The Customs of Traditional Spanish Weddings

Detail of bridal bouquet

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Traditional Spanish weddings are rich with symbolism and cultural significance. Festive and lavish, Spanish weddings are joyful celebrations that emphasize feasting, drinking, dancing and having fun. Although many modern Spanish couples are opting for more westernized weddings, there are still a number of important customs that make Spanish weddings unique. Even if you're not of Spanish heritage, adding some of their traditions to your wedding will make it more memorable and meaningful.


After a man's engagment proposal is accepted, it's traditional for him to gift a wristwatch to the bride's father. This symbolizes his good intentions and his commitment to the marriage.


Orange blossoms are a traditional Spanish wedding flower. They're likely to be incorporated into the bouquets, corsages, headpieces and decorations. They represent a life of happiness and fulfillment.


Spanish brides traditionally wear black silk gowns with intricately designed patterns. The head is covered with a black veil that's held in place by elaborate combs. The groom wears an embroidered shirt made by the bride for him during their engagement. Today, many Spanish brides choose to wear white and grooms opt for tuxes.

Before the Ceremony

It's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding, so it's the father of bride's duty to prevent this from happening by escorting her to the church and keeping her out of sight until the right time. Shortly before the ceremony, the groom escorts his mother up the aisle and waits to see his bride for the first time. The ceremony starts when the bride's father leads her up the aisle and gives her away to the groom.


The majority of traditional Spanish wedding ceremonies takes place in a church. The couple shares their vows, then the groom presents the bride with 13 silver coins in a purse. The coins represent a dowry and the groom's willingness to support his new bride. This is followed by an exchange of rings, which are placed on the ring finger of the right hand. The couple sometimes is wrapped in a lasso to signify their unity and protect the disruption of their new marriage. As they exit the church, the couple is greeted by firecrackers and applause.


Most Spanish wedding ceremonies and receptions take place in the evening. This is largely because the Spanish dinner hour is late in the day. During the reception, there's a great deal of food and dancing. The food typically consists of almond wedding cookies, seafood, an abundance of wine, and a wedding cake filled with fruit or nuts.

The wedding dance is called "sequidillas manchegas." People usually pay the bride to dance and may even bid on her garter. The cash earned by the couple during the reception is meant to help them set up house. Wedding guests are given small favors to thank them for their attendance. The groom shares cigars with the men, while the bride hands out small floral pins to the unmarried ladies. These pins are worn upside-down, and tradition has it that any women who lose their pins during the reception soon will be married.