Learn the Duties of the Padrinos and Madrinas, the Wedding Sponsors

Incorporating Sponsors Into a Modern Latino Wedding

Hispanic family laughing during wedding
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Modern Latino couples often have questions on 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 through 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.

Ceremonial Sponsors

The primary sponsors accept responsibility for an aspect of the marriage ceremony. These roles are typically filled by married couples who the groom and bride respect. Padres (priests) often require that the participants are members of the Roman Catholic Church.




Serves as a witness to the wedding and signs the marriage certificate. This is most often a couple who has a strong, lasting marriage or the primary godparents chosen during baptism. As the official hosts of the wedding, this couple assumes the largest financial responsibility. They are also responsible for spiritually guiding the bride and groom through conflicts.


Vigil sponsor, making church arrangements and paying for the priest and choir


Hosts the lazo unity ritual by purchasing the silk ribbon or double wedding rosary and placing it on the shoulders of the couple during the ceremony to bless and bind the marriage


Buys the prayer pillow that the couple kneels on during the nuptial mass

Libro y Rosario

Presents the couple with their marriage prayer book and rosary


Oversees the unity candle ceremony by purchasing three candles and lighting the two outside candles as a symbol of their sponsorship of the marriage


Sponsors the arras unity ceremony by presenting the couple with 13 gold or silver coins to bestow blessings of prosperity upon the marriage


Pays for the wedding rings


The los primeros madrina (primary godmother) hosts the bridal shower.

Optional Padrinos and Madrinas

Couples can also ask sponsors to host traditional elements of the wedding reception and ceremony. Although these secondary positions are optional, they can cover any item that is needed for the celebration, so you can ask as many people as you want.




Buys the bride's wedding jewelry


Purchases the flowers for the church and reception hall, the bouquets and boutonnieres, and the offering for the Virgin Mary.


Arranges the photography to preserve the special day


Hires the musicians or DJ for the ceremony and reception


Pays for the wedding cake


Coordinates the planning and purchase of the wedding invitations

Libro de Invitados

Buys the guest book and hosts the sign-in at the reception

Programas y tarjetas de asiento

Works with the bride and groom to plan the seating chart and create the place cards as well as write and print the programs


Organizes the beverages for the reception

Copas y brindis

Purchase the toasting glasses for the head table and immediate family

Etiquette for Sponsors

When invited to be a padrinos or madrinas, it is crucial that you coordinate with the couple to ensure you buy the items they want in the appropriate colors. You can also request an estimate and give the couple the money.

Although it rare for someone to not follow through with their commitment, emergencies inevitably happen, so it is wise for the bride and groom to save money to cover these expenses.