Mexican Traditions: The Day-After Party

This is more a local tradition. I’m not sure it’s done all over Mexico, but bear with me.

I remember when I heard about the rehearsal dinner tradition; I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Having a party the day before the party? But then I realized it’s like the day-after party tradition here.

It’s custom here in Mexico to have a party the day after a wedding or a quinceañera. It’s call a “Pastelada.” I can’t think of a translation to that word, but it involves cake. Why does it involve cake? Well, because it’s about the cake—or at least, the cake is an excuse for it.

Let me tell you something about weddings around here: even if there’s a cake, chances are you’re not getting any. I can’t remember having cake at any wedding I’ve ever attended. The cake sits there at the reception, looking pretty, watching everyone have fun, doing nothing.

So, the custom is to serve the cake at a party the day after the actual reception. Usually it’s a casual affair, kind of like a barbecue. Sometimes it’s a small affair; an opportunity to share some time with the close family after the big reception. And sometimes it’s an opportunity to have all those people you couldn’t accommodate at the actual reception at the wedding event.

A coworker jokeed that he and his wife avoided having a post-wedding party because it would have lead to awkward “so, you did it last night, right?” looks from everyone. Holly cow, who thinks about that?!

But back to the cake. Not serving the cake the night of the wedding means no actual cake cutting, but rather, just acting it out for the cameras.

It’s done so much around here that a lot of bakeries offer you a fake cake with real frosting for the reception, and they just give you a non-decorated cake for the day after.


Niece B fake cutting her fake cake on her quinceañera. That baby’s all cardboard and colored cream./ Personal photo

At the end of the day it’s another party: a party with food and beer (everyone expects beer here), so it costs money (quite a bit of money), so we’re skipping it.

And what’s the best way to skip it? Serving the cake at the wedding. Our venue has an extra fee per person for cake plate-settings, but all in all it’ll be way cheaper than having a party the day after.

Points up for this option? We won’t be just acting the cake cutting for the pictures, and the cake would be actually served afterwards.

Have you ever been to a wedding with cake…but without cake? Are you having a post-wedding party?


Mrs. Toadstool

Obregon, Mexico
Wedding Date:
December 2012
Gallery of the Day
Gettin' My Picture Made, Part I

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  1. Member
    ilikeballet 277 posts, Helper bee @ 9:37 am

    The suffixes -ada and -ado in Spanish are often the equivalent of -ed in English. So, I would guess that “pastelada” means “caked”, which like you said is essentially the party where everyone gets to eat the cake. Your guests finally get caked! :)

  2. Member
    Elm tree 519 posts, Busy bee @ 10:09 am

    In my family we all eat the cake during the party but that does not stop us from the next day’s party. As you probably know, Mexicans dread running out of food at the party and with no RSVPs we usually have a lot of leftovers. We serve those the next day in a less formal “Recalentado” party. I love my aunt’s recalentados, she always has a ton of leftovers!

  3. mstoadstool Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:29 am

    @ilikeballet: Not being a native english speaker that sounds a bit off.. but I’ll take it ;).
    @Elm tree: We only have recalentados in christmas and new years. In our case, most of the time weddings are catered events so there are no leftovers, so you need to hire someone to make food for the day after party, and that’s just too much for my already stressed budget.

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Christina, Guest @ 10:54 am

    My DH is from India, where they also cut a fake cake (mostly styrofoam with real frosting, with one little section of real cake for the actual cut/first slice for bride and groom). It’s a big white three tier wedding cake…and then small fruitcake slices (kept in the back until needed) are served to the guests. Just a different take on the fake cake idea from another part of the world! (We got married in the US, where I am from, so our cake was a ‘real’ cake that we cut and then served at our reception.)

  5. Member
    ilikeballet 277 posts, Helper bee @ 11:04 am

    It definitely sounds awkward, but it’s still funny to try and translate things that don’t. :)

  6. Member
    This Time Round 10219 posts, Sugar Beekeeper @ 11:31 am

    Great post… I LOVE it when I find out about local traditions and customs.

    I am an Encore Bride, from Canada… my first Wedding (circa 1980) and the then “traditional” cake was a multi-tiered fruitcake, covered in Royal Icing (a hold-over fom our British Roots)

    My Mother made my cake… 3 Tiers. We cut the real cake at the Ceremony. And then it was quickly wisked away to the back room for cutting (pieces for everyone in attendance).

    The top layer (the smallest) was saved for the B&G… some couples saved them for the Christening of their first baby, others for a Milestone Anniversary (Fruitcake which is made with alcohol and then frozen can keep for eons)

    When my Mom made my Wedding Cake for the Ceremony, she also made additional fruitcakes… these were cut into small pieces in the days before the Wedding, wrapped in saran wrap, and then placed into tiny favour boxes and tied with a pretty ribbon (that was a ton of work… and occupied a good deal of my time in the days before the wedding)

    Wedding Cake as favours… represents the custom of taking home cake to put under your pillow to make a wish upon… as Wedding Cake is considered to be blessed with LOVE and filled with magical powers (single women who dream upon their Wedding Cake, may “see” their future husband).

    Guests take home a MINIUM of one favour box, it isn’t uncommon for people to take many boxes to share with friends & family… “spread the love / magic” as you will.

    I do know that when I married, that there were Bakeries who took care of all the Cake Making, Cutting & Boxing. So there were certainly B&G’s who when cutting their “Wedding Cake” were actually cutting a fake that was just Styrofoam covered in Royal Icing.

    This time round…

    Mr TTR and I are Eloping to a Destination Wedding (just the 2 of us saying our vows to one another on the Beach). We will celebrate later by going to a gorgeous restaurant that overlooks the Atlantic… and I hope to make arrangements to have a small Wedding Cake (or cupcakes) for us to share that evening.

    For our Back Home Reception after our Honeymoon… I plan to have a full-on real Wedding Cake like is the tradition now. I am really looking forward to that cake… because I think that Bakeries now do an amazing job decorating them to represent the styles of today’s B&Gs and their interests / Wedding Themes. So it should be fun to have a cake that represents the two of us so well.

  7. mstoadstool Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 11:38 am

    @This Time Round: Awesome I’d never heard of that cake tradition. It’s common in birthday parties for people to take cake home but is just cause they don’t eat the piece they’re served.
    I like the idea of cake with magical powers but I’m not sure about putting it under my pillow. All in all is a very sweet tradition.

  8. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 11:48 am

    What an interesting tradition! Honestly, I would be so disappointed to see that big cake (even if I knew if was fake) an don’t getting to eat any 😉

  9. msfox Member
    msfox 1635 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:38 pm

    So interesting how you have the day after party, and here we’re so used to the day before “party”/ rehearsal dinner! I have, however, heard of a “decoy” cake, if you will.. even at wedding where they do serve the cake. I mean, will guests *really* know if they get the actual cake or a sheet cake cut behind the scenes? Probably not!

  10. coyote Member
    coyote 1932 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:57 pm

    Oh my gosh, so you just sit there and look at the cake but don’t get to eat it until the next day?! That is so sad. 😉 Haha. This is such an interesting tradition T, I had never heard of it before!

  11. Member
    mspiggy14 39 posts, Newbee @ 4:20 pm

    @Elm tree:

    I come from a Mexican family so I know all about the recalentados and left over cake. That’s the party after the party.

    Something that I experienced for the first time that American brides have is, a gift opening the next day. I’ve never heard of them until my friend got married a month ago. I was a bridesmaid for her wedding so she invited us to that. I was like “huh?”

    It was fun though.

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