Surprise and please your guests with Latin American customs and traditions, and don’t forget to explain the symbolism of what you are doing!
If you are both from a different culture, don’t be afraid to combine traditions to create the perfect day for you.
In several countries, including Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile, couples are officially married at a civil ceremony several weeks before the formal religious ceremony in a church or chapel. Smart street wear is worn to the civil ceremony and it is attended by close family and friends only.
In Mexico and other Latin American countries, the bride’s mother (or both parents) says a prayer with the bride before leaving for the wedding.
In countries such as Colombia and Puerto Rico, the groom may hire a mariachi group to serenade the bride before she leaves for the church.
Traditionally, a Hispanic wedding is deeply spiritual and involves a full mass in a Roman Catholic Church. The bride and groom and their attendants stand or kneel at the altar. Prayers are said for the couple as they begin their life together.
In Argentina, the mother of the groom and the father of the bride accompany the couple as they walk down the aisle together. There are no bridesmaids or groomsmen.
A candle ceremony is traditional in Colombia. The bride and groom each light a candle just after the wedding ceremony. Then they use these candles to light a third together. This candle is the symbol of their unity, and a new life in which they are to share everything.
Rice or rose petals may be thrown at the couple as they leave the church to bring them luck.
Horses are an important part of the culture in some areas of Chile, and may be paraded in bright saddles and bridles to celebrate the happy event.
In many Latin American countries such as Mexico, an extra-long strand of rosary beads (adorned with crystals, glass beads, flowers, and often with a crucifix or cross) or a white satin cord or rope, known as a lazo or lasso, is placed around the couple’s shoulders in a figure eight after they have exchanged their vows. The symbolism of the lazo is to show the union and protection of marriage.
Specific members of the wedding party, called the padrino and madrina of the lazo, are often responsible for "lassoing" the bride and groom together after they kneel to pray. Tradition requires the couple to wear the lazo for what remains of the service. This is symbolic of their love, which should bind the couple together every day as they share the responsibility of marriage for the rest of their lives.
The figure eight symbolizes infinity, and the tradition goes back to early Spain when brides were often captured and bound and also to pre-Columbian Mexico where Aztecs tied the hems of the bride and grooms’ wedding tunics together. These heirloom lazos are an ideal gift to be passed down the generations.
In a similar Guatemalan wedding tradition it is customary for the bride and groom to be bound together with a silver rope symbolizing their union.
This wedding custom is originally from Spain and is typical of Catholic ceremonies in countries such as Spain, Panama and Mexico.
The groom presents the bride with thirteen gold or silver coins, or arras, to represent his promise to support her. The bride accepts them to demonstrate her faith in his ability to protect her and provide for her.
The number thirteen represents Christ and his twelve apostles. The arras and the madrina de arras, an ornate box or tray that holds the coins, often become a family heirloom as a symbolic representation of the bride’s dowry.
In many Latin American cultures, sponsors called padrinos (godfathers) and madrinas (godmothers) offer support to the couple throughout the engagement and marriage. They are usually people who have played an important role in the lives of the bride and groom, and could even be their parents or siblings.
In addition to paying for different aspects of the wedding, the padrinos provide spiritual and emotional guidance to the bride and groom.They also take part of the church services. For example, a padrino may walk the bride down the aisle. Padrinos de lazo are chosen to put the lazo around the couple during the ceremony, padrinos de arras present the couple with the madrina de arras containing the 13 coins, and padrinos del ramo provide the wedding bouquet. Padrinos may present the bride and groom with a Bible and rosary during the ceremony.
In Bolivia, parents choose compadres or compadrazgo (godparents) for their children. These compadres play an important part in the planning and financial responsibilities of the wedding, providing essential advice and support to the couple throughout their marriage.
I love our hispanic wedding traditions, and the best part is the fiesta after!