Guatemalan weddings are a cultural mix of Mayan, Hispanic, and Latino wedding traditions. The local people highly respect the elders in their community and family, they are also very religious, so many wedding rituals, customs, and superstitions were formed under the influence of these factors. A lot of couples still want a traditional wedding ceremony or at least incorporate some of the old traditions. Interestingly, at Guatemalan weddings, both children and elders get probably the most important duties – which ones, read below.
In Guatemala, the members of a family are usually rather close and the elders are highly respected by the youngsters, so there are certain engagement rituals that involve both the bride’s and the groom’s families. When a man wants to propose to his beloved woman, he has to ask her parents for her hand in marriage as well. This ceremony is called “ìla pedidaî”. The groom’s family members come together, take some food baskets or sweets or other delicious gifts, and go to the bride’s house with the groom to do the official proposal. There is always a possibility that the bride’s parents won’t like the groom and won’t give their blessing to this union, so the groom and his relatives try to do their best to find common ground and to show themselves in a good light.
If a couple gets their patents’ permission to marry, another ritual is performed – the groom receives advice for a good marriage from his future in-laws. He gets on his knees and listens to what they have to say. Sometimes, he has to receive advice from up to 10 elders from his fiancee’s family.
Also, during the engagement ceremony, the bride receives an engagement ring from the groom.
In Guatemala, brides often wear the traditional outfit for their wedding – hand-woven folk skirt and folk blouse called “huipil”. Also, they complement it with a cathedral (or just long) wedding veil and white shoes. The veil must be long because it is believed that the longer a veil, the happier a marriage. It is typical for the groom to pay for his bride’s wedding outfit.
The groom’s attire is much simpler – most often, it is an ordinary dress suit, a tux, or something like that.
Guatemalan weddings are usually large, with a few hundreds of wedding guests. The ceremony is held in a church, as people in Guatemala are very religious.
Kids get an important role during the bridal ceremony. They carry a pillow with wedding rings, 13 coins (a ritual wedding gift to the bride from her groom meant to attract prosperity and well-being to their new family), the bride’s veil, etc.
The ceremony is performed by a priest and according to church rules. If to talk about the civil marriage ceremony, the papers may be signed on the day of the church wedding or earlier.
After the official ceremony, the Best Man and Maid of Honor put a special cord over the newlyweds’ shoulders that symbolizes their union.
After the marriage ceremony, everyone is invited to the party. It is usually held at the groom’s house and his mother is hosting the reception. She welcomes the bride, her new daughter, to the house.
At the entrance to the house, a special bell is traditionally hung. It is filled with rice, various grains, and flour, which symbolize financial well-being. When the newlyweds come inside the house, the groom’s mother breaks this bell and wishes prosperity to the couple.
There is one final wedding ritual called “ìcompadrascoî” that makes the relationship between the two families official. The newlyweds and their parents kneel before an elder of the community, who bathes them with smoke, and they all hug each other. After this, they’re officially in-laws.
At last, the wedding guests are invited to the table. They eat, drink, dance, and celebrate.