A Puerto Rican Wedding: Customs and Traditions

As I fulfilled my Maid of Honor duties this weekend (my little sister is getting married!), I thought it would be a great idea to share with you all some customs and traditions from my patria, Puerto Rico. Today’s topic: Puerto Rican wedding customs and traditions!

So, how are Puerto Rican wedding customs and traditions different from any other? First I shall say that, of course, not every Puerto Rican wedding is the same. Needless to say, not all follow these “customs and traditions” I’m going to write about today. However, it is very likely that all of them have at least one tradition or custom listed on this entry. So, what are some of them!?

Bride’s fam pays for wedding; groom’s fam pays for honeymoon

This is one of the Puerto Rican wedding customs and traditions that may have changed throughout the years. However, it is still somewhat expected for the bride’s family to pay for the whole wedding, while the groom’s family pays for the entire honeymoon. Then, gifts and monies collected by the newlyweds from guests are used to start their new life together. This way, newly weds don’t have to worry about debt from the wedding ceremony and honeymoon.

It is important to note, though, that many newlyweds make more money than their parents now and decide to incur the costs themselves or st least pinch in. Again, this varies from family to family. you would be surprised, though, at how ma parents don’t allow their kids to help, as if it’s a “family pride” thing of sorts. Interesting indeed!

Something borrowed, something new, something blue

Yes, it is one of the most prevalent Puerto Rican wedding customs and traditions, too! as it goes in many pars of the world, the bride wears a borrowed item, a new item, and a blue-colored item for the wedding ceremony and reception. It assumes good luck and a blessing to the union.

The bride’s bouquet

According to Puerto Rican wedding customs, the bride’s bouquet is made of amapolas, flamboyán flowers, and/or margaritas, as they are abundant in the island. Also, Puerto Rico has over 50 native orchid species, so orchids are quite popular as well. This means money saved on an expensive florist (bingo!). This, of course, is one of the many benefits of living in a tropical island, with year-long summers! 😉

Puerto Rican wedding customs, amapolas

Amapolas by Wilfredo R Rodriguez H, WikiCommons

Wedding favors

The use of “capias” as wedding favors is, to this day, one of the most common Puerto Rican wedding customs. Another interesting fact? They are not only used for weddings, but also for quinceañeros, baptisms, First Communions, etc.

Attached to the capias are ribbons, which include the name of the newlyweds and the wedding date. These are usually saved by guests for many years in their homes. For example, my mom’s living room (and bedroom, actually!) in Puerto Rico is full of capias from different weddings and birthdays attended throughout the years. They are placed on shelves alongside family photos.

Puerto Rican wedding customs, capias

Puerto Rican wedding capias

The reception

Puerto Rican wedding customs during the reception include a live band or DJ playing Latin music, Puerto Rican food such as pernil and arroz con gandules being served, and the personal giving of the capias or wedding favors to the guests personally by the newlyweds.

The first dance

Typically, a Puerto Rican waltz ó “danza criolla” is chosen. Youtube “La Borinqueña” for an example of how they sound like. Very beautiful and authentic 🙂 Such danza is used for the father & bride dance (if she is Boricua) and/or the newlyweds’ first dance.

The Doll

The Doll is one of those Puerto Rican wedding customs that is a long-standing tradition, yet slowly dying. It involves placing a bride-look alike doll either on the main reception table or as cake topper. The exact reason for this is debated, but assumes good luck, as charms are usually placed around the doll and then given to guests as gifts, thanking them for their presence.

Another related Puerto Rican wedding tradition is to dress the Doll with a long skirt, place it on the guest gifts’ table. Then, the capias are attached to the doll’s skirt for the newlyweds to give to the guests later in the evening.

Food

It is very uncommon not to find all types of Puerto Rican food on a Puerto Rican wedding. In fact, even if a gringo is marrying a Puerto Rican girl (or vice-versa), there will be at least both American and Puerto Rican dishes. A Puerto Rican getting married and not offering at least one traditional Boricua dish during the reception is basically a travesty.

Hope you enjoyed this short introduction to Puerto Rican wedding customs and traditions! It will be interesting to see how many of these hold true on my sister’s wedding in September and which other ones I was unaware of take place. This will be my very first wedding (that I can actually remember), so it will be interesting and very special 🙂

Do you know of any other Puerto Rican wedding customs? Share them!

What are some wedding customs and traditions in your home country?

See more: My sister’s green pistachio wedding photos

28 thoughts on “A Puerto Rican Wedding: Customs and Traditions

  1. Thanks for this! I’m doing a project where im comparing and contrasting African Amrican weddings and Puerto Rican weddings. Great Site!!!

    • Thanks for visiting Jose! I’m happy to hear you found my Puerto Rican wedding traditions post useful 😀

  2. Hi! Thanks for your post on PR wedding customs. My ethnic traditions are abundant and overflowing (Cambodian and Chinese)- it’s hard to narrow down the customs we’re going to do. My fiance (PR) and his family haven’t been able to help with any traditions. And I feel so absolutely bad that we haven’t been able to incorporate much. At least with your list, we’ll be able to do SOMETHING. 🙂

    • very happy to hear that, Jen! Glad I helped.

      So! A Cambodian-Puerto Rican wedding huh? That will be quite the party 😉 congrats on your nuptials, much love and longevity

    • Let me guess: you have attended some Puerto Rican weddings that did not do any of the things listed on this post. That doesn’t mean these Puerto Rican wedding traditions are not around anymore Maya 😉

  3. Thank you so much for your input! We are having a non-denominational wedding ceremony and it will be nice to incorporate some of the Puerto Rican-African American wedding traditions :o) Happy New Year to you!

    • Happy New Year Ada! Let us know how that Puerto Rican-African American wedding turns out! 😉

  4. Thanks for info. I’m marring an American but have incorporated the capias in our wedding. My mom asked where my doll was will have to just wait and see if will be able to find one. I have been born and raised in America, but both my parents are Puerto Rican and yes some traditions are not seen much anymore but they are still around and good to see when are used 😀

    • that’s great to hear, Carmen! Congratulations by the way. Please come back and tell us all about your mixed wedding 🙂

  5. Hello LatinAbroad, another Pueto Rican tradition is the wedding coins. After the vows are said, the groom gives his bride the plate of coins as a gift. It is said to bring her luck and wealth. It is good to see someone holding true to these traditions. I am AfroRican so I am trying to mix the traditions of both sides into one for my upcoming wedding. However, because these traditions are dying, it is so hard to find the doll for my head table. Do you or anyone here know where I can purchase one online? I would love to have one so I can pass it down to my daughter someday.

    • thanks for the Puerto Rican wedding tradition you added to our list! 🙂

      As far as the doll goes, I would try searching via eBay or through Google. If you can write Spanish, I would also search the Internet in Spanish, as you might get better results in local stores that sell the dolls.

      Good luck and congratulations!

  6. When my parents renewed their vows with a traditional Puerto Rican Catholic ceremony 3 years ago, they also did the coins part of the ceremony. From my understanding, it has more of a biblical meaning in both that a Godly husband provides for his family and that a Godly wife accepts the provision with the promise of being a good steward of the family’s wealth. My parents are OLD SCHOOL Puerto Ricans in their early 60’s 🙂

    My fiance is African American and from the south (Mississippi). So our wedding & reception next month is a blending of our cultures with a “Vintage Tea Party” kind of theme. My wedding dress is strapless & my mom has convinced me to wear a cute bolero jacket to “cover up” in the presence of the minister & God. I will have capias, but they will most likely be in a basket, not a doll (I’ve always found the doll a bit creepy LMBO) and since the reception is in the early afternoon, we are doing finger foods & appetizer style food. My mom & I came up with some twists on traditional Puerto Rican foods to serve in small “bites” (ex., mini-mofongo w/ pollo guisao). I didn’t think about doing the coin ceremony, but since we haven’t set the program for the wedding ceremony yet, I think I will put that in there 🙂 We will also be “jumping the broom”. Our cake will consist of tiers of cupcakes – 1/2 of them red velvet w/ cream cheese icing & 1/2 of them tres leches w/ the whipped cream on top – and a small white cake at the top to save for our first anniversary. Once all the pictures and tradition stuff is done, I will be changing into my Nike Puerto Rico Air Force 1’s for the rest of the reception. It fits my NuJer-Rican personality perfectly (I was born in NYC & raised in NJ).

    I definitely agree that we need to keep our traditions alive, even if it means putting a modern twist on them!

    • those are some great plans, Sandi! I would love for you to come back and show us the photos after your Puerto Rican wedding 🙂

  7. I am getting married to a wonderful Puerto Rican man next year and am very unfamiliar with their wedding traditions when I came across your list. Everyone is saying the wedding is all about the bride, but I would still like to incorporate some puerto rican aspects into my wedding some how for him and his family (who still live in PR). Which would you suggest as the best or most common tradition for me to incorporate (other than food, which i do enjoy puerto rican food, but it’s being catered and all ready set). Thanks!

    • just reread this post and take some ideas! You can always Google “Puerto Rican wedding customs and traditions” and see what articles come up. I did my best to include the best traditions here though!

  8. Maria, very entertaining article. One custom is for the groom to pull the decorative band on her thigh with his teeth. I have seen the Mexican peso bride dance incorporated into the Puertorrican weddings, as well.
    Thank you
    PitinPonce

  9. Maria, very entertaining article. One custom is for the groom to pull the decorative band on her thigh with his teeth. I have seen the Mexican peso bride dance incorporated into the Puertorrican weddings, as well.
    Thank you
    PitinPonce

  10. It is also a tradition to wrap some candy coated almonds in tulle (a mesh fabric) and tie with a ribbon with the name of the bride and groom and the wedding date on it. This represents the wish for children in the marriage. It can be placed in or on the souvenirs given to the guests, or left at each place setting.

  11. tradition, puerto rican wedding the dance of the couple there is one line for the bride and one for the groom the music start and the guest pin money on the bride and dance for a few minute then next one does the same.

  12. This helped alot. I am polish American and my fiance is puerto rican and I’ve been trying to figure out how to incorporate both back rounds together because I love the puerto rican culture!

    • that’s really really cool to know G! We do have strong African roots in the Caribbean, so that explains it 🙂

Comments are closed.