TRADITIONAL MEXICAN WEDDING
In a traditional Mexican wedding, there are two very different ceremonies, a religious mass (misa) and the civil ceremony. The civil ceremony is the legal one and the church wedding, although traditional, costs money. At the appointed hour the family, lead by the priest, start a procession into the church with the bride entering last with her father. There are no groomsmen and bridesmaids . Instead there are padrinos and/or madrinas, godparents to the bridal couple, who stand up for them at the altar during the ceremony. But they might also take care of and/or pay for certain elements of the wedding, like the photographer, or the meal, the tequila, the cake or even the honeymoon!
The church mass is a formal affair and it takes about an hour and it is a fairly solemn proceeding. It’s a traditional mass, but the priest tries to say something special relating to the wedding and about love and marriage. But, of course, new technology has prevailed and the priests in a large church use a microphone so everyone can hear. The music is joyous and beautiful, as in all Mexican church services -even funerals. However, the music costs extra and the bridal couple can choose which music (and how elaborate) they want depending upon what they can afford . One of the beautiful parts of the mass is a prayer called Padre Nuestro (Our Father), which supposedly Jesus taught to the disciples. The congregation participates in this prayer with outstretched arms and hands.
During the ceremony, at one point, the godparents put a lasso (of any material) around the couple, which symbolizes a link that holds the couple together and also ties the couple forever with the padrinos. The padrino also gives them a bible, as a symbol of giving them the word of God. At one point, the groom gives silver coins (called arras) to the bride that symbolizes the money or wealth that he will be supplying to her, to maintain and administer the household.
After the ceremony, there is a signing of the church register, which records all the couples who marry in the church. Another tradition, is an offering of the bride’s flowers to the Virgin, so that she will protect their marriage.
After the ceremony the newlyweds pose for pictures of the family and friends. Everyone who wants a photo with the Bride & Groom goes up to the altar and the photos are taken there, rather than at the tables during the fiesta or dinner.
Later, there is the all important civil ceremony, officiated by a judge, and the signing of the legal document. In most cases a fiesta (a reception/dinner) is held afterwards and usually it goes on for half the night or even continued another day at someone’s home. Like our tradition, there is a “special dance” of the bride and groom. It used to be traditionally a waltz, but as a sign of the times, the couple now may choose any music they like.
One very different tradition is the attachment of paper money to the bride and groom on the dance floor. Friends and family go up to either one of them and attach money to dance with them for a bit until the next person comes to claim them. Since everyone wants a dance with the Bride and Groom, they wind up with quite a bit of money attached to them! This money though is apart from the normal wedding gift.
As for the actual wedding dinner, it depends on the budget of the family (or the padrinos ). There are more formal sit down dinners, comparable to what we are used to, and there are weddings where the food is more buffet style with more traditional Mexican fare. Some weddings are held at event locales, or at a large Mexican restaurant/banquet hall, full of noise and people.
Of course, no wedding would be complete without Mariachis. Mariachi music started in Guadalajara, so it is quite traditional here in this area of Mexico. It can be quite costly, but most couples have mariachis at least for one or two songs even if they don’t have much money. Fancier weddings have a whole group of mariachis to entertain them for quite a while.
Like our tradition, there is a cutting of the cake and also the Bride throws the bouquet to her girlfriends and the groom throws his lapel flower to his friends. A different twist is, after the throwing of the bouquet and flowers, the girls form a line and dance in and out through the tables and the boys do likewise. Later, there is either a small band with a singer, or most likely nowadays, a DJ, playing both Mexican and American music. Everyone dances, even the children (who, typically, are a integral part of the wedding party).
Jill Flyer is an award winning professional photographer who has exhibited in many galleries and museums in the United States and Mexico. She has lived in the Lake Chapala area for many years and gives photography workshop/ tours and teaches photography and Photoshop as well. Visit her website (www.mexploration.net) which includes her online gallery as well as info on all of her photographic services.
Contact Jill at email@example.com or call 766-3025.For more info on Jill’s art, photographic services and workshop/tours, check out her website at http://www.mexploration.net/