In celebration of Mexican Independence Day, we wanted to delve deeper into some traditions of this culturally-rich nation. So, exactly what can you expect when attending a typical Mexican wedding?
Mexico: the country of tacos, tequila and tamales. Also a country that throws arguably the most ornate, most colourful, and most spectacular weddings. It’s not an easy task to find the perfect balance between religious tradition and wild fiesta, but Mexico is pretty close to nailing it. Just received your first Mexican wedding invitation? Get ready for a wild night.
The itinerary is a lengthy one, so let’s break it down.
First things first: The Main Event.
As a predominantly Catholic nation, it will come as no surprise that many Mexican to-be-weds choose a religious ceremony centred around a traditional Catholic Mass. However, while we’re all familiar with the Dah Dah DahDah walk down the aisle, in Mexico, they do it a little differently, as the bride can often have both her parents on either side of her, not just her father. Fun, right?
Now for some quirky traditions that set the Mexican ceremony apart from the rest…one of the most prominent of these in a Mexican wedding is that of El Lazo or, the Lasso Tradition. The couple is united with either rosary beads, a simple cord of some sort or even an ornate flower garland. The moment where el lazo is placed around their shoulders or wrists is the moment where symbolically, 2 become 1 in the eyes of God. El Lazo could even be ‘something borrowed’, a family heirloom passed down through generations, or the couple could keep their own custom lazo as a souvenir and use it to spice up their home decor. Handy!
Now enter the Padrino and Madrina. Hailed as the guardian angels of a Mexican wedding, to be asked is the ultimate honour. This is traditionally a couple who have been married for a long time…they’re that couple. She runs her own business and lives in LuLu lemon yoga pants; he does Ironmans and grills in the yard at weekends. Iconic. Wholesome yet wise. Think Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. That kind of vibe.
A good way to describe them, I think, is more mature (and often financially stable) maid of honour and best man. Put it this way: they’re not the type to plan the bachelorette to Vegas, organise group tattoos for the bachelor party, or say something embarrassing during the speeches.
They’re more like nuptial guardian angels, spiritual guides not only throughout the wedding process, but throughout the entirety of the couple’s married life. They also play the part of the sponsor…so they’re almost like financial fairy godparents (um. yes please) who will traditionally pay for various elements of the Catholic wedding ceremony like el lazo (the lasso), las arras matrimoniales (13 gold wedding coins) or the Bible in the service.
Service done and dusted. Now we move onto The Pregame.
In a Mexican wedding, that means La Callejoneada. I call it The Pregame, because this is the part which gets everyone in the mood; the couple will dance and sing with their guests in a procession through the streets, Mamma Mia style, getting everyone ready for the excitement and party to ensue. With the couple leading the way and a Mariachi band in tow, they will gradually move to the reception venue, which often takes place on a stretch of the stunning white-sand beaches that span the Riviera Maya. Cancun, Los Cabos and Playa del Carmen are all idyllic hotspots for a destination wedding. Just see for yourself…
Below are some of the photos captured by DreamArt’s expert wedding photographers of Lauren and Eric‘s special day. Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue became the catwalk for their Callejoneada. Pretty iconic, don’t you think?
Or, my personal favorite is Melanie and Justin’s procession. With a donkey in tow, and an all-singing-all-dancing affair, it’s giving Notting Hill Carnival X major Voulez-Vous vibes.
The photos above, captured by our expert wedding photographers here at DreamArt, really convey the vibey atmosphere of this parade and how guests LOVE IT!
The Big Night Out
Now we have arrived at the reception venue: whether that be one of Playa’s beautiful beaches, or a luxury 5* hotel like Valentin Imperial, Vidanta, Grand Fiesta Americana, or Grand Velas (all the crème de la crème when it comes to wedding parties, I can tell you now). The Big Night Out can finally commence.
Nowadays, modern brides are all striving to find that perfect balance between honouring Mexican tradition, whilst simultaneously wanting to bring to life her bajillion instagrammable wedding ideas she’s pinned on Pinterest. And so, with these old traditions during the Catholic ceremony come fresh, trendier ideas for the wedding reception. Hymns and religious music in the church are soon switched for an upbeat Mariachi band and piñata bashing. And no…not just for the kids.
One of our favourite creative touches we’ve seen has to have been at Melanie and Justin’s wedding (remember, the donkey and Mamma Mia procession?) with their personalised mini maracas for each guest and the traditional Mexican Cigar roller, who rolled to order ;) We love a quirky extra touch!
Mexican wedding receptions. I think it’s safe to say that if you’re invited, it will be one of the wildest parties of your life. All the usual, traditional Mexican dishes will be on offer: tacos, tamales, pork carnitas, chiles rellenos (stuffed poblano peppers), enchiladas de mole…
I know what you’re thinking. Where’s the alcohol? Despite what you might think, Mexicans actually go teetotal for the recep— AHA got you! As if. To say it’s a boozy one would be the understatement of the century. An open bar is very common, serving everything from traditional Mexican beers and tequila to margaritas. If you haven’t been handed a shot of tequila at some stage, at which point you might hear a common Spanish toast: “¡Arriba (up), abajo (down), al centro (to the center), pa' dentro (down it goes)!”, you’ve done something terribly wrong.
Can you believe that your typical American wedding reception runs for 5 hours max?! This would be a cardinal sin in Mexico. The 11pm (or midnight if you’re feeling especially #loco) finish time in the US, is really pretty lame in comparison to this no-sleep-fiesta that often stretches well into the next morning.
Now, no wedding is complete without a bit of a boogie, and at a Mexican wedding, there is no shortage of that, I can assure you. Enter La Víbora de la Mar (the sea snake dance), a traditional Mexican wedding dance where the bride and groom stand on chairs and form an arch for their guests to pass through in a line, conga style.
There’s also a money dance (or ‘dollar dance’ in the States) where guests ‘pay’ to dance with a newlywed by pinning bills to their outfits. Below, Lauren and Eric are photographed getting stuck in to their dollar dance.
Now you may think that we’re done. Not quite yet! After a pretty intense reception packed to the rafters, La Tornaboda, or as I would call it, The After After Party, commences. It’s a smaller gathering with an exclusive VIP guest list of close-knit family and friends that takes place after the larger wedding reception. This post-party tradition began in Mexican communities some time ago, at a time when weddings were essentially a free-for-all, open invitation to the whole community to come and eat and dance. No chance of gatecrashers…the whole town was invited! La Tornaboda provides a more intimate setting for couples to celebrate with their nearest and dearest after the wilder fiesta loca is wrapped up.
So, if you’re lucky enough to have been invited to a Mexican wedding, then buckle up; you’re in for what will probably be the best fiesta of your life, with endless tequila shots (lethal but necessary) and a mariachi band so vibey you wont be able to get Novio Mia out of your head for months.
If you want your Callejoneada captured forever **like Melanie and Justin, a spectacular beach-front reception like Lauren and Eric, or just a wedding day on film that your guests won’t stop talking about for months, look no further. DreamArt’s got you! To find out what sets us apart as a luxury photography brand, check out our instagram. You’ll get a flavour of what DreamArt’s expert event photography team, working with some of the best wedding planners in Mexico, can do to document your special day like no other.
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