5 Dominican Republic Wedding Traditions You will Love

Following one or several Dominican Republic wedding traditions can make your special day even more memorable. We all dream with the moment when our significant other says “I do” and we go to great lengths to make sure it turns out spectacular. By incorporating traditions from the Dominican Republic to your wedding, you will create an experience that your guests will remember for years to come. From specific rites to food to music, all the elements can be customized to provide an atmosphere of an authentic Dominican wedding.

If you have been wondering what cultural aspects, you can integrate into your marriage ceremony, I will simplify your life by giving you the top wedding rituals used in this alluring country.

Top 5 Dominican Republic Wedding Traditions

Before going into the rituals, I have to remind you to keep an open mind as some of them might seem a bit odd depending on your background. However, if you give them a shot, you may find these traditions to be refreshing.

Bride and groom

1. A small wedding party

It is customary to have a few attendants instead of several bridesmaids and groomsmen at the wedding. They are the flower girl, the ring bearer, the bible carrier, the godparents, and the arras caretaker. While each one of them plays an important role, together they set the mood for the ceremony.

  • Flower girl

  • One attendant to walk down the aisle is the flower girl. Her task is to throw petals of flowers (typically roses) all over the path is about to be walked on by the bride. Most of the times, the chosen girl is a young relative dressed like a cute tiny version of the bride.

  • Ring bearer

  • In Dominican weddings, it is customary to see a small boy to be the ring bearer. He is the one responsible for carrying and keeping the rings until it is time for the ring exchange. In the same fashion as the flower girl, the ring bearer is often dressed as a miniature version of the groom.

  • Bible carrier

  • Another young attendant present in the wedding is the bible carrier. This a custom often done in religious weddings. The carrier's duty is to take a white bible all the way to the altar. A small boy is often chosen for the task and unlike the ring bearer he isn't dressed like the groom.

  • Godparents

  • Having godparents at the ceremony to perform as witnesses and sign the marriage certificate with the newlyweds is another crucial custom. They are referred to as padrinos (males) and madrinas (females). Normally, one of them is the father of the bride while the other is the mother of the groom. If you want to get the real feeling of a local wedding, this is a must.

  • Arras

  • One of the most curious Dominican traditions is the arras. The arras is much more common in Catholic church weddings. A silver tray containing 13 coins (also known as unity coins) is passed from one of the young attendants to the minister. Once the minister is in possession of the tray, he will bless it and give it to the groom. Finally, the groom will pass it on to the bride. So what does this ritual mean? It symbolizes the commitment from both the groom and bride to share their belongings and provide for each other.

2. Bouquet offering

White ranunculus

One tradition exclusive to Catholic church weddings in the Dominican Republic is the bouquet offering to the Virgin of La Altagracia. This is done by mentioning it to the priest beforehand, and during the ceremony he will pick a moment where the bride and groom will honor the Virgin by showing a bouquet to her image.

3. Ceremonia cantada

A custom that must be included in every DR wedding is the ceremonia cantada. This will make any ceremony stand out as most of the times the guests are the ones singing the music during the event instead of a band. The practice is perfect for adding a personal touch and making the wedding much more intimate.

4. Merengue dance

Wedding couple dancing

No wedding is complete without the first dance. There is no right or wrong way to do this as there are many variations and all of them are acceptable. The first dance is often a slow song between the newlyweds. The second one involves a fast merengue. It will often be between the couple for a short period, then the bride will dance with her father and the groom with his mother, soon after, the couple will rejoin followed by family members and the remaining guests.

5. Dominican cuisine

Last but not least is the food. Like in all major events, the menu is an essential part, and there is no need to skimp on it. A lot of people make the mistake of being meticulous with the decoration but when it comes to the food, they drop the ball.

By including a few traditional well-prepared Dominican dishes you will succeed in creating the ideal atmosphere. So what should be present in the menu? A few alternatives are pasteles en hoja, pernil, and moro.

Pastel filled with chicken

Pasteles en hoja consist of a dough made from green plantains with chicken, pork, or beef inside. Occasionally, they might have rice or potatoes in it as well. Pernil is just a well-seasoned pork that has been cooked at a low temperature for a long time. Doing this softens the meat enough to be cut with ease. Moro is nothing complicated. It is just rice with beans. Rice is paramount in the Caribbean cuisine and the Dominican Republic is no exception. By mixing rice with black or red beans you will have created an authentic meal worthy of any Dominican wedding.

In the following video, you will see the celebration of a wedding in the Dominican Republic:

Dos and Don'ts of a traditional DR wedding

One thing worth noting is that Dominican culture may be similar to others especially when it comes to weddings. However, there will be a few key points that may drastically differ with what you have been taught.


  • Like in most countries the men are the ones that propose.

  • If there's a big wedding and/or reception, the future bride's family is usually the one responsible for the arrangements.

  • There is no problem if the groom wants to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony as it won't jinx the marriage or anything. Actually, it is a good thing to do so because is an ideal opportunity to take pictures when all the parties are at their best. Also, by taking the pictures early, everybody will be more relaxed and focused on having fun at the reception.

  • Leave the reception whenever you want. There is no need to stay and wait for the couple to take off if you don't want to as it is customary for the groom and bride to party until the end. But remember to do it after the main meal (not before or you will raise a few eyebrows).

  • To enhance the atmosphere, have decorations written in Spanish all around the reception area. Including the tables' numbers and the menu.

  • Be aware there isn't a section for the groom's or the bride's guests. You can sit anywhere you want (as long as you don't take someone else's seat).


  • Taking the wedding gift to the ceremony or reception is a big no-no. Never do that. All gifts are delivered to the bride's home prior to the event. If you are the one getting married, it is a good idea to state clearly how do you want the gifts to be sent and when.

  • Greeting the couple outside the church after the nuptial rite is a major don't. Just go directly to the reception, and once there you will have the chance to congratulate them as much as you want.

  • Now that you know, which elements of the Dominican culture can be added to your destination wedding, it is time to decide what you are going to do. It doesn't matter if you want to use one or them all, the important thing is to go with whatever makes you happy.

  • Everything that was mentioned above is just to lead you in the right direction so you can have the wedding you dream and deserve. Keep in mind it is your day, and your guests will be more than happy to be celebrating the happiest day of your life in the wonderful location that is the Dominican Republic.

» » Customs in DR

Top of page

Site Map | DisclaimerDisclosure Policy | Privacy Policy | Blog | FAQ | About | Contact us