15 Fascinating Hispanic Wedding Traditions You Didn’t Know About
Contrary to belief, Hispanic wedding traditions can differ greatly from North American wedding traditions.
And, honestly, I am surprised I didn’t think about that before!
What we know as a traditional Hispanic wedding has evolved with time, and depending on what country you are visiting, you might find some differences, but most of the time some core traditions remain and are practiced in many countries.
Are you planning to attend a Hispanic wedding? Or you are curious about how people celebrate love in Hispanoamerica? Are you planning your wedding and want some new ideas to celebrate? Whatever the reason, this blog post is for you!
Let’s learn about the different Hispanic wedding traditions that are still followed by Hispanoamericans all around the world, what they consist of and how to enjoy them!
15 Hispanic Wedding Traditions You Will Love
When los novios (the bride and the groom) plan their wedding, they also plan what traditions they want to follow.
Some follow them all al pie de la letra (verbatim), and others give their own twist to those traditions, making them their own. But in the end, the core of the traditions remains, and you can find yourself falling in love with them every time.
So, let’s learn all about some of the most popular Hispanic wedding traditions you can witness in Hispanic weddings!
1. A Civil Wedding (La boda civil)
La boda civil, or civil wedding or ceremony, is when couples become legally wed, and while in some places, just one ceremony is enough to become legally and socially wed, in Latin America things are a little bit different.
The civil ceremony is actually a legal requirement and is needed to validate other kinds of ceremonies.
La boda o ceremonia civil is usually attended by the closest friends and family of the couple and is a pretty quick affair, officiated by a lawyer, and it takes place a week before any other ceremony. Although, some couples prefer to do both ceremonies on the same day.
La boda civil is followed by a small reception, with food and drinks to celebrate the occasion.
2. The Godparents (Los padrinos y madrinas)
Los padrinos (godfathers) and las madrinas (godmothers) are special people the couple choose to take part in some of the most important bits of the ceremony.
Traditionally, the godparents are some kind of “sponsors” for items the bride and the groom want in their ceremony, like el lazo o las arras (which we will talk about later). But the godparents are also like mentors for the couple before and after the wedding.
Some grooms and brides ask older couples to be their godparents to learn and let them help navigate the challenges of the newlywed life.
3. The Bridesmaids and the Groomsmen (Las damas y los caballeros)
The concept of damas (bridesmaids) and caballeros (groomsmen) is something relatively new in the Hispanic wedding traditions.
Usually, these roles were fulfilled by the godparents, but in the last few years, it is usual for the couples to have both a party of people that help them through the day, accompanying them from the moment they get ready until after the ceremonies.
Some couples like to have bridesmaids and groomsmen as well as godparents in their weddings and give them all different roles that are important for the wedding to be a success.
Las damas y los caballeros are close friends of the bride and the groom, and lately, it has become really popular for the bride and the groom to “propose” to their bridesmaids and groomsmen being part of their wedding through gifts or small get-togethers.
4. The Marriage Coins (Las arras)
This is one of the oldest and most popular Hispanic catholic wedding traditions that are still practiced to this day.
Las arras are 13 coins made of silver or gold—that the godparents or maids and groomsmen give the couple—and are blessed by a pastor or a priest.
During the wedding ceremony, before the votes, the groom gives las arras to the bride as a way to symbolize his commitment to support her and give her what she needs during their marriage. They also have a religious significance, as a way to represent the relationship of Jesus and his apostles, showing that the couple’s relationship with God is fundamental for a successful marriage.
5. The Wedding Lasso (El lazo)
After las arras ceremony, comes la ceremonia del lazo.
This Hispanic wedding ceremony tradition involves a really long lazo, or lasso. If the couple has a lazo godparents, they are the ones in charge of wrapping it around the couple in the form of a large 8, or giant infinite symbol. If not, a bridesmaid, groomsman, or a family member is the one that puts it around the newlyweds.
This symbolizes the unity between them, and sometimes, the communion between them and God, depending on the couple’s religion.
6. Rings in the Right Hand? (¿Anillos en la mano derecha?)
This Hispanic wedding tradition is really popular in Chile, but has been replicated in other countries as well!
Usually, engaged couples wear their wedding rings on the right hand until the ceremony, where they move them to their left hands.
Is so simple but so romantic!
7. Rice Rain (Lluvia de arroz)
After shedding a few tears during the ceremony, it is time to move!
Is a Hispanic wedding tradition that the guests move outside of the church or whatever place the ceremony was held to wait for the newlyweds—who usually take a little bit more time to go outside to take some pictures or greet other guests—and then shower them with rice.
This symbolizes fertility and good fortune and is a really fun way to end the ceremony.
While rice is the tradition, some people prefer to throw bird seeds, confetti, or rose petals.
8. The Bride Wore What?! (¿¡La novia usó qué!?)
It is usual on this side of the world that when a wedding takes place, the bride wears a white dress to symbolize purity, but that is not the norm around the world.
This Hispanic wedding tradition in Spain shows us just that!
In Spain, it is usual for the brides to wear a black wedding dress! And it symbolizes that from that moment on, only death can separate them from their partners.
9. The Reception (La recepción)
La recepción (reception) is a fiesta (party).
A lot of people decide to show only to it and join the newlyweds in their celebrations, while others prefer to skip it, knowing it is a long affair. Some recepciones are so long that they turn into a tornaboda, which is a more intimate party where it is customary to serve breakfast for those that partied all night long in the reception!
The music in the reception differs from the couple’s taste, but there are some Hispanic wedding songs, from artists like Luis Miguel or Selena to reggaeton. But there are some classics that can’t be skipped, like: La Macarena, Caballito de Palo, or el Meneaito, which have their own easy-to-follow choreographies and are crowd favorites!
You also eat dinner during the reception, and, believe it or not, there is traditional Hispanic wedding food, like tamales, stews, a lot of dishes with rice and beans. Honestly, it depends on the country it takes place in. Dinner can be served late at night, so be prepared to wait for your food while you dance the night away.
It is usual in Hispanic weddings for the cake to be cut and served after midnight, with a good cup of coffee, and then, you can keep dancing or retire.
10. The Wedding Bell (La campana)
This is a Hispanic wedding reception tradition in Guatemala, where the family of whoever is hosting the reception fill a big wooden bell with rice, flour, and any kinds of grains to symbolize prosperity, and when the newlyweds arrived, they break the bell to shower them with all the things contained en la campana (bell)
11. Cake and Ribbons (Pastel y cintas)
Throwing the flower bouquet is a wedding tradition in a lot of places around the world, but this one is a Hispanic wedding tradition that has become more and more popular during the last few years.
Instead of throwing flowers, the bride prepares a special cake that will hold several pieces of ribbon. One of the pieces is marked in a special way, and whoever gets this one is the next single lady that will get married.
12. Bachelor Shoes (Los zapatos de los solteros)
There are some fun wedding activities for the gentlemen too!
While in some places it is common for the groom to throw the bride’s garter for the single men to catch it and decide who is the next groom-to-be, it can be uncomfortable for some people.
So, here is a great Colombian wedding tradition to take place instead of the other one!
In this one, all the single men have to hide their shoes under the bride’s wedding dress, and then the groom reaches under her dress to select a pair of shoes, and whoever shoes get selected, will be the next one to tie the knot.
13. Money Dance (El baile del billete)
Weddings are expensive. And honeymoons too! But there is a great solution to it!
In this Hispanic wedding tradition the guests “pin” money on the bride and the groom for a chance to dance with them. Depending on how much money the guest gives, that’s how many songs they dance to.
14. Cake To Go (Pastel para llevar)
While waiting for the cake is what keeps a lot of people in the receptions, in the Dominican Republic they do things a little bit differently.
Instead of eating it at midnight, or after dinner like in other countries, in this charming island, the hosts give their guests their cake to take home and enjoy it in the coziness of their own house.
15. The Disappearing Act (La desaparición)
This is a really fun idea!
While it is practiced in a lot of Hispanic countries, it is one of the favorite traditions in Venezuela!
The idea is for the bride and the groom to sneak away from their own reception late into the night. If they manage to do it without getting caught, they will have good luck. And whoever notices they are missing first will also have good luck in the future.
Is like ninja hide and seek! Cool!
You May Now… Begin To Study Spanish!
Hispanoamerica is so diverse that there are so many more wedding traditions that one post is not enough to cover them!
So, if you are planning to attend a Hispanic wedding, keep an eye out for so many other ways Hispanic people celebrate their weddings!
Just in the United States there are approximately 53 million people who speak Spanish, and according to CNN, there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US who speak Spanish in their homes, so there is a great chance that you may know a Hispanic that is about to get married and invite you to their wedding! Learning Spanish can help you to connect and enjoy these weddings even more!
Or maybe you are planning on attending a Hispanic wedding in Latin America or Spain! And if that is the case, learning Spanish can be a great help to demolish the language barriers and let you connect better with the locals and understand their traditions better.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up today for a free 1-to-1 class with a certified native Spanish-speaking teacher at Homeschool Spanish Academy. Check out our programs and take a peek at our affordable prices and begin this new adventure with us!
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