also a bridal mole, known as mole the novia or mole blanco, which is delicious and exquisite in its milky white tint.
The pair will probably participate in the lively after-party known as tornaboda with their wedding party and loved ones. This usually happens in a smaller setting and could even happen the next day.
Wedding Reception Ceremony
Mexican wedding customs continue after the ceremony. In fact, some wedding celebrations in Mexico might go on for two days. This includes the wedding reception itself and the tornaboda, which is a lot like the brunch that follows the wedding in the United States. Many times, couples just skip it, basically having a one-day wedding. Sometimes it’s just some late-night nibbles after the ceremony. Other times it’s a formal brunch.
Invites to the Reception and Seating
Long ago, everyone was invited to the wedding in small towns and closely knit communities. Of course, this was also the era of the great potluck wedding and is where the tradition of sponsors originated. Nowadays, the wedding guest list and invitation design are both meticulously crafted. While it is true that many people may be invited if finances and social ties allow, the event is no longer a huge gathering.
The couple could do the first dance together on the dance floor to start the celebration. You may anticipate seeing a dance known as la vibora de la mar or the sea snake dance, at some time in the evening. During la vibora de la mar, attendees would hold on to one another as they walked around the dance floor and eventually pass through an arch made by the newlyweds’ hands.
“With their hands up and clasped, the pair is in the middle of the dance floor. The guests dance and pass through the arch the couple has created by hanging onto the waists of the people you have in front.” During the wedding reception, there could also be a dance known as the money dance.
The bride and groom enjoy their first dance as they are surrounded by the guests on the dance floor during the celebration. The couple then dances with their parents, followed by significant padrinos and members of their family. The dancing floor is then accessible to everyone!
According to this custom, men “pay” to dance with the bride, while women “pay” to dance with the groom. Actually, it’s just a pretext for giving the bride and groom money, which is the universally preferred gift. As the couple dances, the well-wisher typically pins a bill to the bride’s dress or the groom’s suit and wishes them a happy marriage. The newlyweds are expected to utilize the money for their honeymoon or to start their new life together.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Guests Wear for a Wedding in Mexico?
On the wedding day, guests should dress appropriately for church. Make sure your dress covers your shoulders if you’re wearing one or bring a bolero, shawl or jacket to put over the top. A safe bet is often a suit or pants with a collared shirt and tie. If in doubt, though, check the wedding invitation for details on the dress code.
You don’t need to dress up as much for the party following the ceremony because Mexican wedding receptions are often less formal than the wedding ceremony. Some attendees could dress in guayaberas, which are short-sleeved linen button-down shirts. Regarding the couple getting married, the bride could wear a mantilla, a Spanish veil with an exquisite lace border, with her wedding gown, while the guy is probably going to wear a suit.
In Mexico, Who Normally Pays for the Wedding?
In the past, the parents would pay for most of the wedding expenditures. In contemporary Mexican society, anybody may contribute to the budget, from parents to the couple themselves. Everyone participating in the planning process should have an open discussion about expectations prior to delving too far into the wedding-planning process.
What Do Mexicans Give as Wedding Presents?
While the newlyweds will probably get a special kneeling pillow, prayer book and rosary bead set from the wedding sponsors, other wedding guests should refrain from gifting the couple anything other than items from their register or cash.
What are some facts about Mexican weddings?
Mexican weddings usually depict just how family-oriented Mexicans are. Their weddings always have all family members on deck, from Padrino and Madrina, the godparents or sponsors, to fathers, mothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins.
Their guest lists always largely contain family members. The godparents or sponsors are usually selected by the couple and are usually people very dear to them. They always reflect the kind of love and bond the couple wish to have. The Padrinos y Madrina also sponsor and provide most things the couple uses for the church ceremony.
Mexican weddings are different from your usual weddings because Mexicans are generally known for having a good time at their weddings and throwing great parties. From their gorgeous traditions to their delicious cuisines and lovable people, Mexican festivities are always full of life!
They also have a few of the best destinations for a wedding. A wedding celebrated in Mexico is usually one for the books.
Talking about the music during their traditional wedding ceremonies, the mariachi band alone will have you jumping to your feet and dancing away in no time!
Of course, we also can’t fail to mention that Mexican weddings would not be the same without their exchange of vows in a Catholic Church. In conclusion, Mexican weddings are a great celebration of joy and unity.
Serena & Dominic are a married couple and parents to 3 wonderful children. They plan weddings, run multiple small businesses, and curate wedding events.
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