Traditional Mexican Wedding. As regards customs prior to the wedding, many ancient traditions are still in place.
When considering the customs of Mexican culture, one cannot fail to note the role that weddings play in the celebrations of the country. They are a unique affair with roots based in Aztec culture, but with influences of both Spanish and Catholic customs, for example due to the growing strength of Catholicism in Mexican culture, weddings now tend to take place in a church, rather than in the bride's home as was traditional in the past. The strength of Mexican family values makes these weddings all the more significant as it is a large indicator of the emphasis placed on the importance of loved ones.
As regards customs prior to the wedding, many ancient traditions are still in place; for example the practice of the man asking his future fiancées family for her hand in marriage. Some elements of the engagement have however become very much a thing of the past, for example the idea of seclusion for the future bride during the engagement, or the need for the family’s to make a formal agreement, however the tradition of a long commitment prior to the wedding and of course of a ring is still important. Another element that is key to note is that of the padrinos and madrinas. After the engagement is announced, each couple has to choose a set of Godparents, a large honour for those selected, who they consider wise as advisors for their marriage, and who will be there in times of trouble and as aids and counsellors for problems. Traditionally they give the couple a rosary and a bible as a wedding gift as a symbol of their support and approval, and are subsequently given a special place in the church next to the couple as a sign of respect.
The wedding ceremony begins traditionally as the bride leaves the family home, at which point her mother has to say a prayer to guide and protect her in her new life. In the course of the ceremony, the groom customarily gives the bride 13 blessed gold coins to signify his material possessions and wealth that he will share with her, as well his unwavering trust in her. In taking this gift, the bride is signifying her part in the marriage of taking care of him, and of making their home. Following the service a white ribbon or rosary ´el lazo’ is looped around the couple’s wrists to signify an unbreakable bond of love and trust. The service ends as the guests throw red beads at the couple as a type of confetti, that are thought to bring good luck to the newly married couple.
In contrast to this somewhat calm and poignant service, in a traditional Mexican wedding the reception is a celebratory mix of music, dance and drink. Traditional Mexican food and drink is served, with commemorative sangria as a necessity. Furthermore dishes such as tortillas, chicken, rice and beans are central to the wedding feast, allowing the base elements of the culture to be enjoyed together with the celebration of the event. Piñatas are also apparent as a distraction for the children amongst the guests, as well as containing goodies to be shared around once it has been broken.
The first dance, as for every culture, is an important element of the wedding and possibly the high point of the reception, as it signifies very much the start of their new life together. At a Mexican wedding the guest encircle the couple in the shape of a heart as they dance together. The Dollar Dance is another significant element of the marriage tradition as the guests are each given a chance to dance with the couple and then pin up a dollar bill as a symbol of a personal blessing for the new couple’s future.