Mexican wedding traditions date back to ancient Aztec times of the 14th and 15th centuries. Many of the Catholic customs were introduced when the Spanish came to Mexico and conquered the Aztec Empire in 1521. Several of these traditions have been passed down through generations of Mexican families for centuries.
Mexican Catholic couples usually participate in a pre-marriage preparation course, given at their local church, to make sure they are prepared for their married life together. The course is generally completed within a few hours, and consists mostly of talking through issues with your church's priest, such as when they want to have their first child together, the stresses involved with marriage and raising a family, and the role of faith within a marriage. Depending on your church or situation, your priest may require additional counseling before the wedding takes place. The course also attempts to provide the couple with a realistic vision of what married life will be like.
El Padrino y La Madrina (Godparents)
Traditionally, the couple chooses their godparents, who will advise and guide them throughout their engagement, wedding ceremony, and all throughout their lives. It is considered a great honor to be chosen as a "padrino" or "madrina." The padrinos and madrinas are sponsors for the wedding; at the very least, they provide the couple with a Bible and rosary as a way to bless the marriage. They also have a special place near the bride and groom during the ceremony.
There is also another kind of madrina: "La Madrina de Ramo," a young female child who brings a special bouquet of flowers to be given to the Virgin Mary during the ceremony.
The Bride's Prayer Before the Ceremony
At a traditional Mexican Catholic wedding, the mother of the bride or both her parents say a prayer to bless the bride and her husband-to-be with a prosperous new life together. The bride sometimes takes part in saying the prayer as well. It is the mother's (or parents') way of blessing the wedding and honoring her daughter formally.
Thirteen Gold Coins
One of the most popular Mexican Catholic wedding traditions is the 13 gold coins or arras. In this tradition, the groom presents the bride with 13 gold coins that are blessed by the priest during the ceremony. The coins represent the groom's certitude and indisputable trust. It is also considered a declaration of the groom's possessions. When the bride accepts the grooms' coins, she commits to honor his certitude and trust. Often the coins have been in the family for generations and are passed down at each wedding.
The Kneeling Pillow and El Lazo (The Lasso)
The kneeling pillow is a special pillow for the couple provided by a designated bridesmaid. The couple spends most of the ceremony kneeling on the pillow at a traditional Catholic mass.
The lasso is a large rosary or white ribbon. It is placed in a figure-eight shape around the bride and grooms' necks or around their wrists during the ceremony. This symbolizes the couples' union and unbreakable bond of their love and trust.