20 Mexican wedding traditions, customs & rituals: A festive guide

Have you been invited to a wedding in Mexico, or perhaps you’re getting ready to tie the knot? You can’t miss any of these Mexican wedding traditions!

They say love is its own language, so why would weddings be any different in a Spanish-speaking country? Well, Mexican weddings can show you a version of the ceremony that you may not be familiar with.

Although Spanish is one of the Romance languages, that’s not what makes Mexican weddings especially romantic. Mexican culture has countless traditions that make weddings — and everything that comes before the big event — so meaningful and special.

So, whether you’re ready to say I love you in Spanish and pop the big question or have been invited to a beautiful beach wedding in Mexico, this cultural article will cover everything you need to know about Mexican traditions in weddings.

Mexican wedding.

Preparing for a Mexican wedding

Planning for a Mexican wedding is an exciting process, albeit one that will drive almost any bride and any groom (temporarily) nuts. From seeking parental consent to involving the entire family in the preparations, each step is a testament to the value placed on family ties and traditions.

Parental consent

In traditional Mexican culture, parental consent isn’t just a formality — it’s a deeply respected practice that signifies the union of two families. Before making any wedding plans, it’s customary for the couple to seek the blessing of their parents. This step is seen as a sign of respect and as a way to involve the parents closely in the journey towards marriage.

La Pedida: The formal proposal

“La Pedida” or “the asking” is a formal proposal event where the groom’s family visits the bride’s family to formally ask for her hand in marriage. The family isn’t only about the proposal but also serves as an opportunity for both families to meet and discuss the upcoming wedding plans. It’s a beautiful tradition that underscores the communal nature of marriage in Mexican culture, fostering a bond between the families right from the start.

Family involvement

In Mexican weddings, family involvement is essential. Each member plays a specific role in wedding preparations, from choosing the date to deciding on the menu. Families work together to make sure the wedding reflects their traditions and values. “Los padrinos” (godparents) are chosen for special duties, but more on that below. This collective effort not only lightens the financial burden for the newlyweds but also strengthens the sense of community and belonging among the families.

Who pays for the wedding?

Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the wedding rings, the religious ceremony, the bride’s wedding dress, and the couple’s honeymoon. The bride’s family, on the other hand, pays for the wedding reception. However, lately, both families contribute to the wedding expenses, creating a sense of shared investment in the couple’s future.

Attire in traditional Mexican weddings

Attire plays a crucial role in Mexican weddings. Both bride and groom wear outfits that incorporate Mexican traditional elements like intricate embroidery and symbolic designs. And even if you’re just attending as a guest, you can’t show up to a Mexican wedding wearing just anything — you have to bring your A-game to dazzle the couple and guests alike.

Mexican wedding attire.

Traditional Mexican wedding dresses

Traditional Mexican wedding dresses are known for their elegance and attention to detail. They’re typically made from fabrics like silk and cotton and often feature elaborate embroidery that symbolizes the bride’s heritage. Lace and hand-stitched floral patterns are common, adding a layer of depth and beauty to the attire.

It’s also common for Mexican brides to continue the tradition of wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Much like in other cultures, this tradition symbolizes different aspects of the bride’s journey into marriage:

  • Something old: Represents continuity and the bride’s connection to her past and her family. It’s a nod to her life before marriage and the experiences that have shaped her, often manifesting as a piece of family jewelry or an heirloom passed down through generations.
  • Something new: Symbolizes optimism for the future and the new life the couple will embark on together. It’s often the wedding dress or a gift from the groom, signifying fresh beginnings and shared hopes.
  • Something borrowed: This is meant to bring the bride good luck by borrowing from a married friend or relative whose marriage is admired for being happy and enduring. This item is thought to transfer some of that marital happiness and success to the new bride.
  • Something blue: This color stands for purity, love, and fidelity — all key elements for a solid marital foundation. This could be a discreet accessory or garment detail, incorporating this as a symbol of loyalty and dedication into the celebration.

Traditional Mexican Groom’s suit

The traditional Mexican groom’s suit often includes a “charro” or “mariachi” suit, which is a sophisticated and highly decorated outfit that pays homage to Mexican cowboys. Made from fine materials like suede or cashmere, these suits feature silver buttons, elaborate embroidery, and sombreros.

Other regions, like coastal regions and the Yucatán Peninsula, will instead opt for more relaxed attire. The guayaberas are traditional Mexican shirts characterized by their lightweight fabric, distinctive embroidery, and four front pockets. They’re celebrated for their elegance and comfort, making them perfect for a relaxed seaside wedding.

However, not all Mexican weddings involve traditional garments. Most grooms in modern weddings in large cities like Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey simply use a fitted, high-quality tuxedo for their wedding day.

What do guests wear to a Mexican wedding?

So, you’ve been invited to a Mexican wedding but don’t know what to wear? Fear not! We’ll tell you everything you need to know about choosing the perfect outfit for a wedding. However, the first thing you need to know is that city weddings tend to be very different from beach weddings, so we’ll break down our tips into two sections:

City wedding

City weddings are on the formal side, especially if they’re in the bigger cities of Mexico City, Monterrey or Guadalajara. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

City wedding attire for women:
  1. Choose elegant dresses: Knee-high or longer dresses in vibrant colors are ideal. Traditional Mexican patterns can add a beautiful touch but are neither required nor expected.
  2. Choose fabrics carefully: Some cities in Mexico can get extremely warm, so you’ll want breathable fabrics like cotton or silk to stay comfortable while looking sophisticated.
  3. Accessorize wisely: Accessories are a must in Mexican weddings, so you’ll want to complete your look with statement jewelry like silver earrings or a colorful necklace. A stylish clutch and matching shoes can help you polish your outfit.
  4. Bring a shawl for the ceremony: If your shoulders or back are uncovered, then you’ll want to bring a shawl or pashmina to the formal ceremony for added formality.
  5. Hair and makeup: Finally, you’ll definitely want to get your hair and makeup done professionally on the big day. Opt for a chic updo or soft curls. Makeup can be bold but tasteful, with colors that complement your dress.
City wedding attire for men:
  1. Suit up: A well-fitted suit is perfect for a city wedding. Dark colors like navy, gray, or black are traditional and elegant choices.
  2. Shoes matter: Choose polished dress shoes that match your suit. Leather loafers or lace-ups are both appropriate and stylish.
  3. Accessorize with care: A tasteful watch, cuff links, and a belt that matches your shoes can elevate your look. Consider a pocket square for a pop of color.
  4. Grooming is key: Make sure your hair is neatly styled and any facial hair is well-groomed. A clean, sharp look complements formal attire perfectly.

Beach wedding

If you’ve been invited to a wedding in Mexico, chances are that it’s happening along one of its thousands of miles of coastline. If that’s the case, you’re in for a treat! Here’s what to wear to a beautiful beach wedding in Mexico:

Beach wedding attire for women:
  1. Opt for light fabrics: Choose a flowing dress made from light materials like chiffon or linen to stay cool and comfortable.
  2. Embrace color and patterns: Bright colors or tropical prints can perfectly match the beach setting. Pastels also work beautifully against the backdrop of the sea, especially if it’s a sunset wedding!
  3. Choose the right footwear: Consider sandals or wedges that won’t sink into the sand. Decorative flats are also a great option for beach terrain.
  4. Accessorize with simplicity: Opt for minimalist jewelry, like a delicate necklace or bangle. A sunhat and sunglasses can add both style and sun protection.
  5. Natural hair and makeup: keep your hair and makeup simple and natural, embracing the beach waves or with a soft updo to combat the sea breeze.
Beach wedding attire for women:
  1. Lightweight suits: A lightweight suit or lightweight blazer paired with chinos is ideal. Choose light colors like beige, light blue, or gray.
  2. Consider guayaberas: A high-quality, light-colored guayabera is a perfect choice for a beachside Mexican wedding. Shop local for a high-quality guayabera and to support local artists!
  3. Footwear: Leather sandals or loafers can be suitable for walking on sand while maintaining a polished, stylish look.
  4. Minimal accessories: A stylish pair of sunglasses and a simple watch or bracelet is all you need. Avoid heavy layering of accessories.
  5. Grooming for the beach: Opt for a relaxed hairstyle that can handle the sea breeze, and ensure any facial hair is neatly trimmed.

Mexican traditional wedding ceremony rituals

Mexican traditional wedding ceremony rituals.

Las arras matrimoniales: Exchange of coins

The couple exchanges 13 coins during the ceremony, known as “arras.” These coins symbolize the groom’s commitment to support his bride and, jointly, their shared responsibility for wealth and the well-being of their future household. It’s like saying, “What’s mine is yours,” but with a tangible token that represents trust, prosperity, and teamwork. What a powerful gesture!

The lazo ceremony: Binding of the couple

During the lazo ceremony, a large loop of rosary beads or a ribbon is placed in a figure-eight around the couple’s shoulders. Unlike other parts of a Mexican wedding, this isn’t just for fun or for show — it symbolizes the couple’s eternal bond and unity, literally tying the knot in a way that is both visually beautiful and deeply symbolic. The lazo, typically blessed by a priest, remains draped over the couple as they take their vows, serving as a visual representation of their bond and commitment to support, love, and respect each other in their journey ahead.

The presentation of the Bible and rosary

In Catholic Mexican weddings, presenting the couple with a Bible and rosary is a meaningful gesture that emphasizes the importance of faith in their married life. The Bible signifies the role of God’s word as a guide for their relationship, while the rosary represents their dedication to prayer and spiritual growth together. This tradition highlights the couple’s commitment to building their marriage on a foundation of faith by giving them the tools to do so.

Los Padrinos — The Godparents

Padrinos, or godparents, are essential parts of any Mexican wedding ritual. To say that they’re the VIPs of the wedding is an understatement, as they play crucial roles in not just the ceremony but the couple’s life. Chosen for their wisdom and relationship with the bride and groom, padrinos may sponsor various aspects of the wedding, such as:

  • Velación: Los padrinos de Velación guide the couple spiritually throughout their marriage, a role that emphasizes long-term support and mentorship in the couple’s spiritual journey together.
  • Anillo: Los padrinos de anillo are responsible for the wedding rings, symbolizing the couple’s eternal love and commitment to each other.
  • Arras: Los padrinos de arras provide the 13 coins for the arras ceremony, representing the groom’s pledge to support and cherish his bride.
  • Lazo: Los padrinos de lazo present the lazo or rosary used in the ceremony, symbolizing the unbreakable bond and unity of the couple.
  • Ramo: Los padrinos de ramo are in charge of the bride’s bouquet (or three; keep reading to learn why), signifying fertility and the beauty of life.
  • Biblia y rosario: Los padrinos de biblia y rosario gift the Bible and rosary, underlining the importance of faith and prayer in the couple’s life together.
  • Cojines: Los padrinos de cojines provide the cushions used for kneeling during the ceremony, offering comfort and support as the couple commits to their vows before God.

Other Mexican wedding traditions

Mexican weddings are nothing if not personalized, and there are dozens and dozens of common rituals and traditions that couples can choose from.

  • La víbora del mar: Playing the “sea snake” game is almost like playing conga line at a wedding, but way cooler. Guests hold hands, weaving around tables and chairs, ducking under a human tunnel formed by the bride and the groom. It’s all about fun, laughter, and dodging those sneaky low bridges!
  • Three different bouquets: A bride with not one, but three bouquets? Yep, there’s no such thing as “enough” in Mexican culture. One bouquet is for tossing at the single ladies, another’s a gift to the Virgin Mary, and the last one is for the bride. It’s a beautiful mix of fun, faith, and tradition, all connected through flowers.
  • La marcha fúnebre: This one’s a bit of a playful prank. During the reception, guests might “kidnap” the bride, and the groom must “pay” to get her back, often with a fun, mock funeral march tune. It’s all in good fun, adding a unique twist to celebrations.
  • El baile del billete: This dance is all about showering the newlyweds with cash. Guests pin bills on the bride and groom as they dance, symbolizing wishes for prosperity.
  • El zapato del dinero: Think of it as a fun, financial pit stop during the dance floor marathon. The bride’s shoe gets passed around for guests to fill with money, symbolizing well-wishes for wealth and happiness. It’s like crowdfunding, but with more dancing and way more fun.
  • Breaking a crystal object: Smashing a glass or crystal object isn’t just for dramatic effect — it’s believed to bring luck. Whether it’s a glass on the floor or a plate against a wall, this tradition is all about breaking away from the past and ushering in a bright, prosperous future together.

Food and drink at Mexican weddings

Of course, no Mexican wedding would be complete without an immense amount of delicious food. Mexican cuisine is anything but low-key, so you can expect lots of delicious treats when you attend a Mexican wedding. Here are some staples:

Mexican wedding food such as mole poblano, chiles en nogada and pozole.

Traditional wedding foods

Yes, we’re all here to celebrate the married couple, but let’s be real, food is also one of the main reasons why we love coming to weddings — especially Mexican ones. You can expect some of the following meals when you attend a Mexican wedding:

  • Mole Poblano: This rich, complex sauce made with chocolate, chiles, and spices, typically served over chicken or turkey. It’s a celebratory dish, making it an excellent choice for weddings.
  • Chiles en nogada: Poblano peppers are stuffed with picadillo (ground beef with fruits and spices), topped with a walnut-based cream sauce and pomegranate seeds, representing the Mexican flag’s colors.
  • Pozole: A hearty dish made with corn, meat (usually pork), and garnished with lettuce, radish, onion, and lime. Pozole is a festive dish, perfect for serving a crowd.
  • Shrimp: Grilled or sautéed with garlic and herbs, shrimp can be served as a part of a scrumptious main course. Perfect for weddings, they offer a versatile option that can be dressed up in cocktail attire or served in a lavish paella, pleasing seafood lovers.
  • Chicken breasts: Chicken breasts offer a versatile canvas for a wide range of flavors, from stuffed and baked with fine herbs and cheese to grilled with a light adobo marinade. Their universal appeal, versatility, and affordability make them a practical and delicious choice for wedding menus.
  • Pasta: Pasta is a crowd-pleaser with endless possibilities, from creamy Alfredo penne to spicy rigatoni. It can be customized to suit vegetarian or hearty meat preferences, making it ideal for inclusive wedding receptions with diverse tastes.
  • Salmon: Oven-baked or pan-seared salmon, crispy on the outside and tender inside, offers a healthy and flavorful option for wedding meals. Its versatility allows for various preparations, like glazed with honey mustard or topped with a dill cream sauce.

Wedding drinks

If you’ve read about Mexican traditions and festivals, then you know there’s one thing Mexican people love more than anything: a good party! And weddings are the perfect chance to celebrate with some delicious Mexican drinks.

Although you might expect to see tequila at weddings (and you will!), that’s not the only celebratory drink that is common on these special occasions. Whiskey, rum, mezcal, wine, and beer are also extremely common at any Mexican wedding.

In fact, if you’re planning a Mexican wedding, one critical part of ensuring that your party is one for the books is making sure there are enough drinks for everyone. In fact, according to the experts, you should account for at least one drink per adult per hour.

That means that if you plan for an 8-hour party with 100 adult guests, you should plan for about 800 drinks! Considering an average drink has 45ml in it and an average bottle of alcohol has 750ml, you’d need around 50 bottles of alcohol for a party of 100 guests. That’s the way Mexicans like to party!

Mexican wedding cakes

Mexican wedding cakes are just as dramatic as every other part of the celebration. They stand out for their rich flavors and multiple layers. A common choice is pastel de tres leches, a moist cake soaked in three types of milk. another fan-favorite is pastel de almendras, an almond-flavored delight that offers a nutty, sophisticated taste. These cakes are often adorned with elaborate decorations, including fresh flowers and colorful icing.

Music and dance at Mexican weddings

Music and dance are the lifeblood of Mexican weddings, bringing joy and energy to the celebration. From the heartfelt serenades of a mariachi band to the vibrant beats that fill the dance floor late into the night, music is crucial for creating the festive atmosphere that Mexican weddings are renowned for.

Mariachi band playing at a Mexican wedding.

Mariachi tradition at every Mexican wedding

No Mexican wedding is complete without the iconic sound of mariachi. This traditional ensemble features violins, trumpets, a guitar, and sometimes a harp, delivering a repertoire that ranges from romantic to lively and engaging. The mariachi performance isn’t just musical entertainment but also a cultural homage, involving interactive performances where guests sing along and even request special songs. The presence of a mariachi band elevates the emotional tone of the wedding, making it an almost unmissable part of any Mexican wedding.

Dance at a Mexican wedding

Dancing is an inevitable part of any Mexican wedding, as dance is considered one of the most genuine forms of celebration in Mexican culture. Following traditions, “El Caballo Dorado” is an unmissable wedding dance. If you’re attending a Mexican wedding soon, you must learn this fun dance as soon as possible so you can partake in the communal dance when they inevitably play it. Here’s a video of this dance from a real Mexican wedding:

Top 5 most popular Mexican musicians at weddings

Mexican weddings will play all kinds of music, including many international hits that you’re surely familiar with. However, a big chunk of the music will invariably be by famous Mexican musicians. Here are the top 5 Mexican musicians for weddings so you can get a head start on the wedding playlist:

1. Vicente Fernández

Known as “El Rey de la Música Ranchera” (The King of Ranchera Music), Vicente Fernández’s powerful voice and heartfelt lyrics capture the essence of Mexican passion. His songs, often tales of love, sorrow, and pride, resonate deeply with Mexican people, making them a staple at weddings for moments of reflection or celebration. Also known as Chente, his music creates an emotional connection even with those who are wholly unfamiliar. Give this video a try and see what we mean:

2. Luis Miguel

Known as “El Sol de México” (The Sun of Mexico), Luis Miguel shines bright in the realm of Latin music with his smooth vocals and romantic ballads. His extensive catalog, ranging from boleros to mariachi to pop, offers the perfect soundtrack for love at Mexican weddings. Just take a look at the following video and you’ll have no doubts why Luismi is so popular in weddings all over Mexico:

3. Juan Gabriel

As far as musical legends go, it doesn’t get much better than Juan Gabriel. His heartfelt compositions and dynamic performances have left an indelible mark on Mexican music, and his ability to blend traditional Mexican sounds with pop, rock, and ballads makes his music universally loved. At weddings, his songs often serve as anthems of love and joy, encouraging guests to sing along and celebrate the power of love with gusto.

We dare you to watch the following performance without crying, even just a little. No cheating!

4. Selena Quintanilla

Selena Quintanilla, “Queen of Tejano” brings an infectious energy to any wedding celebration with her upbeat rhythms and charismatic voice. Her music, a blend of Tejano, cumbia, and pop, invites guests to the dance floor with its lively beats and relatable lyrics. Selena’s enduring legacy continues to captivate hearts, making her songs an essential part of any Mexican wedding playlist.

5. Alejandro Fernández

Alejandro Fernández, also known as El Potrillo, follows in the footsteps of his legendary father Vicente Fernández while also carving out his own path in the music world. His blend of traditional ranchera with modern pop elements appeals to both young and old, making his music a universal fan favorite during weddings.

Mexican wedding FAQs

Should you tip waiters at a Mexican wedding?

It depends. In theory, guests aren’t required to tip waiters, especially if the wedding is at an all-inclusive resort. Wedding catering costs also usually include a service charge, which the couple or their families cover.

However, tipping is seen as a kind gesture, and offering extra tips to your table’s waiter is always appreciated. If you want to make sure that you and your table are well taken care of throughout the night, start by giving your waiter a 500 peso (around $30 USD) tip.

Can you wear black to a Mexican wedding?

Yes, it’s completely acceptable to wear black to a Mexican wedding, whether Catholic or not. Just keep in mind that women should wear a shawl or pashmina to cover their backs and shoulders during the church service.

What colors shouldn’t you wear to a Mexican wedding?

You should avoid wearing white or red by any means to any Mexican wedding. Wearing white is considered rude to the bride since they will definitely be wearing white, so choosing to wear the same color on their special day is considered rude. Red, on the other hand, is more of an urban legend. Allegedly, wearing red to someone’s wedding insinuates that you’ve slept with one of the newlyweds. So, avoid red unless you want to start drama!

What time do weddings start in Mexico?

Wedding ceremonies usually start in the afternoon, with the church service happening at 3 or 4 in the afternoon and the reception starting at around 5 or 6 in the evening. These times can move a little bit depending on the geographical location and the time of the year, as they’re timed so the best part of the reception coincides with the sunset — both to create a beautiful ambiance and to take the most spectacular wedding photos.

How long is the average wedding in Mexico?

While the church ceremony is usually only an hour long, receptions can last up to two days. In fact, many Mexican weddings serve dinner and breakfast at the same location, anticipating that guests will stick around until the morning. There is no better way to end a night of nonstop dancing than with a filling Mexican breakfast!

Keep the love going with more Spanish

We hope there’s a Mexican wedding invitation in the mail for you because you’re surely dying to experience your first after this blog! If you don’t have any immediate Mexican wedding plans, why not spend some time in the country to learn Spanish and meet new people? Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky with a cheesy Spanish pickup line, and the next Mexican wedding you attend will be your very own!

And even if love isn’t anywhere on your radar, you can still pick up Spanish for business or just for fun. Check out our Spanish blog to learn more about this wonderful language and to see just how easy it is to learn Spanish with Berlitz.

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