Mexican Weddings rituals are unusual but extremely interesting. They tend to be large with many attendants. The attendants are called madrinas and padrinos and they have special roles in the wedding. Some of the customs of a Mexican wedding originated in ancient Jewish and Pagan worship, adopted by the early Catholic Church.
The flower girl and ring bearers are dressed as miniature versions of the bride and groom. The madrina de ramo carries flowers for the Virgin Mary. The madrina de laso carries a jeweled or beaded rope that is placed around the couple as they say their vows to symbolize their union.
Ring of Promise
In some cities of northern Mexico, there is the tradition of giving a ring called "ring of promise" prior to the ring of commitment. This ceremony takes place sometimes up to a year before giving the ring one of commitment. Ring of promise is generally given in case of long engagements.
Sponsors of an Engaged Couple in Mexico
A very unique custom is followed in Mexican Wedding. Here, a couple getting married in a traditional way is sponsored financially by their Godparents who act as padrinos, sponsors of the wedding. These Godparents are mentors to the bride and groom throughout their engagement and even after they are married. The bride and groom honor them with a place in the wedding program. The padrinos may present the couple with a rosary and a Bible during their wedding ceremony.
Prayers before Wedding
Just before leaving the home for the wedding ceremony, the bride's mother (or parents) offers a special prayer with the bride.
Mexican Wedding Ceremony
One unique custom of the Mexican Wedding is that it is customary for a Mexican groom to give his wife a wedding present of thirteen gold coins or arrhea. These coins are blessed by the priest during the marriage ceremony. The gesture of presenting gold coins signifies the groom's commitment to support his new wife and his unquestionable trust and confidence. Acceptance of these coins by the bride means taking that trust and confidence unconditionally with total dedication and prudence. The other very special and peculiar custom of Mexican Wedding ceremony is that during the marriage vows, a white ribbon or rosary, called a "lasso", is wrapped around the necks of the couple to symbolize their joining.
When the rituals of a Mexican wedding are over the madrina de copas carries the wineglasses for the toast. Madrinas or padrinos carry a prayer book, a rosary, a guest book for signatures and an embroidered pillow to commemorate the day. There also is a madrina de velacion, who the bride has chosen to turn to for guidance throughout her married life. Godparents of the bride and bridegroom give the couple a prayer book, a rosary and a kneeling pillow for the ceremony.
The last persons in the procession carry the recuerdos, which are remembrances given to the guests. In addition there can be several sets of wedding sponsors, similar to godparents, who look after the couple promising them financial and spiritual aid.
Kissing the Cross
Following the ritual, the priest makes the sign of the cross over the groom's head. The groom kisses the cross. The bride kisses the cross. This gesture represents the swearing of faithfulness to one another. Later, when the newlyweds leave the church, red beads are tossed at them in a belief that it will bring good luck to the couple.
Another customary and a very delightful part of the Mexican wedding ceremony is the dollar dance. Each of the guests take a turn dancing with the bride or the groom, and during their short dance, pin a dollar bill (or larger denomination) to their wedding clothing. This unique tradition gives the newly wed couple a start in their new life and presents an opportunity to spend some time with all their guests.
Mexican Wedding receptions are always family oriented and festive. Special feature of the reception is the bridal couple's first dance. All guests join hands to form a heart shape around the newly wed couple as they get ready for their first dance together as husband and wife. A Latin flare is added to the reception by salsa, merengue and the flamenco guitar music.
A popular tradition followed at a Mexican wedding reception is the suspension of a paper maché container known as a pinata from the ceiling. Pinata is usually shaped like a heart or an animal and is filled with candies and is hung by a string. Children swat this at and when it breaks, the candy falls out and is shared among the guests. The Mexican wedding cake is, usually, a fruitcake that has been soaked in rum. Popular favors could be wedding cookies wrapped in tulle, Spanish fans, note cards of Mexican painters, or pieces of pottery.