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Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.

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September 29th, 2010

Our (not so obvious) Mexican Wedding

 
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mexicanwedding-insideWe were lucky enough to attend the wedding of a good friend this past weekend.  We had someone watch Olivia so we were able to be there for all of it: the rehearsal dinner, the Nuptial Mass, the whole reception.  It was quite a treat.

It made us reminisce a lot about our wedding.  The thing that I still chuckle about when I think of our wedding is what things people assumed happened at our wedding because I’m Latina and what things they didn’t really seem to notice.

Things that people assumed:

  • Many people asked me if my wedding dress had been passed down from La Lupe.  Nope, just happened to like a dress that had that old lace, traditional vibe.
  • People asked me if the big flower I wore in my hair was so that I looked more Spanish (I guess it did look flamenco-y).  Nope, I actually am not sure how much Spanish blood I have in me anyways.  I know I’m mostly native Mexican, like Indian Mexican.  I just found a $3 flower hairpin at H&M in New York when I was visiting and fell in love with it.
  • People asked me if I was going to wear a mantilla as a veil.  Nope, that’s not really a Mexican thing.  It’s more Spanish.

Then I think about the things we had that were pretty stereotypical of a Mexican wedding:

  • We had Mexican food at the reception.  Gorditas with beans and rice.
  • The margarita machine was in full swing.  Three different flavors.  Plenty of Tecate to go around.
  • Some popular Spanish songs during the dance.

mexicanwedding-flashAnd then there were the things that were specifically done to include my Mexican heritage.  These things were the important stuff to us but are also the things that nobody ever asked us about:

  • During Mass we had the exchange of arras and the lazo.  The symbolism of both of these were very important to us.
  • We didn’t want every single thing to be in English and Spanish.  I’ve seen weddings completely translated in both English and Spanish and it was just not the way we wanted to go.  So we chose what we wanted in English and in Spanish throughout the day but we did no translating.  Whatever was said in English was English and whatever was said in Spanish was Spanish.  We included everyone by excluding them equally (if that makes sense).
  • We also had the dollar dance which is actually Polish but it is a tradition I’ve seen done in every wedding I’ve been to in El Paso.  The reason this was so important to us was that it was the only request La Lupe had for our wedding.  She didn’t ask for the whole Mass to be in Spanish.  She didn’t ask to be seated with certain people.  She only asked that we do the dollar dance.  Done.

In the end, it was a good blend of Brandon and I.  We didn’t do things just because we wanted to play up the Mexican factor.  We were intentional about everything in our wedding.  It was interesting to me that it wasn’t really my family pushing for an über-Mexican wedding but rather non-Mexican friends and family pushing us in that direction.  They had good intentions and were just trying to be understanding of my heritage.  It’s ironic, though, when people try too hard to not be stereotypical, they sometimes overcompensate and end up being stereotypical.

 
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The Author : Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft
Vanessa, a Notre Dame grad, loves the Catholic Worker Movement, Catholic education, and overbearing Mexican mothers, which she may or may not be. She lives in Austin with her husband and three daughters and is a freelance writer. You can find Vanessa at v.kraft.im or follow Vanessa on Twitter @laluped.
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  • Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft

    Thanks! I forgot that we had written about that in our program. :)

  • Meagan F

    I loved the arras and the lazo! You two did such an excellent job explaining them in your program that nobody had to ask :-) but we definitely did talk about how beautiful your ceremony was.

  • Marion Hayes

    Your wedding sounded beautiful. I’m so glad that you had Mexican food at the wedding to honor your heritage. All of the special touches sounded wonderful! I wish I could have been there to see the ceremony! My husband and I considered ourselves newleyweds after 8 years. Congratulations for the baby on the way!

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