Padrinos y Madrinas: The Wedding Sponsors

Modern Latino Couples Struggle with Incorporating Sponsors into the Wedding

Hispanic family laughing during wedding
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Scrolling through the online wedding forums, there is a great deal of confusion amongst modern brides about how to incorporate padrinos (godfathers) and madrinas (godmothers) into the wedding festivities. Much like the traditional money dance, the topic of having sponsors pay for certain aspects of the wedding is controversial enough to spark heated debates. 

The custom is actually rooted in a centuries-old tradition that involves selecting godparents to spiritually mentor a younger person though the Holy Sacraments of life, including baptism, confirmation and marriage.

The role also requires the person to help pay for the lavish celebrations that usually follow the blessings of these sacred rites. Despite the expense, being chosen as a godparent is a great honor in the Latino community. 

Wedding Attendants vs. Sponsors

The wedding attendants have completely separate roles from the padrinos and madrinas. Like those chosen for the wedding party, the padrinos and madrinas are special people in the lives of the bride and groom, such as cousins, aunts, uncles and best friends. Their purpose is to not only witness the marriage but also to advise the couple through the wedding planning process.

As their gift to the couple, the padrinos and madrinas assume responsibility for a specific item, such as the arras, lazo or rings. Sometimes members of the wedding party take on one of these roles, but sponsors are ideally people who aren't already participating in the wedding.

Padrinos de honor may walk in the processional, after the parents and before the cross bearer and priest. They may also stand next to the maid of honor and best man during the ceremony, and they are given a seat at the head reception table. All other sponsors sit in the first rows and at prominent tables.

 

Like attendants, padrinos and madrinas should be acknowledged in the wedding program, recognized during the reception toasts and honored with a thank you gift.

Selecting Wedding Sponsors

In traditional Latino communities, couples are commonly bombarded with requests from relatives to assist financially with the wedding plans. Although the idea is that the community helps pay for the most expensive items, some couples choose to assign the least costly parts so as not to overburden their loved ones. Others only select hosts for the ceremonial aspects of the marriage. 

The parents of the bride and groom may assume the responsibility of asking for support, especially if the person is a respected community elder. Couples can also ask their close friends and relatives, either in person or by hosting a small party in their honor. 

Couples who are uncomfortable asking for money can still pay tribute to the relationships in their lives by requesting their assistance as advisors. If opting to omit sponsors from the celebration, when someone asks, offer a polite thank you and respectfully explain that you are not having padrinos and madrinas, but you look forward to celebrating with them at the wedding.

 

Continued: Padrinos y Madrinas: The Wedding Sponsors