Friday, April 9, 2010

Latin American Wedding ceremonies and Traditions

Prior to a Latin American Wedding ceremony a Spanish groom may give his bride thirteen coins that serve to symbolize Christ and his twelve disciples, but also as a way of asking for the brides hand in marriage.

The bride accepts the coins, which she then carries in a small bag through the ceremony, as it is a sign that the groom has made a pledge to support and take care of her. In the Hispanic wedding ceremony however, the thirteen gold coins should be made of gold since these also serve to pay off part of the dowry. The priest blesses these; they are then passed between the couples hands several times before being placed on the bible. A long rope or a rosary is used and wound in a figure 8 about the shoulders of the couple and this is to symbolize their union.

Latin American wedding ceremonies involve brightly colored linens, pottery and flowers. In Puerto Rico a doll is dressed in a bridal gown and placed at the head table. The wedding dress goes with a mantilla veil or a bolero jacket if the dress is slim. The hems are normally adorned with flamenco ruffles. In Argentina the bride is escorted down the aisle by her father. At the altar only the couples parents and godparents stand with them since there are no bridesmaids and groomsmen. In Chile engaged couples wear rings but on their right hands until they are married when they transfer the rings to the left hand.

Throughout Latin America it is the godparent’s responsibility to guide couples through the marriage ceremony. In Mexico they go a step further by supporting the couple both spiritually and financially. Godparents can be chosen either at birth or marriage and most continue supporting the married couple throughout their life.

Traditional Latin American wedding cakes are made with dried fruit and nuts which is then soaked in lots of rum. Foods served during traditional wedding ceremonies include pastries stuffed with meat and vegetables, rice and beans, beef stew and fried plantains. Flan is used as a dessert and the delicious custard is prepared from eggs, vanilla, milk and caramelized sugar. Drinks include delicious punch. It is a secret combination of wine, sugar, brandy, seltzer and fruit. The non-alcoholic drinks from Mexico are available in many flavors, and the popular drink Batido is a fruit shake made from ice, milk and fresh fruit.

At a Latin American wedding reception, a variety of Latin American music is played ranging from salsa, mambo, meringue, flamenco and samba. The married couple is traditionally the first to take a dance. Prior to the dance beginning, it is normal for Mexican guest to surround the couple in a heart-shaped ring. In Cuban weddings any man who dances with the bride attaches money to her gown. Gifts in some Latin American countries are presented to guests who queue up for them. They are made from feathers and tied with ribbons with the names of the bride and groom printed on them as well as the wedding date.

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