4 Latin American Wedding Reception Traditions

DJ Persist is one of the top Latino wedding DJs in Chicago. In this article he breaks down 4 of the most common wedding reception traditions at Latino weddings.

1. El Baile Del Dolar (The Money Dance):

This fun Latino wedding tradition originated in Spain. In this tradition, guests pin money (using safety pins) to the couple in exchange for a dance. The money collected is to help the couple with their honeymoon or their new home. A variety of genres can be played during this tradition; such as instrumental waltz, merengue, cumbia, or nortenas.

Tips for this tradition:

  •  If you want to save time and not have holes on your wedding outfit, get custom fanny packs to collect your new fortune. 
  • You can also have 2 trusted individuals with boxes where guests can place their donation. 
  • If you do not want this tradition to last a long time, coordinate with your DJ to have a time limit or number of songs. 
  • Have your DJ announce a last call for the money dance, so they can get an idea how much longer to play.

2. Vibora de la Mar (Sea Snake Dance)

The Sea Snake Dance, or La Vibora de la Mar, is a traditional dance performed by the bride and groom. The couple stands on opposite chairs and joins hands or uses the bride’s veil to create an arch. Traditionally, this is done two times. One for all the female guests and the other for all the male guests. When the music starts (usually a song called vibora de la mar) guests pass under the arch while holding hands and running around the reception room..

The couple must not break the arch. As the music gets faster, it gets increasingly more difficult for the couple to keep it together as guests will try to break the arch. This tradition is so much fun and it really helps to bring everyone together, not to mention the memorable pictures and videos that will be captured!

Tips for this tradition:

  • Do this right after the garter and/or bouquet toss. Since you have all the single men/women on the dance floor, the DJ will just need to announce the married men/women to join in. 
  • Have about 3 big individuals (preferably bridesmaids/groomsmen) to hold on to the bride and groom. Often guests will try to knock down the groom and bride. 
  • Have the DJ announce to parents to keep their kids seated and for others to clear the pathways so others have space to run around.
  • Have DJ announce and explain the significance of this tradition as there may be guests who are not familiar with this tradition

3. El Muertito (Tossing of the groom)

El muertito, also known as tossing of the groom, is when the male guests get together to lift the groom over their shoulders and walk him around the room. This signifies the end of the groom’s single life. Often the groom is taken to the bar for some shots of tequila! Sometimes the groom’s shoes are taken off, so they are passed around and guests leave money or small gifts. This tradition is concluded when the groom is tossed in the air several times.

Tips for this tradition:

  • Schedule this tradition right after the vibora de la mar as there is already a lot of male guests on the dancefloor
  • Have the best man take charge of the groom’s belongings. Often a lot of items in pockets are lost during this tradition.
  • Have DJ announce what is going on so your guests can participate.
  • Photographer and videographer should be ready when this happens so they can capture the event

4. Hora Loca (The Crazy Hour)

La Hora Loca or the crazy hour is a tradition that happens in the later part of the reception. Often very high energy music is played during this portion (think Don Omar’s Danza Kuduro and Pitbull’s Fireball type of music) this is to keep the energy high at the end of the night. 

Tips for this tradition:

  • Book live entertainers such as samba dancers, chinelos (Mexican dancers in costumes) or an LED Robot to interact with your guests.
  • Have party props such as glow batons, long balloons, plastic hats, sunglasses, and inflatables so your guests can have fun on the dance floor
  • Event enhancements such as cold sparklers or a CO2 gun can bring more flair to the hora loca
  • Coordinate with your DJ to ensure a high energy tracklist is saved for this tradition. Some suggested genres are EDM, guaracha (Colombian EDM), reggaeton, Dembow, merengue, etc.

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