Amazing Puerto Rican Wedding Traditions and Rituals

puerto rican wedding traditions

A wedding is the universal celebration of love and union, and Puerto Rican wedding traditions hold a special place in the rich tapestry of global wedding customs. These traditions blend indigenous, Spanish, and African influences and reflect the Island’s vibrant history and diverse cultural heritage.

From the vibrant festivities to the meaningful rituals, Puerto Rican weddings are a captivating blend of old and new traditions that locals and tourists can explore.

The Influences of Puerto Rican Culture and Heritage

Puerto Rican wedding traditions are deeply intertwined with the Island’s history and multicultural heritage. The indigenous Taíno people, Spanish colonizers, and African slaves contributed to the unique customs of modern Puerto Rican weddings.

This fusion of cultures has resulted in a rich tapestry of practices that reflect the Island’s complex past. Also, family and community are at the heart of Puerto Rican wedding celebrations. These weddings are the union of two individuals and the joining of two families and their extended networks.

The importance of family is evident in various pre-wedding and post-wedding customs that emphasize unity and support.

Puerto Rican Wedding Attire

Puerto Rican wedding attire beautifully combines traditional elements with contemporary styles, reflecting the Island’s rich cultural heritage and modern influences. For men, a popular choice is the guayabera shirt, characterized by pleats, embroidery, and four front pockets.

These shirts are typically worn in white or light colors and paired with lightweight linen or cotton pants in neutral tones. To complete the look, men often opt for leather sandals or loafers, and some may include traditional accessories like a decorative machete or a hand-carved wooden walking stick.

Women’s attire embraces a blend of tradition and flair. Brides may wear a mantilla, a lace, or a silk veil, accompanied by a decorative comb known as a pinata, lending an air of sophistication. Some brides opt for flamenco-inspired dresses featuring ruffles, tiers, and a fitted bodice, typically in white or ivory.

Traditional elements like off-the-shoulder or short puff sleeves contribute to the romantic charm of the ensemble. High heels or heeled sandals complement the dress and add a touch of refinement, while traditional jewelry, often passed down through generations, lends a sense of cultural continuity.

Hair and makeup styles vary, with brides opting for elegant updos or natural flowing hair accompanied by soft and natural makeup. Guests usually dress, aligning with the event’s level of formality. Women may choose dresses or skirts paired with elegant tops, while men often opt for suits or dress shirts with slacks.

Common Symbolisms in Wedding Ceremonies

Puerto Rican wedding ceremonies are replete with symbolism, each element carrying profound meaning among the families.

The “arras,” or thirteen gold coins exchanged between the couple, symbolize the groom’s commitment to providing for his family, while the “capias” are small ribbons with the names of the bride and groom’s single friends, who wear them to ward off bad luck and find love themselves.

Traditional Foods and Culinary Delights

Food is central to Puerto Rican culture, and weddings are no exception. Traditional dishes such as “arroz con gandules” (rice with pigeon peas) and “lechón” (roast pig) are often served, showcasing the Island’s rich flavors.

The wedding dinner (Cena de Bodas) is a multi-course meal served at these events, which typically includes dishes like pernil (roast pork), pasteles (meat pies), and ensalada rusa (potato salad).

The centerpiece of most meals is often the wedding cake, a multi-layered cake traditionally served at weddings in Puerto Rico that is decorated with fresh flowers or fondant decorations in various colors and designs.

Traditional alcoholic wedding drinks include coquito (coconut eggnog) or pitorro (rum moonshine). These traditions help to make each celebration unique while honoring long-standing customs passed down through generations of families living on this beautiful island nation.

Music and Dance

Salsa music takes center stage at Puerto Rican weddings, infusing the atmosphere with its energetic rhythms. Whether through live salsa bands or curated playlists by DJs, the upbeat tunes encourage guests to join the dance floor revelry.

Merengue is another genre known for its lively and infectious beats, a beloved addition to the musical lineup. Its fast tempo invites guests to engage in conga lines and group dances, fostering a sense of communal celebration. Dancing contests even enliven the reception, further engaging the attendees.

Traditional folk music styles of bomba and plena also showcase Puerto Rico’s cultural heritage. Bomba, characterized by its call-and-response singing and drumming, and plena, with tambourines and rhythmic hand clapping, intertwine storytelling with music and dance, offering a glimpse into the Island’s history.

Beyond the structured genres, Puerto Rican weddings often feature an open dance floor where guests can freely express themselves through dance. This eclectic mix of contemporary hits and cultural classics fosters an inclusive and joyful environment where everyone can participate, regardless of age or skill level.

Furthermore, the couple’s first dance as newlyweds can be a moment of sentiment and spectacle. Whether a traditional waltz or a creatively choreographed routine, this dance represents the unity of the newly married couple as they embark on their journey together.

The Importance of Catholic Rituals

Catholic rituals hold significant importance in Puerto Rican weddings due to the deeply rooted religious and cultural history of the Island. The Island of Enchantment is a predominantly Catholic society, and many of its traditions and customs are influenced by Catholicism.

It held a Religious Significance

Catholic rituals are an integral part of the faith for many Puerto Ricans. Weddings are seen as a sacred union blessed by God, and incorporating Catholic rituals into the ceremony is a way to seek divine blessings for the couple’s marriage.

Merges with Cultural Identity

Catholicism has been central in shaping Puerto Rican culture over the centuries. Incorporating its rituals into weddings helps couples connect with their cultural heritage and maintain a sense of identity. These rituals often blend with other elements to create a unique Puerto Rican wedding experience.

Has a Family and Community Involvement

These weddings are often community events, and Catholic rituals provide a framework for involving family and friends in the celebration. Rituals like the exchange of vows, lighting of unity candles, and readings from the Bible allow various members of the couple’s community to participate and offer their support.

Strong Symbolism and Tradition

Many Catholic rituals are rich in symbolism and tradition. Elements like the exchange of rings, the lighting of a unity candle, and the recitation of prayers convey deep meanings related to commitment, unity, and faith. These rituals allow the couple to express their love and devotion while honoring their cultural and religious heritage.

Provides Blessings and Protection

Wedding rituals are believed to bring blessings and protection to the couple as they embark on their marital journey. The marriage sacrament is considered sacred and is thought to provide the couple with spiritual guidance and strength to navigate the challenges of married life.

Has an Intergenerational and Spiritual Connection

Incorporating Catholic rituals into weddings allows couples to connect with their ancestors and past generations. Many families have a history of Catholic weddings, and continuing these traditions fosters a sense of continuity and connection across time.

In addition, many Puerto Rican practicing Catholics have these rituals to bring emotional and spiritual fulfillment. The familiarity of these rituals can create a sense of comfort and nostalgia, enhancing the overall wedding experience and making it more meaningful for the couple and their guests.

Customization and Personalization

While Catholic rituals provide a foundation, couples often have the flexibility to personalize the ceremony to reflect their unique personalities and preferences. This balance between tradition and personalization allows couples to create a culturally relevant and individually meaningful wedding.

Best Wedding Souvenirs

Selecting the ideal wedding souvenirs is another important tradition that serves as a heartfelt token of appreciation for guests who have joined in celebrating a particular day. There are a variety of charming and creative wedding souvenir ideas to consider.

Personalized Items

These are always a cherished choice. Customized glassware, such as wine glasses, champagne flutes, or mugs, adorned with the couple’s names and wedding dates, add a personal touch. Monogrammed hand towels or robes are also a popular option. Also, opt for personalized keychains, magnets, or coasters.

Practical keepsakes are appreciated for their functionality. Customized keychains or bottle openers are handy mementos. Personalized candles with a wedding date create a warm ambiance and lasting memory. Engraved or monogrammed luggage tags are both stylish and practical.


Edibles are a delightful treat for guests. Miniature jars of honey, jam, or olive oil with custom labels are a sweet gesture. Gourmet chocolates or truffles presented in personalized packaging are sure to be savored. Alternatively, consider gifting cookies or brownie mixes in jars with a recipe card.


There’s nothing better than photos to add a personal and memorable touch. Provide guests with photo booth pictures encased in customized frames. Personalized photo albums or frames make for timeless keepsakes. Alternatively, consider photo coasters or magnets featuring pictures of the happy couple.

DIY Items

DIY favors add a personal touch. Handmade candles, soaps, or bath salts showcase your creativity and effort. Customized hand-painted ornaments can adorn your guests’ homes for years to come. Homemade jams or preserves in decorative jars are a heartfelt gift option.

Remember that many of these items can be found at any of the local stores of Caribbean Trading in the United States or Puerto Rico or the online site.


The Puerto Rican wedding traditions are a captivating blend of history, locations, culture, and community. From the elaborate symbolism to the delicious food and lively music, every aspect of these celebrations speaks to the Island’s unique identity.

As modern influences merge with time-honored practices, Puerto Rican weddings are a testament to love and unity’s enduring power. Learning a lot of the Island’s history and tales from weddings is possible. If you wish to learn more, you can also check our articles from Caribbean Trading.

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