Traditionally, godparents have played an important role in the wedding of a godchild, whether a goddaughter or godson. This is especially so in wedding ceremonies involving persons of Latin or Hispanic heritage. The godparents of a bride have diverse responsibilities, according to custom. In more recent times, godparents’ responsibilities have tended to diminish.
According to Latin and Hispanic customs, the godparents of the bride are responsible for the costs of the wedding, even if the bride’s parents are living. The godparents cover the costs of the ceremony and the reception, but they are not responsible for superfluous expenses, such as a rehearsal dinner or honeymoon vacation, which are typically handled by the groom’s side. These days, godparents are typically not expected to cover the costs of the wedding, but it is common for godparents to make a significant contribution or monetary gift to assist the bride’s parents with expenses. For instance, the godparents may offer to pay for flowers, the bride’s dress or the wedding cake.
Because a wedding is a religious ritual as well as a cultural tradition, godparents have spiritual obligations. At baptism, godparents promise to pray for the goddaughter and act as spiritual advisers throughout her life. They are to provide spiritual support, guidance and prayer to the goddaughter as she receives sacraments, including First Communion, confirmation and matrimony. When a bride prepares to receive the sacrament of matrimony, her godparents are expected to offer words of spiritual encouragement and to pray for her during this important moment in her religious life and after the wedding, during her married life.
According to some Latin traditions, the godparents play a small role in the ceremony. For instance, they may present the bride and groom with a rosary and Bible during the ceremony. This rosary will be used to recite a decade during the ceremony, and the Bible will be used for scripture readings during the ceremony. The godparents may also process last down the aisle to exit the church, acting as remembrance-bearers and distributing memorabilia (or rice or birdseed) to the guests.
It is customary for godparents to handle other tasks during the ceremony or reception as well. If the bride’s father is no longer living, the padrino (godfather) may walk the bride down the aisle. At the reception, the madrina (godmother) carries the wine glass that is used for the toast. She also embroiders (or provides) a kneeling pillow that is used during the ceremony.
Audrey Farley began writing professionally in 2007. She has been featured in various issues of "The Mountain Echo" and "The Messenger." Farley has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Richmond and a Master of Arts in English literature from Virginia Commonwealth University. She teaches English composition at a community college.