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Dominican Wedding Traditions

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The Dominican Republic celebrates weddings with a variety of traditions and customs. The Dominican wedding custom is a vibrant reflection of the rich culture and people of the Dominican Republic. Many customs there are based on the Roman Catholic faith.

The culture of the Dominican Republic has origins consisting predominantly of Spanish traditions, with native Taíno and African influences. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular Dominican republic wedding traditions and explain how they are carried out.

the couple in white wedding clothes stand at an old stone arch. honeymoon trip.

Church weddings

In the Dominican Republic, wedding ceremonies are primarily held in a church. The Roman Catholic Church is a popular venue with a Roman Catholic priest officiating the ceremony; however, sometimes, the couple chooses a civil ceremony officiated by a government official. In the church ceremony, guests are allowed to sit anywhere they wish.

There are no designated places for the bride or groom’s family. The groom and the groom’s mother arrive first; after that, the groom’s father escorts the bride’s mother. Then the rest of the wedding party and guests can enter.

After the wedding ceremony, the guests and the couple go to the reception area. In many wedding cultures, the wedding guests wait for the bride and groom to leave the church, and they congratulate them as they do so.

Sometimes along with throwing rice, flower petals or confetti at the front of the church. This isn’t traditional after a Dominican wedding ceremony. The greetings and congratulations are saved for the reception.

church of san pedro de macoris

No bridesmaids needed

A small wedding party is a norm in Dominican culture. There is no need for bridesmaids or a long procession. They have a few kids for the wedding party, mostly family members. One child, preferably a boy, will carry gold coins, and another one will carry the rings.

They also often have a young person who carries a white bible to the altar.

Photo session before the wedding

Unlike other weddings where the groom and bride take photos after the ceremony, in a Dominican wedding, it happens before the wedding.

The bride and groom can meet before the wedding, which is not considered taboo. They are free to meet with their families, interact and take beautiful photos when their makeup is fresh.

The Arras ceremony.

A symbolic ritual in a Dominican wedding is the ceremony of Arras, which involves wedding unity coins. The 13 gold unity coins show the commitment of the couple to share the material wealth.

They are carried by a young child and later passed to the priest. Once the priest receives the coins, he passes them to the groom, who later hands them over to the bride.

The coins are presented in a gift box representing the bride’s dowry. They stay in the family and become family heirlooms.

Wedding Arras

Marriage witnesses

The groom’s mother and father of the bride act as marriage witnesses for the newly married couple. They are also godparents of the wedding and are commonly known as Padrinos and Madrinas.

As the couple signs the marriage certificate, the godparents also sign the certificate. In the case of a church wedding, the couple can have other witnesses like the entire wedding party, friends and family.

Ceremonia cantada

The Cantada part of the wedding takes place during the reception. It is a traditional ceremony in which the groom serenades the bride with a song, poem or piece of music that expresses his love and commitment to her. The groom is usually accompanied by a mariachi band and the bride’s family and friends.

The Cantada is a very important part of Dominican wedding culture and is often a reception highlight. It usually begins with the groom making a speech expressing his love for the bride. After the speech, he starts to sing a song or poem expressing his feelings for her.

The lyrics often contain romantic and heartfelt words of love. During the Cantada, the bride’s family and friends often join in, singing and clapping. At the end, the groom and bride exchange rings, symbolizing their commitment to each other.

The wedding ring giving and receiving is called ‘Aros de Bodas.’ The wedding rings are traditionally given to the bride and groom by their parents or godparents and are usually made of gold, silver, or platinum.

Merengue – The first dance

The merengue dance is the official dance of the Dominican Republic. The traditional dance is characterized by a lively two-step with quick steps, sharp turns, and accompanying syncopated hand claps.

During Dominican weddings, couples often perform merengue dances in front of their guests. The couple may dance together, or the bride and groom may dance with their parents and other family members.

The merengue is a source of entertainment at Dominican weddings and is also a way for the couple to express their love and commitment to each other.

It is also common to encourage ‘la hora loca’ (the crazy hour) where everyone can dance on the dance floor without abandon.

The food

A Dominican wedding is a celebration of culture and flavor. The food served at a Dominican wedding is typically rice, beans, and various types of meat, such as beef, chicken, pork, and fish. Salads, plantains, and yucca are also typical side dishes.

Desserts such as flan, tres leches cake, fruit cake, and rum cake are typically served. Guests may also be offered a variety of refreshments, including beer, wine, and tropical juices.

There will also be champagne and a wedding cake.

decoration objects on the wedding

No wedding presents on the day of the wedding.

The couple can still receive gifts from their friends and family. However, they do not carry gifts to the wedding.

Before the wedding day, friends and family visit the bride’s home with gifts instead of presenting them on the wedding day.

Easy dress code

There is no defined fashion in Dominican weddings. Ladies mostly dress in ball gowns or flowy dresses. The gentlemen wear two-piece outfits.

Since the country is hot, most people choose dresses with breathable outfits like lace. They also like to wear dresses that allow free movement since the wedding is all about movement and dance.

A family affair

Weddings in the Dominican Republic are a family affair. Before the wedding, the bride and groom are supposed to visit each other’s family. This is an important activity so both parties can form a close relationship before they marry.

It also happens so that the two families can form a bond that will be necessary even after the wedding. By the time the wedding happens, it becomes a huge family affair because the two families are already familiar with each other. 

Wedding table decoration in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Banquet. The chairs and wooden table for guests, served with cutlery, white roses flowers and crockery. Green and gold color pallet.

Final thoughts

Dominican wedding traditions are incredibly vibrant and unique. They are rooted in history and culture and are a great way to celebrate a couple’s love and commitment.

From the traditional foods to the vibrant music and decorations, Dominican weddings are a great way to celebrate the union of two people.

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