Spain is known for its beautiful scenery, delicious food, and rich cultural heritage. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Europe.
During the 1500s and 1600s, Spain rose as a significant colonial power in Latin America. It founded colonies in what is now Mexico, Central America, and South America as a result of this influence. Spain’s influence extended to wedding traditions in these areas.
Much of Spain’s population follows the Roman Catholic faith, and most weddings follow religious traditions. The country’s Catholic roots have created a lasting impact on Spanish culture, including its wedding traditions.
However, there are a few secular Spanish wedding traditions that are popular in the country as well. Many traditions date back to before Christianity came to Spain. If you plan a religious or secular wedding, you could incorporate many Spanish wedding traditions into your ceremony.
The following 13 Spanish wedding traditions should give you an idea of what it’s like to get married in these parts of the world.
13 Spanish Wedding Traditions and Rituals
If you’re looking for Spanish wedding traditions, you’ve come to the right place.
While there are many traditional Spanish wedding customs in Spain, many of these traditions extend to Latin America and the US.
1. The Wedding Party: Padrinos
When it comes to your wedding party, you might be wondering what the proper etiquette is in choosing who should stand up with you and your partner. With Spanish weddings, you handle this a bit differently than in other cultures.
Couples have godfathers and godmothers who were chosen at birth—traditionally, they are family members or close friends. These people, called Padrinos, typically participate in the ceremony and sit with them at the bridal table during the reception.
Second, many couples choose to have their parents stand up with them at the ceremony. This is a nice way to honor their support throughout their lives together.
Thirdly, there are no bridesmaids or groomsmen. There are also no flower girls or best men. The only exception is if the bride or groom is from a different culture. In that case, they may decide to include some of those traditions in their ceremony.
2. The Rings
The wedding band is a big part of a wedding and holds a lot of importance in Spanish culture. Spanish wedding traditions are rich in history and tradition. The ring is one of the most significant parts of getting married in Spain.
Women wear the wedding ring on their right hand while they wear the engagement ring on their left hand. Wedding bands for men and women are simple gold bands with no stones or other embellishments.
3. The Wedding Dress
Many brides in Spain wear black silk wedding dresses for their ceremonies. The color represents commitment—and it is also a reminder of death and the finality of marriage.
Some brides also opt to wear white to represent purity and virginity. We’re not saying you have to take all this literally—especially if you’re not Catholic! But it’s good to know where these traditions originate.
4. The Wedding Veil or Mantilla
For centuries, Spanish brides have observed the wedding tradition of wearing a mantilla over the peineta. A mantilla is a lace or silk veil that covers the bride’s head and shoulders. The peineta is a comb worn by Spanish brides, which typically sits atop the bride’s veil.
Catholic priests established the tradition of covering the shoulders with a mantilla in the 1500s to keep women modest during Mass. It also symbolized their submission to God, their husbands, and their community.
Although it has fallen out of favor in some areas, many modern brides still wear a mantilla during their church weddings—often because they want to honor this ancient tradition of Spanish culture.
5. Unmarried Pins
You’ve probably heard of the tradition of catching the bouquet, where unmarried women try to catch a large bunch of flowers tossed by the bride at her wedding. But have you heard of the Spanish custom of handing out pins to unmarried women?
The bride gives each unmarried woman a pin to wear upside down before the festivities begin. If they lose the pin during the ceremony or reception, tradition says they’re next to be married!
6. Name Changes
When you marry in Spain, you keep your mother’s maiden name plus your father’s last name. This tradition is a beautiful way to honor both sides of your family; it demonstrates that marriage doesn’t mean you’re giving up who you were before. You’re bringing two families together as one unit.
This tradition is a “double surname” because it combines two names. Babies receive the first surname from their mother and the second surname from their father.
7. Throwing the Rice
Throwing rice and rose petals at a wedding is one of the most widely-practiced Spanish traditions and predates Christianity. The tradition has its roots in pagan fertility rituals, and Christian ceremonies eventually incorporated it.
After the ceremony, guests throw rose petals at the newlywed couple as they leave the church or other venue where they were married.
Some believe throwing rice or rose petals symbolizes prosperity and fertility, while others believe it’s meant to ward off evil spirits. Either way, it’s a fun tradition that allows guests to interact with the bride and groom before they’ve officially left the ceremony site.
8. Tie And Garter Cutting
One of the most beloved Spanish wedding traditions is the cutting of the groom’s tie.
The groom’s friends—or, sometimes just his closest friend—will take turns cutting off pieces of his tie until it is completely gone. This is done to symbolize cutting off ties to his bachelorhood and welcoming him into a new life with his bride.
Another Spanish wedding tradition is for the bride’s garter to be auctioned off during the reception to one of her guests. The money raised from this auction will go towards helping them start their life together as husband and wife.
9. Cutting The Cake
Cutting the cake is a tradition that dates back to the Victorian era when cakes were simpler and not in tiers. The bride and groom use a sword, not a knife, to cut through the cake. The sword symbolizes strength, courage, protection, and power.
The couple holds hands while they cut their cake together. The purpose of this gesture is to show solidarity between them after they are married; it also represents their union together as one family unit.
Often, the bride hands out pieces of cake to each guest in attendance, who would then offer her good wishes for her future happiness in marriage.
10. Family Fun
Kids are welcome at Spanish weddings. They’re encouraged to attend!
In the United States, it’s not uncommon for kids to be excluded from wedding festivities—but in Spain, family is an important part of a wedding, and children are expected to take part.
Couples have entertainers for children during the reception, and children are often given special gifts by the bride and groom.
11. Time Off
It’s no secret that Spanish wedding traditions are a big deal. But did you know that the country also has some pretty awesome honeymoon leave laws?
In Spain, newlyweds are entitled to 15 days of paid leave from work after their wedding. This means that your new spouse can take off from work for a solid two weeks without having to worry about missing any paychecks—and it’s all thanks to the government!
Not only is this a great way to celebrate the beginning of your married life together, but it also gives you plenty of time to explore the beautiful country of Spain and all its rich culture and history.
12. The Wedding Flowers
The bridal bouquet is a popular tradition in Spanish weddings. The godfather will present the bride with her bouquet, which is typically made of orange blossoms and other white flowers.
The orange blossom represents purity, happiness, and sweetness, so it’s no surprise that this is how the godfather chooses to present his goddaughter on her wedding day.
The godfather typically attaches a poem to the bouquet before handing it over to the bride. This poem can be written by him or by another person in attendance at the ceremony.
13. The Wedding Dance
If you’re getting married in Spain, you’ll need to know about seguidillas manchegas. The celebratory dance is also known as the money dance. That’s because guests pay to dance with the bride. The money raised goes to help fund their new life together.
Seguidillas manchegas is a traditional Spanish folk dance celebrated all over Spain. It’s often danced at weddings and other special occasions by everyone from children to grandparents.
The seguidillas manchegas is a traditional Spanish folk dance that has been performed since the 16th century. The dance was first written about in poems dating back to the 15th century. Originally, the seguidillas manchegas was a courtship dance performed by two dancers.
The Spanish seguidillas manchegas remains a popular wedding dance, although it has evolved into a money dance, performed in Spain and around the world.