Once considered by many Americans as creepy and morbid, elements of The Day of the Dead, or “Dia de Los Muertos,” are becoming increasingly popular and are appearing in mainstream wedding décor in a number of interesting and meaningful ways.
Mexican culture philosophically accepts death as an integral part of the cycle of life. During Los Dias de Los Muertos, people believe that the souls of the dead return to earth for one day of the year. On November first, All Saints Day, the spirits of children, or Los Angelitos are said to return. On November second, All Souls Day, the spirits of adults return.
Believed to have begun with the Olmec, Toltec, Maya, and Aztec cultures, forms of this celebration have also occurred for centuries in South and Central America, Africa, China, Korea, Japan, India, and many other countries.
Remembering and honoring departed relatives with celebration rather than sadness is a key component of the celebration. Celebrating another cycle of life, marriage, isn’t that far removed in many ways, which is why so many couples choose to bring in Dias de Los Muertos elements that help them remember those who have passed on and could not be part of the wedding.
Traditionally, cultural activities include offering food & beverages, decorations, candles, incense, prayers and other remembrances of the departed, usually on an altar decorated with their pictures.
Perhaps the most recognizable Dia de Los Muertos icon is the “Catrina,” a strikingly dressed female with a skeleton face. A close second would be the Sugar Skull or Calavera, traditionally made from chocolate or sugar and inscribed with the name of the deceased. These are often used at weddings in place settings or next to centerpieces, and can also be gotten as candles for added impact.
Using Marigolds in florals is also a key detail, as their pungent scent is thought to help the spirits of the dead find their way home. Tissue paper flowers can also be used in this regard, although aromas are thought to be what attracts and guides the spirits of the dead. Even if you do use paper flowers, the pleasant odors of foods or copal incense are also said to help guide souls home and provide offerings.
Spanish Bread of the Dead, also called Pan de Los Muertos or simply “Dead Bread” in the United States, is a type of sweet traditionally baked in Mexico during the weeks leading up to the Día de Muertos. This could take many forms in wedding events, small, cupcake-sized versions would make a great dessert addition.
Many Mexican fiesta wedding details can also be incorporated, such as tissue paper flag banners, or “Papel Picado.” Your venue vibe can be transformed instantly with this touch alone!
No matter how you choose to bring in elements of Dia de Los Muertos to your celebration, we have warehouses full of decor, along with in-depth knowledge of Mexican culture that can help you honor departed family and loved ones who you wish could be there!