A ceremony ina catholic church during a mexican wedding.
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Mexican wedding reception traditions are some of the most elaborate and fun for guests. From dancing to food and a very meticulous wedding ceremony, guests are sure to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’ve never been to one of these weddings, in this post you’ll learn about nine essential Mexican wedding traditions that you’ll most likely experience.

Planning a traditional Mexican wedding? As a wedding photographer, I’ve had a great time photographing several Mexican weddings and weddings of diverse and mixed cultures. If you have any questions or would like to contact me, I’d be happy to connect.

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Padrinos And Madrinas

Padrinos and madrinas are wedding sponsors. Think of them as your wedding godparents. In fact, the tradition actually has roots in the custom of choosing godparents as mentors for baptisms, confirmations and marriages.

Along with providing advice and guidance, padrinos and madrinas make financial contributions in Mexican weddings. They may pay for the engagement party or items needed for the ceremony, such as:

  • El lazo (lasso)
  • Las arras matrimoniales (coins)
  • The Bible used in the ceremony

It is an honor to be chosen to serve as a madrina or padrino. Typically, these individuals are married couples themselves who have watched the bride or groom grow up. You can have multiple madrinas and padrinos. It’s not uncommon for couples to have two to four sets.

El Lazo (Lasso)

The wedding lasso, or el lazo, symbolizes unity; a joining of two lives. In traditional Mexican weddings, unity ceremony is performed after the couple exchanges vows. Then, the madrinas and padrinos place the wedding lasso over the couple’s shoulders in a figure-eight shape, which represents a new beginning in the Bible.

El Lazo, madrinas and padrinos place the wedding lasso over the couple’s shoulders in a figure-eight shape, which represents a new beginning in the Bible.

The lasso can be an oversized rosary, a silk cord or a flower garland. It’s typically joined in the middle by a crucifix.

The ceremony is followed by a prayer asking to bless the union. At the end of the ceremony, the lasso is removed and kept as a memento of this special day.

Las Arras Matrimoniales (13 Coins)

Las Arras Matrimoniales, the tradition involves the groom giving the bride 13 coins, often presented in a decorative box or pouch. Now, why 13? You might think it’s an odd choice given its reputation in some cultures, but here, it’s all about symbolism. The 12 coins represent Christ and his 12 apostles, with the extra coin symbolizing the extra care the couple will take to ensure their needs are met.

But it’s not just about the coins; it’s about what they symbolize: trust, responsibility, and the couple’s commitment to providing for each other. It’s a beautiful, tangible way to say, “I’ve got you, no matter what life throws our way.”

13 Coins Arras Mexican Wedding
Image Credit: Darien Chui


Couples may hire mariachis to sing religious songs and hymns during the ceremony and at the reception. The reception music is more upbeat and festive to celebrate the couple’s big day and get everyone out on the dance floor.

A mariachi band at a mexican wedding.

La Vibora De La Mar (Sea Snake Dance)

The Sea Snake Dance, or La Vibora de la Mar, is a traditional dance performed by the bride and groom. The couple stands on opposite chairs and joins hands to create an arch. Family and friends pass under the arch while holding hands and dancing.

The couple must not break the snake formation. As the music gets faster, it gets increasingly more difficult for the couple to keep it together. This tradition is so much fun and it really helps to bring everyone together.

The sea snake dance (La Vibora De La Mar) at a mexican wedding

Tossing The Groom

The tossing of the groom, also known as el muertito, is when the males get together, lift the groom over their shoulders and toss him into the air several times. Occasionally, they’ll also pass around the groom’s shoes and leave money or gifts inside.

Dollar Dance

The dollar dance, also known as the money dance, is a tradition of unknown origins, but it’s practiced in cultures around the world.

At a Mexican wedding, guests will “pay” for a dance with either the bride or groom by pinning dollars to their clothing. This gives them some rare one-on-one time with the couple and an opportunity to wish them good fortune.

A woman pinning dollars to the grooms seat during a dollar dance at a mexican wedding.

la tornaboda

This is where the night shifts from a blockbuster wedding bash to an intimate scene straight out of your favorite indie movie. Originating from Mexican traditions where weddings are a massive open house event, “la tornaboda” is your chance to wind down (or turn up) with those closest to you, after the main event has simmered down. Picture this as the secret level in a video game, where the real magic happens with your closest family and friends. So, if your wedding was the concert, “la tornaboda” is the exclusive backstage pass to keep the celebration going, just with the people who really know how to dance to your tune.

Bride and groom kssing ina. car heading to thier la tornaboda after thier mexican wedding.

Presentation of the Bouquet

During the ceremony, the couple takes a moment to walk up to an altar or a statue of the Virgin Mary. There, they offer a bouquet of flowers as a symbol of their devotion and as a humble request for her blessings on their journey together. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, we’re in this together, but a little divine backup never hurt anyone, right?” This gesture isn’t just for show. It’s a deeply personal moment, a silent conversation between the couple and the heavens. According to Cardenas, having a flower bouquet for the Virgin Mary is an absolute must at these weddings. It’s one of those traditions that tether the ceremony to something larger than life, reminding everyone that this union isn’t just about two hearts joining, but about two souls embarking on a sacred journey together.

A couple presents a bouquet to the Virgin Mary at a mexican wedding ceremony.

Other Frequently Asked Questions about Mexican Weddings

Why do Mexican weddings toss the groom?

Called the “el muertito,” Mexican weddings are unique in the fact that they have a special event where all of the male guests throw the groom into the air.

During this time, the groom’s shoes are removed and guests stuff gifts into his pockets.
Shoes are often passed around for guests to fill with money. While the event is a popular one, there’s very little information on the significance of el muertito.

What can I expect at a Mexican wedding reception?

Mexican wedding receptions are a major event, and if you’re lucky enough to attend, you’re in for a magical night. First, you’ll be in for a major feast with all of your favorite Mexican cuisine, including:
• Meat dishes, such as chiles rellenos and spicy stews
• Spicy rice and salsa
• Mole blanco, or a delicious sauce made from nuts and chili peppers that are blended together
• Dessert table, which is the center of the reception’s décor
• Cookies, candies and chocolates
• Elaborate wedding cakes

However, food isn’t the only thing that you have to look forward to during a reception. You’ll also be dancing the night away. Of course, the Mexican wedding traditions outlined above will also be part of the equation.
You can expect mariachis to play during the reception, and the wedding, too. Hymns and religious songs are common during mass, but they also make their way into the wedding reception.

Most weddings will include an open bar with all of your favorite traditional Mexican beer and alcohol, such as tequila and margaritas. Kids will also be given a non-alcoholic drink, called aguas frescas, which is flavored water.
Of course, adults that prefer non-alcoholic drinks can also request flavored water.
Tequila shots are often passed around during the event, so if you do drink, be prepared to have your own supply of shots.

Aside from food and drink, you can also expect a lot of ornate dances, such as:
• La Vibora de La Mar, which is a bride and groom-centric dance that involves guests running through the arch that the bride and groom form with their hands. As the music gets faster, the dancing speed increases and guests have to work diligently not to break the “snake chain.”
• Dollars are pinned to the attire of guests, where males will pay for dancing with the bride and females pay for a dance with the groom.

Depending on the couple and their preference, the festivities may end for the night and continue the next day. However, many couples also opt for the La Tornaboda, which is a unique event where only special guests are welcome to attend.

What does Arras mean?

In Spanish, the word “arras” means earnest money. During the wedding ceremony, the groom will hold 13 coins in his hands and offer them to the bride. The highly religious symbolism represents Jesus and his apostles.
When the bride accepts the arras, this means that she trusts the groom.

However, the coins can also be 12 gold coins that represent the months of the year and a platinum coin, which is meant for the less fortunate.

The bride and groom will choose a couple to provide the las arras. Typically, the godparents will provide the coins as a gift to the couple. Of course, the coins can also be represented in other ways, such as through jewels.

How long do Mexican weddings last?

Due to the many Mexican wedding reception traditions outlined above, the normal Mexican wedding reception can last up to 2 days. However, the actual wedding ceremony itself lasts around 1 hour.

Mexican wedding traditions are filled with meaning, and religious connotations and are beautiful and elegant. While the wedding itself lasts for around one hour, it’s not uncommon for the reception to be an all-day affair – sometimes, a two-day affair.

Thought this was helpful? Check out the wedding traditions you can skip.

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