Mexican wedding ceremonies are rich in tradition, with the strongest being the role and presence of the family. Other traditions are no less important, though, and among these is the series of vows the bride and the groom exchange during the service.
While the Catholic Church has played an important role in Mexico’s history and cultural development, legal weddings in Mexico are entirely civil services. Church weddings may accompany the civil service, but the marriage is not legal without the civil ceremony. As a result, many couples in Mexico have two wedding services: civil and church. The marriage vows that a couple repeats during a civil ceremony include several important statements.
Certain legal officials have the right to perform civil ceremonies in Mexico, and among these are justices of the peace and judges. In performing the ceremony, they present to the couple a list of 11 items that explain the purpose of marriage and the role of each spouse within the marriage. To each of these statements, the couple agrees with a similar version of the “I do.” In Mexico, they say “Si accepto,” or “I accept this.”
While the ceremony is civil, the vows represent traditional statements that would also be part of religious ceremonies. For instance, the officiant begins by stating that marriage is a moral state and the foundation of family life. The vows continue with statements about the obligation each spouse has toward one another. The husband to protect and nurture his relationship with his wife; the wife to show her husband tenderness and consolation and to provide advice to him. Both spouses are expected to offer each other respect, confidence and faithfulness. The eighth and ninth statements in the vows note that both parties should work to control their faults and support each other instead of insulting each other. The vows wrap up with statements about the blessing of children and the responsibility that husband and wife have to set an example for their children.
The laso is a traditional rope, either beaded or jeweled (or both, in some cases) that is placed around the couple as they say their vows. The rope is intended to symbolize the statement of union and togetherness that the couple is making. The laso tends to be limited to religious or non-civil ceremonies, however, and the wedding officiant in a civil ceremony will not require this item during the service.
The Trece Moneras de Oro
The trece monedas de oro represent another traditional part of the wedding vows for religious (and occasionally civil) ceremonies in Mexico. Translated as “13 gold coins,” these items symbolize Christ and His 12 disciples and are a gift that the groom presents to the bride during the vows. Historically, this was intended to be a statement of the groom promising to endow the bride with everything that is rightfully his – in other words, to give her equal rights to his wealth. In Mexico, the groom pours the coins into his bride’s hand and then gives her a box in which to place them for safekeeping.