A Traditional Puerto Rican Wedding

By: Ivonne Figueroa
EL BORICUA, a monthly cultural publication
January 2001

Except for capias and bride dolls, there are no unusual wedding traditions. But you can always give your wedding a Puerto Rican flavor. When you think of things Puerto Rican you think of; coquí, orchids, tropics, palm trees, seashells, Taínos, guitars, coconuts, rum, pig roast, and amapolas. You can use things in the wedding and party that remind us of our Isla del Encanto.

  1. The wedding party could be held in the bride's parents house and yard area. That is traditional because long ago there were no ballrooms for rent.
  2. Lights were strung on the trees outside to light the yard for the party - I am talking about strings of large bulbs. If it is impossible to have it there find a party room that has a yard that you can use.
  3. Wealthy families would serve a large banquet, jibaritos served a lechón on la varita. That sounds like an unforgettable event - doesn't it?
  4. Serve all Puerto Rican foods and desserts.
  5. Make the wedding cake coconut, rum, or pineapple flavored.
  6. Cake decorations may include seashells, pineapple motifs, etc.
  7. The wedding "brindis" used to be made using coconut cups because there were no fancy glass goblets. The bride and groom may drink a traditional café con leche (espresso) using coconut cups - done more like a ritual and photo opportunity. I've seen websites selling these coconut cups - some of them are really nice. A traditional brindis may also be included.
  8. Capias for all the guests. The capias were attached to ribbons that hung from the bridal bouquet. At the reception the bride and groom cut off the capias from the bouquet and pin them on the guests. This is a great way for the bride and groom to make contact with each guest. The capias had a piece of “abeto” fern (spiny fern used in weddings) attached to the capia (about 5 inches of fern), and the capia sat in the middle of the fern. The fern lasts a long time. The capias include a piece of folded narrow ribbon printed with the bride and groom’s names on one end, and the date of the wedding on the other. This ribbon can be ordered at bridal shops.
  9. The bride's bouquet was made using wild flowers of Puerto Rico – mostly amapolas, but also flamboyán flowers, and margaritas (include local greenery and abeto). Puerto Rico has over 50 native orchid species. Use orchids.
  10. The bouquet may include a fan - in Puerto Rico fans were a traditional part of a woman's attire. Wealthy women had fans in different colors to match their clothing. There is a long and detailed history of fans - too long to go into now.
  11. Bridesmaids may carry a fan and an amapola (maybe a silk amapola) - the flor maga, which is similar to an amapola, is the official flower of Puerto Rico.
  12. During the ceremony - in very low volume - play a tape of coquí sounds - that would be most romantic.
  13. The Doll - At the traditional Puerto Rican reception it is customary for a doll, dressed similar to the bride, to be placed at the head of the main table. The doll can be a Barbie or a larger doll. She wears a wedding dress to match the bride's.
  14. The bride and groom may choose a danza criolla, a Puerto Rican waltz. La Borinqueña is a waltz. There are many, many beautiful Puerto Rican orchestra pieces for ballroom dancing.
  15. If you are interested in the Taíno culture use strings of seashell jewelry for the bridal party and to decorate the table. Centerpieces could reflect our Taíno heritage using petroglyphs somehow. Use lots of candles too.
  16. Centerpieces - make small palm trees using “abeto” ferns for centerpieces and decorate with seashells.
  17. If you can afford it, hire a local Puerto Rican folk dance group to entertain during dinner.
  18. Of course - play Puerto Rican music.
  19. Flowers were used to decorate the church, house, and the yard. Again these were flowers that grew wild including amapolas, margaritas and flamboyán flowers as well as local greenery and palm branches.
  20. Select a wedding invitation with a tropical theme like ferns, palm trees, or sea shells.
  21. Select matching napkins.
  22. If you need napkin rings they can be made using elastic and have a sea shell on top with some ferns. The napkin rings are those rings that hold the silverware that has been rolled on a napkin.
  23. Honeymoon – a Caribbean Cruise, of course.

 

Capias

 

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