I grew up with the idea that the only way to get married was in a church. There were some papers to sign, but the real deal happened inside a church. Needless to say, I grew up to find there are other options.
There are a bunch of elements concerning the traditional church wedding I grew up seeing, and here are the ones I can remember.
Padrinos [Literal translation = Godparents]:
Bride and groom have each an older couple who’ll help them though their married life, and will advise them and ensure they are true to their wedding vows. Tradition says the padrinos pay for part of the wedding, but that’s debatable. There’s no maid of honor or best man in the wedding party.
Gold (or silver) coins [arras]:
These are 13 little (not real) coins the groom pours into the bride’s cupped hands during the ceremony, as a symbol of his dedication and the fact that he’ll support her through life. As a new custom, some brides also pour the coins into the groom’s hands symbolizing her contribution to the household’s finances. Depending on the couple’s budget, this can be gold or silver or any other metal.
No need to explain here. The bride and groom exchange rings blessed by the priest. The rings are carried and handed by a member of the bridal party; unlike other traditional ring bearers, here the person carrying the rings is likely an adult.
The bride has two bouquets, because one will be left somewhere in the church at the end of the ceremony (likely with the Virgin Mary’s image). The bouquet’s madrina is a girl who carries the bride’s second bouquet so she’ll be able to leave the church carrying a bouquet.
At some point during the mass while the couple kneels next to each other, a large figure-eight-shaped loop of cord or rosary beads is placed around their shoulders. The lasso is usually blessed with holy water symbolizing their union before god. Right before the end of the ceremony, the lasso is removed. The lasso is carried, placed, and removed by two members of the wedding party (likely two of the couple’s siblings) called the lasso bearers, although my mom recently mentioned a new tradition of the bride and groom putting the lasso around each other.
Lasso ceremony/ Image via VIP SanLuis
Image via Bodaplan
These little kids are part of the bridal party, and they are in charge of spreading the wedding favors or programs and most of the time carrying the bride’s train when she walks down the aisle (the whole way).
All these little rituals are done in the middle of the traditional mass.
The wedding party is made up of the madrinas, padrinos, and the people carrying the different traditional tokens. The bridesmaids don’t carry bouquets, and there’s a chance there is no groomsman equivalent.
Those are the wedding-related elements I can remember right now. I’ve seen unity candle ceremonies at a couple of weddings, but those are not traditionally Catholic.
We’re not doing any of the above listed traditions. We don’t identify ourselves as Catholics, so having a religious ceremony is not in our plan, and as the entire family relates these traditions to the Catholic wedding, we think it might confuse them.
What kind of traditions or ceremonies are you incorporating?