Having planned and participated in Catholic weddings in Mexico and the United States, I have observed several key differences in the Mass itself. With that said, I thought it would be helpful for you to better understand the unique and beautiful rituals that are often found in the Hispanic Mass in case you would like to include these in your own wedding ceremony. As an aside, these customs – or a variation thereof – are something that can be incorporated into any wedding, regardless of your background or culture.
There are three main rituals that are fairly unique to the Hispanic culture. The first, which follows the exchanging of wedding vows and the blessing of the rings, is the giving of the arras. “Arra,” which comes from the Latin “arrae,” means to promise.
At a traditional Hispanic wedding ceremony, the groom gives the bride 13 coins as a promise that he will provide for the family and share all his treasure with her. The bride accepts the coins stating that she will be a careful administrator of their wealth.
Photo Credit: Rudney Novaes; Florals: Chic Girl Flowers
At a traditional Hispanic wedding ceremony, the groom gives the bride 13 coins as a promise that he will provide for the family and share all his treasure with her. The bride accepts the coins stating that she will be a careful administrator of their wealth. You can download our Wedding Arras Ceremony Guide.
The 13 coins are usually silver or gold plated; years ago, they were made of pure silver or gold. Today, since both bride and groom are ordinarily bread winners, this beautiful custom continues to reflect the religious intent of a united couple managing finances through prayer. They both promise to each other to share their goods and to take care of their treasure jointly.
Twelve of the coins represent the 12 months of the year. The 13th, which is representative of Jesus, is added as a reminder to the couple to always share with others who are in need.
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The arras are customarily engraved with various designs – from religious images to family crests or the last names of the bride and groom. Arras usually come in small treasure chests, pouches, or trays. These are used during the wedding ceremony and to store the arras afterwards.
Godparents, confirmation sponsors, a close relative or a best friend can be designated to buy the arras for the couple. If your parents or grandparents followed this tradition, you could use their coins, which is a perfect way to make a family heirloom a central part of your own wedding. Down the road, the coins can be passed to your own children so that the tradition can continue for generations to come.
In the next posting, I’ll discuss the traditions of the lasso and the bouquet of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Remember you can download our free Wedding Arras Ceremony guide.
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