A Guide to Puerto Rican Wedding Customs

  • Publication date: 06/21/2024
  • Updated: 06/21/2024

¡Hola! Bienvenidos to the ultimate guide to Puerto Rican weddings! If you're planning a Puerto Rican celebration or simply want to learn more about the vibrant culture, you've come to the right place. From the colorful attire to the lively music and delicious cuisine, Puerto Rican weddings are a true celebration of love, family, and heritage. Get ready to immerse yourself in the rich traditions that make Puerto Rican weddings truly unforgettable!

Traditional Puerto Rican Wedding Dress

Photo by @‌pearlmemories
Photo by @‌pearlmemories

The traditional Puerto Rican bride's attire is a stunning fusion of Spanish and Caribbean influences. The Puerto Rican bride often wears a classic white wedding gown, adorned with intricate lace and delicate embroidery. The dress may feature long sleeves, a fitted bodice, and a voluminous skirt, reflecting the island's warm climate and Spanish heritage.

As for the groom, he typically dons a sharp suit or guayabera, a lightweight linen or cotton shirt that originated in Cuba and is popular in Puerto Rico. The guayabera is often paired with trousers, a belt, and dress shoes, creating a dapper and comfortable look for the tropical climate.

Puerto Rican Wedding Ceremony Traditions

Photo by @emmylou.kelly
Photo by @emmylou.kelly

The Puerto Rican wedding ceremony is a beautiful tapestry of religious and cultural elements, seamlessly woven together to create a profound and meaningful experience. Steeped in tradition and symbolism, each ritual carries deep significance, reflecting the island's rich heritage and the couple's commitment to one another. 


The selection of padrinos, or sponsors, is a cherished tradition in Puerto Rican weddings. These respected family members or close friends play a significant role in the ceremony and provide guidance and support to the newlyweds. Padrinos are typically chosen for their strong moral character, wisdom, and commitment to the couple's well-being. Their duties may include participating in religious rituals, offering financial or emotional support, and serving as positive role models for the married couple.

Arras Blessing

Before the groom presents the arras, or coins, to his bride, the priest blesses these symbolic treasures. This ritual dates back to ancient times when the arras represented the groom's ability to provide for his new family. Today, the blessing of the arras signifies the couple's shared responsibility in managing their resources wisely and building a life together under God's guidance.

Lazo Ceremony

One of the most iconic traditions in a Puerto Rican wedding ceremony is the lazo or lasso. During this ritual, a white cord or lasso is draped around the couple's shoulders, creating a figure-eight shape that symbolizes their unity and commitment. The lazo has its roots in the Taíno indigenous culture, where it represented the couple's spiritual and physical union. This powerful ritual serves as a visual reminder of the unbreakable bond the couple is about to forge.


The Velación is a solemn and deeply spiritual tradition that dates back to the island's Spanish colonial past. During this ritual, the couple kneels and covers their heads with a white veil or cloth, symbolizing their submission to God and the sanctity of marriage. The Velación is a moment of quiet reflection and prayer, as the couple seeks divine blessings and guidance for their new life together.

Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

Adding a touch of charm and sweetness to the ceremony, young relatives or friends often fill the roles of flower girls and ring bearers. These cherished members of the wedding party symbolize the couple's hope for the future and the joy that children bring to a family. As they walk down the aisle, they create a sense of anticipation and delight, setting the stage for the couple's grand entrance.

Traditional Puerto Rican Wedding Receptions

Photo by @fotosbyhector
Photo by @fotosbyhector

The reception is where the true spirit of Puerto Rican weddings comes alive – a vibrant celebration of love, family, and cultural heritage. From the moment the newlyweds make their grand entrance, the festivities are filled with infectious energy, lively music, and cherished traditions that have been passed down through generations. 

Entrada del Cortejo

The Entrada del Cortejo, or the grand entrance of the newlyweds, sets the tone for the entire reception. As the couple makes their way into the venue, they are often accompanied by traditional Puerto Rican music and lively dancing. This moment is a true celebration of their love, as family and friends cheer them on, showering them with confetti, flower petals, or bubbles. It's a joyous and energetic start to the reception, capturing the essence of Puerto Rican festivities.

First Dance

After the grand entrance, the couple shares their first dance as husband and wife. This romantic tradition is often accompanied by a Puerto Rican ballad or a lively salsa tune, reflecting the island's rich musical heritage. As the newlyweds sway to the rhythm, guests gather around, cheering them on and capturing the moment with cameras and phones. The first dance is a beautiful symbol of the couple's love and the beginning of their new life together.

Hora Loca

The Hora Loca, or "Crazy Hour," is a high-energy portion of the reception that takes the celebrations to new heights. Hired performers, dressed in vibrant costumes and masks, take to the dance floor, encouraging guests to join in the fun. With lively music and energetic dance routines, the Hora Loca creates an atmosphere of pure joy and excitement, turning the reception into a true fiesta.

Calienta la Silla

Calienta la Silla, which translates to "warming the chair," is a playful and lighthearted tradition that adds a touch of humor to Puerto Rican weddings. In this custom, the groom is "kidnapped" by his friends, who demand a ransom from the bride before releasing him back to the reception. The ransom is often a dance, a song, or a small payment, and the tradition is meant to symbolize the bride's willingness to "fight" for her husband and their marriage.

Flores y Mangos

The Flores y Mangos tradition is a heartwarming way to honor the couple's parents and grandparents. During the reception, the newlyweds present their parents and grandparents with bouquets of flowers (flores) and mangos, symbolizing the love, respect, and gratitude they have for their elders. This custom is rooted in the Puerto Rican value of family and serves as a touching tribute to the generations that came before.

Money Dance

The Money Dance is a Puerto Rican tradition that combines well-wishes with a touch of friendly competition. Guests are invited to pin money to the bride's dress or the groom's suit, showering the couple with good luck and prosperity for their married life. As upbeat music plays, guests take turns dancing with the newlyweds, pinning their monetary gifts and offering their congratulations. This lively tradition not only brings luck to the couple but also adds to the festive atmosphere of the reception.

La Tornaboda

In some Puerto Rican weddings, the reception also includes the La Tornaboda tradition. This involves the newlyweds leaving the reception for a short period and then returning, signifying their reentry into the world as a married couple. Upon their return, guests greet them with cheers, music, and confetti, celebrating their new marital status and the beginning of their life together.

Puerto Rican Wedding Food

Photo by Ariel Noboa
Photo by Ariel Noboa

Food is an integral part of Puerto Rican culture, and weddings are no exception. From the tantalizing aromas wafting through the air to the rich flavors that dance on the palate, traditional Puerto Rican wedding fare is a true feast for the senses. Each dish is a celebration of the island's diverse culinary influences, blending Spanish, African, and Taíno indigenous ingredients and techniques. 


No Puerto Rican wedding menu would be complete without the iconic mofongo. This beloved dish features mashed fried plantains, garlic, and crispy pork cracklings (chicharrón), creating a unique and irresistible combination of flavors and textures. Mofongo is often served as an appetizer or side dish, providing a delightful introduction to the rich culinary heritage of Puerto Rico.

Arroz con Gandules

Arroz con gandules, or rice with pigeon peas, is a staple at Puerto Rican celebrations, including weddings. This flavorful dish is a true labor of love, with each grain of rice infused with the savory essence of sofrito (a blend of garlic, onions, and peppers), and the nutty gandules adding texture and depth. It's a comforting and satisfying dish that brings families together around the table.


Pernil, or slow-roasted pork shoulder, is a beloved main course at Puerto Rican weddings. This succulent dish is seasoned with a fragrant blend of garlic, oregano, and citrus, and roasted to perfection, resulting in tender, juicy meat that practically melts in your mouth. Pernil is often served with a variety of side dishes, creating a harmonious and satisfying meal that celebrates the island's love for pork.


To satisfy the sweet tooth, no Puerto Rican wedding would be complete without the refreshing tembleque. This coconut-based pudding is a beloved dessert, with its velvety texture and subtle sweetness providing a perfect balance to the savory dishes. Often garnished with cinnamon or sprinkled with coconut shavings, tembleque is a delightful way to end a meal and cleanse the palate.


No Puerto Rican celebration is complete without coquito, a creamy and indulgent beverage that is often referred to as Puerto Rican eggnog. This rich and decadent concoction is infused with rum, coconut, and warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, creating a flavor profile that is both festive and comforting. Coquito is a beloved tradition, enjoyed throughout the holiday season and at special occasions like weddings.

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Natali Grace Levine Editor-in-Chief

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