Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mexican Wedding Customs - Honoring 200 Years of Independence

In Honor of Mexico's 200 Years of Independence!
Traditional weddings in Mexico are full of customs and rituals steeped in Mexican history dating back as far as seven centuries to the ancient Aztecs.  The Spanish introduced Roman Catholic customs, rich in symbolism, prayer and festivity, into an already vibrant Mexican culture and are clearly visible in traditions followed in recent times.  A strong Roman Catholic country, Mexican weddings are huge family events with very traditional roles for madrinas and padrinos and family members, after which couples are considered married for eternity. From the ceremony, almost always held in a Catholic church, to the mariachi music in the ending procession, Mexican weddings are beautiful celebrations of love, culture and tradition.

The Padrinos and the Madrinas
Traditionally, a Mexican couple can choose their god parents, who sponsor the wedding. Being chosen as godparents or the padrinos and madrinas is a matter of great respect for Mexicans. The godparents are considered to be wise people who help and advise the couple all throughout the engagement, and also later when they face problems in their married life. The padrinos and madrinas gift the couple a bible and a rosary as symbol of their blessing. As a mark of respect, the godparents are given a special place by the couple in the wedding ceremony. 

Wedding Attire
The guayabera is the traditional wedding shirt worn by the groom. The shirt style is about 200 years old. It is a very detailed shirt, which includes embroidered panels or pleats sewn close together vertically. The design covers both the front and back. Commonly worn with a tuxedo in a church ceremony, it is also the shirt of choice for Mexican beach weddings. A popular color is white, but other colors can be worn at less formal weddings. 

The bride mostly wears a mantilla veil, or a slim dress with a bolero jacket, or even a Flamenco-style dress with ruffles at the hem.  More and more brides are wearing dresses similar to traditional wedding dresses in the U.S. The difference is that the sleeves are always short, and the wedding dress, like the men's guayabera, is very detailed, with flowers or shapes embroidered by hand. This style of Mexican wedding dress is called a huipil.

Mexican Wedding Lazo
A lazo is a large rosary, a ribbon or a decorated cord that is symbolically draped around the necks or shoulders of the bride and the groom. It is first placed around the groom’s neck or shoulders. It affirms their union and their commitment to always be together side-by-side. The couple wears the lasso throughout the service and at the end of the ceremony; the lasso is removed and is given to the Bride as a keepsake.

Arras Gift - Thirteen Gold Coins
The groom gives his bride thirteen gold coins as a declaration of love and a promise that he will provide well for his bride. Her acceptance of the coins is symbolic of her trust and faith in his promise 
The coins (arras) signify that the groom will always support her and the number 13 represents Christ and his 12 apostles. The groom puts the coins into the bride's cupped hands and places a box on top.

Wedding Food and Music
Traditional Mexican foods include spicy rice, beans, tortilla dishes whose main ingredients are chicken and beef. A cold drink Sangria is served which is made from red or white wine mixed with brandy, sugar, fruit juice and soda water. 

Many believe that a traditional Mexican wedding is not complete without a mariachi band playing the music. The members of a mariachi band, in general, play guitars, drums and trumpets. There are sometimes harps and violins, as well. The bands often dress as cowboys, since mariachi music is a style of Mexican ranch music. For weddings, they may dress in black and silver or white instead. When performing at weddings, mariachis add a festive air to the reception. It is also customary for the band to play as part of the wedding procession when the wedding is ending.

Wedding Expenses
Both families are involved in planning the wedding and help with all the expenses. Traditionally the sponsors of the wedding provide money for the wedding costs, or pay for something specific for the ceremony or the party which follows.

Mexican Wedding Money Dance
Money Dance is a popular tradition across all weddings where male guests “pay” to dance with the bride. However the guests are expected to be generous when “paying” since the money collected is to be used by the newly weds on their honeymoon and for setting a household.

Wedding Colors
The bride is authorized to choose the wedding colors and they dominate. Every thing including cake, site, attire and also the bridal path are reflective of the wedding color thus creating a sense of harmony throughout the event.

Ancient Wedding Traditions
In ancient times, weddings were held in the bride's yard or house. The groom traveled by horse to the bride's house and after the wedding ceremony took his wife in a cart to his parents' house to live.

Primary content: Angela Harris and Connie Whiting 

{Photo Credits: Doily Wedding Cake from Marta’s Cakes in Manila, Philippines, Singer Alejandro Fernandez in Charro Suit by Charros de Mexico Blog, San Miguel de Allende Hacienda “Las Trancas” by Elizabeth Medina Photography, Silk Folding Hand Fan by,Wedding Ring with Orange Tree Branch & Mexican Fire Opal by TheMuses at Flickr, All-Female “Mariachi Divas” from Malibu, CA by Elizabeth Messina Photography via, Wedding Gown Collection Spring 2008 by Oscar de la Renta, Talavera Plate with Sunburst Orange Napkin by Mishka Designs’ Blog, Mexican Wedding Cookies by Oven Haven’s Blog, A Burro {Donkey} Carrying Tequila for Guests by Jim Bastardo via, Traditional Mexican Folklore Dance via Hacienda Las Trancas, Tequila Bar via Photo by Victor Sizemore Photography}

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