The Thirteen Gold Coins at a Traditional Mexican Wedding

The Thirteen Gold Coins at a Traditional Mexican Wedding

Mon, 2011-07-11

With its beautiful beaches and rich culture, Mexico is a very popular wedding destination. For Mexican natives, however, certain traditions exist at weddings that Americans may not know about.

For example, at a traditional Mexican wedding, one of the customs is known as “The Thirteen Gold Coins.” According to an article by Hacienda Tres Rios, this tradition stems from a Roman tradition where a piece of silver or gold is broken in half.  Once the piece is broken, the bride takes one half of the gold or silver and the groom takes the other half. By each of the individuals taking one half, it symbolizes their promise to each other and pledge of marriage. 

Within Mexican families, the process is a little different. The groom obtains thirteen gold coins, called “arras,” and gives them to the bride at the end of the wedding ceremony as a symbol of trust.  By offering the bride these coins, the groom is saying that he trusts his soon-to-be wife with his finances and that he is sharing all responsibility with her.  When the bride accepts the coins at the wedding, it symbolizes that she is promising to “take this trust with care and prudence” and that she is dedicated to looking after him and his possessions. 

If you are a spectator at a traditional Mexican wedding, you will know this part of the wedding is happening when you see the groom hand the bride “an ornate box or gift tray” that serves as a representation of good wishes for prosperity. The thirteen coins inside the box or on the tray are supposed to represent Christ and his twelve apostles. 

Before the bride receives the thirteen gold coins, the priest and the best man are given the coins.  Wedding ceremonies will start with the coins being presented to the priest so that he may bless the coins.  The best man then holds onto the coins for the remainder of the ceremony, until its time for the groom to give them to his bride.