In the United States, we associate several traditions with weddings: the playing of the Wedding March (aka "Here Comes the Bride"), the clanging of church bells, an over-the-top layered cake, and the exchanging of wedding bands. A boda is a boda -- no matter where you go -- but every culture has their own unique set of rituals and traditions that make getting married a beautiful, special, and memorable experience.
Check out these 8 unique Latin American wedding traditions (and be sure to share your own in the comments!)
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#1: Las Arras
In Mexico, Puerto Rico and various parts of Latin America, las arras are an important and symbolic tradition. During the ceremony, the bride and the groom each take one half of the 13 gold wedding coins. In Catholic weddings, the number 13 is often attributed to Jesus and the 12 apostles.
Las arras have multiple symbolic meanings: they represent the couple's unity, as well as the groom's promise to provide for his wife and his family.
#2: Skip The Engagement Ring
In Argentina, Chile, and various other Latin American countries, it is customary to skip the engagement ring altogether! Instead, both the man and the woman exchange wedding rings or bands, which they wear on their right hand until their wedding day. Once they've become husband and wife, they symbolically switch the bands to their left hand.
#3: A Festive Serenade
A wedding just isn't a wedding in Mexico without the proper music: mariachis! Most weddings (and parties!) feature traditional mariachi music played by a live band during the reception of the wedding.
#4: A Special Wedding Favor
In Puerto Rico, it's traditional to distribute a unique wedding favor to guests — the capias. These elaborate ribbons include the names of the newlyweds and the wedding date, and are usually saved by guests for many years. Families distribute these adorable and personal party favors at other major life events, as well — such as quinceañeras, baptisms, and First Communions.
#5 Breakfast Is Served!
In Argentina, most weddings don't begin until 9pm. Following a lengthy ceremony, the party begins — and it usually lasts all night long. In fact, many couples opt to serve breakfast to their guests after a long, hard night of drinking and dancing. While the type of breakfast varies, most couples make sure to have plenty of churros on hand.
#6: A Symbol of Unity
In Mexico, the lazo cord is used in some Catholic wedding ceremonies. Often, a couple may use a large rosary as their lazo. After the couple make their vows, a member of the wedding party wraps the cord or rosary around the husband and wife to form a figure-of-eight shape. The lazo beautifully symbolizes a lifetime of unity between spouses.
#7: Let Them Eat Cake!
Forget the bouquet! In Argentina, all the brides single friends hover around the cake (obviously) and pull out a ribbon from the pastry. One of the ribbons is attached to a ring — and whomever pulls the lucky strand is the next to get married!
In Guatemala, it is customary to put a white bell at the entrance of the church. The bell is filled with rice, flour, and other grains, which symbolize abundance and prosperity. When the couple enters the church, the mother breaks the bell as a sign of good wishes for the couple.