Weddings in Mexico

During my short time in Mexico, I have been able to attend two weddings already. These have been a great way to meet interesting people, get familiar with the local culture and wedding customs.

Both times I was a so-called “wedding crasher”, which means that I didn’t know the bridal couple beforehand. No, I did not sneak into the wedding secretly from the back door to eat and enjoy the wedding feast. Two of my friends invited me to be their escort in these weddings so I could taste the flavor of Mexican weddings. I did not have to think twice before accepting these invitations.

All my previous wedding experiences are related to the weddings I attended in Estonia. Therefore, I’ll bring out the major differences I noticed between Estonian and Mexican weddings. These two Mexican weddings were quite similar, but even there were some slight differences, which in my opinion were due to different taste of preferences of the bridal couple and the wedding budget.

Before the first wedding, I did some homework so that I wouldn’t run into weird situations, because I am not familiar with Mexican wedding customs. In Estonia, it is a habit that wedding guests bring flowers to the bridal couple after the ceremony. However, that is not the case in Mexico, only the bride has a small bouquet of flowers.

Normally, gift-making is a painful process, but luckily it has been resolved in a quite comfortable way here. It is very popular for the bridal couple to make a gift registry. In stores picked out by the couple, the guests can access the registry and choose the present they like to give to the couple. The gift will be delivered by the store to the bridal couple after the wedding. It is very convenient for both the guests and the bridal couple and excludes situations where, for example, they receive three identical irons as a gift.

More than 90% of Mexican population is religious, of whom a large majority are Catholics. Therefore, the majority of the weddings take place in churches. It was a huge surprise to me that a wedding which takes place in a church is part of a public mass, where all people may participate. I got an idea about the mass after some people started walking around in the church with a box of offertory, asking for donations. Initially, I thought this was one of the wedding traditions; to contribute to the budget of the wedding. Later on I heard from my friend that it was the mass and all the collected money goes to the purse of the church.

I have the impression that in spite a large proportion are religious, the faith is not very strong in general. My impression is indicated by the fact that only approximately 25% of the wedding guests participated in the wedding ceremony at the church. A majority of the guests go straight to the party. At first I saw around 30 people in the church and based on that I expected a small wedding. But after arriving to the place of the party, I witnessed 100 additional guests, whom I did not see in the church.

At least for me it is unusual that the ceremony of wedding starts quite late in Mexico. The first started at 18:00. The second began at 20:30. Supposedly, a late start is caused by the fact that the weather is cooler later.

The guests are seated behind round tables, which accommodate around 8-10 people. The bridal couple has their own table where they sit together. Based on Estonian tradition, the guests normally sit behind of one or two long tables and the bridal couple sits in the middle of the table, but in Mexico there are different customs in this regard.

Food and drink are not set on the tables but are served by waiters as in a restaurant. The food option is limited as everybody has the same appetizer, main course and dessert. Fortunately, the choice of beverages is much larger – you can order what you want and as much as you want. In the second wedding, my friend’s friends were trying to make fun of me, hoping that I would pass after a few tequila shots under the table. Unfortunately, they did not know that I have spent eight months in Cuba and four years in Finland. I stood firmly on my two feet as the Mexicans started to fall as ripe apples from the tree.

The band and DJ were responsible for music in turns. The band mainly presented Mexican music but the DJ’s focus was more concentrated on the Spanish and international pop music. So, as you can always hear the “amen” in the church, in the Mexican wedding you are able hear music performed by Mariachi (a type of group of musicians in national costumes and hats).

One of the biggest difference between the Estonian and Mexican wedding is that in Mexico there is no “master of ceremonies” tasked to organize social games and entertain people in the wedding.

At least the bride’s flower bouquet and the garter competitions took place. When the garter began to play out, I recalled from my physics classes that light things as the garter do not fly far; therefore, I took a place in the first-line and my height (compared to ordinary Mexicans) turned out to be an advantage. Probably after the highest jump in my life, I was the first who reached to the garter. Presumably you know what must be done with the garter, which was won in hard competition in accordance with the wedding traditions……

In most weddings, there is also an after party, which takes place on the following day (mainly on Sundays). This celebration takes place in the company of the family where the bridal couple is able to share their impressions of the wedding with close relatives. The band plays music or it comes from a tape and those who did not get to dance enough at the wedding, can now correct this mistake. Eating at the wedding is similar to eating at the restaurant, but at the after party, it is organized in family style – the food is served on the table and everyone can eat different types of food depending on their preferences. So far, I have not had a chance to participate in the after party, but I hope that one day I can experience this as well.

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