Wedding Traditions of Central America

NicoleMaui Photography

Wedding Traditions of Central America

Wedding traditions of Central America can vary between the seven countries, but one thing they’re all heavily based on is family. Weddings that take place throughout Central America are generally large and boisterous, with nothing but good times in store. Therefore, in the countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, the ceremonies and receptions are often the place to be.


As a final rite of passage from a single woman to a married wife, the bride-to-be walks to the church. Friends and other villagers often will throw gifts at her and yell out compliments. Once at her destination, she will find the church filled with family and friends, leaving the people of the village on the outside peering in through windows as to not miss the wedding. Much like North America, a bride in Belize waits outside until the moment comes for a grand entrance. The wedding march down the aisle for the bride can vary. She may opt to walk, strut, dance or waltz, as she goes down the aisle along with her escort; her father or another male family member.

Costa Rica

A Costa Rican wedding generally includes all family members from both sides of the family, regardless of whether or not they live in Costa Rica or not. While preparing for the wedding, it is not uncommon to find the groom wearing an embroidered white shirt that was done by his wife-to-be and the bride to wear a black silk wedding dress, along with a veil made of lace.

A Spanish tradition in a Costa Rican wedding includes the exchange of a bag containing 13 gold coins. These coins could also appear in a tray or box and is given to the bride in the groom’s honor. The bride carries the gold coins to the priest, where he will then bless them. This tradition is a symbol of a dowry and the commitment by the groom to his bride that he will support her. The tradition is also a religious one, as it symbolizes Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles.

At the wedding and reception, Spanish music and large portions of food is the tradition. The larger portion size of food shows the greater respect you have for the guests of your wedding.

El Salvador

Unusual for a wedding, but the ceremony for an El Salvadorian wedding will start without the bride. After all the men are in place and the guests are seated, a group of seven males will go to the bride’s home in seven white cars. They are there to pick up and escort her, along with her family to the wedding, where she will make her entrance to the nuptial song.


Close to half of the weddings in Guatemala are Mayan based and are built on Mayan traditions. Ceremonies are complete with a mass amount of flowers, music and dancing. Wedding favors often consists of Guatemalan lemongrass scented soaps. Females generally will marry young and are expected to have many kids.

A wedding tradition in Guatemala includes the tying together of the bride and her groom with a silver rope. This symbolizes their eternal union together. In addition, custom is for the bridesmaids, along with flower girls, to all wear white wedding gowns that match the bride.


In Honduras, three forms of marriage are accepted; the religious, the civil and the free unions. The type of marriage you choose will usually depend on your wealth. Generally upper class will go with the religious, where the middle-to-low will settle for the civil service. For Hondurans, the ideal marriage includes a formal engagement, a religious wedding ceremony and then a large festive fiesta. Also, both monogamy and polygamy are accepted in Honduras, but only if the male can afford to have many brides.


With the majority of Nicaraguans being of Catholic religion, many weddings are done based on the Catholic faith. Therefore, it is not uncommon to include Mass during a wedding ceremony. A wedding ceremony will include guests dipping their fingertips on their right hand in to the Holy water and doing the sign of the cross as they enter the church and before being seated by the wedding usher. A guest that is not Catholic is not required to participate in this Catholic custom.

During the ceremony, sometimes a bride will use this chance to honor the Virgin Mary by putting roses at the foot of her statue.


Much like Costa Rica, a groom will also present his bride with 13 gold coins at some point during the ceremony that the priest will bless. It too symbolizes his financial support of her.