Mexican Weddings ~ Honoring Madrinas and Padrinos

Mexican WeddingMexican culture is recognized for hosting vibrantly colorful celebrations in the company of dear family and friends.  Weddings are no exception.  Prominently a devout Roman Catholic culture, the wedding ceremony is centered around the Mass.

Mexican weddings tend to be large with many wedding party attendants. The attendants are called Madrinas and Padrinos and they have special roles in the wedding.

A traditional couple getting married are sponsored, financially, by their Godparents, to act as Padrinos, sponsors of the wedding. They are mentors to the bride and groom throughout their engagement, and even after they are married.  The bride and groom honor them with a place in the wedding program. The Padrinos may present the couple with a rosary and a Bible during their wedding ceremony.

The flower girl and ring bearer may be dressed as miniature versions of the bride and groom. The Madrina de Ramo carries flowers for the Virgin Mary. The Madrina de Laso carries a jeweled or beaded rope that is placed around the couple as they say their vows, to symbolize their union.  The Madrina de Copas carries the wine glasses for the toast. Madrinas or Padrinos may carry a prayer book, a rosary, a guest book for signatures and an embroidered pillow to commemorate the day.

There also is a Madrina de Velacion, who the bride has chosen to turn to for guidance throughout her married life. God parents of the bride and bridegroom give the couple a prayer book, rosary, and kneeling pillow for the ceremony.

The last persons in the procession carry the recuerdos, which are remembrances, similar to wedding favors, given to the guests. In addition there can be several sets of wedding sponsors, similar to god parents, who look after the couple promising them financial and spiritual aid.

Brides in Mexico may wear a mantilla veil, or a slim dress with a bolero jacket, or even a Flamenco-style dress with ruffles at the hem. In many Latin American countries, the bride wears a light blue slip beneath her dress.  In lieu of carrying flowers she may carry a fan or a prayer book. The groom may choose a Mexican wedding shirt.

During the marriage vows, to symbolize unity, a large loop of rosary beads or a lasso is placed in a figure eight shape around the shoulders of the couple. Some couples choose to be entwined in orange blossoms as this symbolizes fertility and happiness. In some families, a double rosary lasso is also given by one set of the parents and may be blessed with holy water three times in honor of the trinity.

A special person or couple places the lasso around the shoulders of the bride and groom, groom’s shoulder’s first. The lasso may also be tied around their wrists. The couple wears the lasso throughout the remainder of the service symbolizing their love which should bind the couple together every day as they equally share the responsibility of marriage for the rest of their lives.

At the end of the ceremony, the lasso is removed by either the couple which placed the lasso on the couple, or the priest. Traditionally, the lasso is given to the Bride as a memento.

It is customary for a Mexican groom to give his wife a wedding present of thirteen gold coins, which are then blessed by the priest during the marriage ceremony. This gesture represents the groom’s commitment to support his new wife.  Couples who choose to be more modern will each exchange gold coins.

A truly touching tradition during the ceremony happens when the Bride places a special bouquet at the feet of the Virgin of Guadalupe image to thank and pray for their marriage.

Most weddings will end with mariachis as a part of the recessional.  As the newlyweds leave the church, red beads may be tossed at them, to bring good luck. The reception is always family oriented and festive. Everyone is presumed to be invited.

May Day Dream on Cherry Hill

Nestled into the gentle slope of Cherry Hill, the bride’s mother sang “Over The Rainbow” a capella to about sixty guests as the best man carefully passed to each person in attendance the couple’s wedding rings.  One by one, the guests held the rings tied together by a Caribbean blue silk ribbon and infused them with blessings and well wishes.   Once all the guests had a chance to hold their rings, I blessed them one more time and noted to the couple, “Carolyn and Roger, your rings have been infused with love by those you hold so dearly to your hearts.  From this day forward, when you look at your rings, not only remember the love you share with each other but the love your share with those here today. ”

Todd and I first met Carolyn and Roger when they came to our home to see about officiating their wedding.  I was impressed with how wise this couple seemed and how open and friendly they were.  Later I found out that they were looking for more than an officiant, but someone with whom they could make a real connection with.  They talked about how dear their friends were and how they love to entertain guests in their home.  Friends are truly important to Carolyn and Roger and they wanted their ceremony to reflect that.

They chose to be married on a bright, sunny day in Central Park; one of those days that can only describe as just gorgeous.  The park for them represented so much of their relationship.  Quite regularly they would take walks through the park.  It is where there they connect with each other and to nature; kind of a spiritual encounter.  The previous Easter Sunday, Roger had proposed to Carolyn at Shakespeare Garden.  They intentionally chose not to get married inside a church because as Roger put it, it was the “most boringest thing ever” he said with such matter-of-factness that we all had a good laugh.  Instead they like to find the spirit of things anywhere they go.  They commented that when they are together, they are like childhood playmates.  They wake up every day already laughing, they told me.

Not just the location but their wedding date had personal significance.  Carolyn loves celebrating May Day with all the flowers, ribbons and lights.  To commemorate May 1st, after the ceremony guests waived ribbon wands in colors lemon yellow and Caribbean blue.  Their wedding day was marked by the New Moon of Ashwini Nakshatra, an auspicious day for marriage in the Hindu Vedic tradition.

Among the many touching moments of this couple’s wedding day was the moment after Carolyn arrived at Cherry Hill with her mother via Pedi Cab.  Roger went out to greet the two.  As Carolyn’s mother made her procession to the ceremony, Roger and Carolyn took a moment to simply be with each other and enjoy the moment.  Together, they then walked hand-in-hand down the center of the assembly as Roger’s mother played her violin.  She was so happy to be performing at her son’s wedding.

Once the ceremony began, tears started to roll.  Many of the couple’s friends and family were so unspeakably happy for them.  The bridesmaids wore Robin’s egg blue and gold summer dresses with gold pumps and pale blue pashminas.  One of the bridesmaids was a long time friend of Carolyn’s who she hadn’t seen in ten years. Vibrant neckties in Caribbean paired with bright yellow flower boutonnieres wrapped in matching blue silk ribbon made a striking image wherever the groomsmen gathered.  The bride looked stunning in a retro style dress she had specially made for the occasion.  Peeking out from underneath her wide swing skirt were layers of soft peach-pink tulle.  If you looked closely, you could see scatters of tiny fabric flowers gently cast along her portrait neckline that so flattered Carolyn’s shoulders.  I love great design and this dress was a work of art.

To honor Roger’s Filipino heritage and Carolyn’s Celtic roots, they chose to represent their backgrounds with a fasting ritual that melded the Filipino cord ceremony with the Celtic hand fasting ceremony.  Both traditions draw upon the symbolism of binding two unique individuals to each other.  In the Filipino tradition, the cords are draped over the couple’s shoulders.  In the Philippines, it is a great honor to be chosen to place the cords over the couple.  In the Celtic tradition, hands are fasted together by a cloth that holds significant meaning; many times it’s the groom’s tartan.  While the cord lay over Roger and Carolyn’s shoulders, the couple recited traditional Celtic vows.  In both traditions and as was the case that day, the cord was wrapped in a figure eight symbolizing eternity and loosely draped to symbolize that neither is restricted by the other and that the binding is only enforced by both their wills.

After signing their marriage license, something they choose to make part of their ceremony, their ceremony ending with a nuptial kiss.  There was no formal recessional instead guests mingled, pictures were taken and everyone eventually jumped into a yellow cab and headed to the reception including Todd and myself.

It was a beautiful ceremony on a beautiful day filled with creativity, love, family and good friends.