When a purely Halloween wedding theme just doesn’t seem creative enough, or if you’re honoring your Mexican roots, turn to Dia de los Muertos–a Mexican holiday that honors and celebrates departed loved ones. Unlike American memorial occasions, which are often solemn and quite the opposite of a festive event like a wedding, the Mexican Day of the Dead is a colorful and exuberant celebration honoring love, friendship, and ties that reach beyond the end of life.
The upcoming holiday of Halloween affords the perfect opportunity for a Dia de los Muertos wedding theme. Unlike traditional Halloween themes, which tend towards gothic fashion and black décor, Dia de los Muertos is a colorful and life-affirming tradition for Halloween couples who want a more uplifting take on the holiday.
Skulls at a Wedding?
As strange as it may sound, skull decorations have a lot to offer a wedding celebration. In Dia de los Muertos tradition, skulls aren’t depressing. Just like in Jewish wedding tradition, where the groom breaks a glass to honor past tragedies, the reminder of death in the midst of a festive occasion brings gravity and context to the wedding. The knowledge that life is finite encourages people to savor each moment fully. Plus, since Dia de los Muertos is a holiday where departed loved ones are felt to be closer than ever, the inclusion of traditional skull motifs are a way of including everyone important in your life; past and present together.
Dia de los Muertos Decorations
If you enjoy vivid colors, you’re in luck. Dia de los Muertos favors bright, brilliant colors. Rather than limiting yourself to two or three wedding colors, choose an entire range of yellows, oranges, purples, reds, emeralds, and blues.
Traditional decorations place a strong emphasis on intricate, lace-like designs. Employ these in your cake icing, tablecloths, and wedding stationery–even in your wedding makeup! The holiday is a great opportunity to add glitter, too, for couples who sparkle at heart.
The best decorations aren’t always the most expensive. Evoke a festival atmosphere by making colorful, DIY crepe paper flowers to hang from the venue ceiling. Marigolds are traditional flowers in Dia de los Muertos celebrations. The cheerful yellow and golden blossoms resemble crepe paper themselves, so interspersing the two types of blossoms enables you to fill a large space quickly and affordably.
Candles are an essential part of Dia de los Muertos. Although they are usually arranged in altars to honor dead relatives, their flickering lights also add brightness to all surfaces. Practice fire safety by keeping open flame away from flammable fabrics and places they can be accidentally jostled. If your venue doesn’t allow candles, use faux flames instead.
Looking for the perfect cake wedding toppers? Try skeleton figurines! These traditional decorations feature his-and-hers skeletons dressed to the nines in holiday regalia. Bride and groom skeletons are a favorite, recurring theme in Day of the Dead decorations, which makes them a perfect choice for wedding cake toppers.
Don’t forget the edible décor! Decorate dessert tables and wedding cakes with sugar skulls. You can buy these holiday treats from Mexican bakeries or you can make your own at home from molds. Decorate your cake with an homage to Mexican cultural artwork in the icing designs. Cupcakes and cake pops are especially perfect opportunities to craft delicious artwork around your theme. Traditional Mexican food makes for a tasty wedding menu, as well.
Wondering how to create standout fingernail art? Decorate your nails with tiny paintings of sugar skulls. Instead of looking morbid, sugar skulls are a traditional reminder of something sweet. Alternate them with tiny paintings of marigolds for a more colorful manicure.
Face painting is one of the most creative and enjoyable aspects of the holiday. During festivals, participants paint artistic, stylized skull patterns on their faces. If that sounds like a bit too much for your wedding reception, do it for your engagement photo shoot instead.
Celebrate Deep Meaning
Don’t forget the meaning behind the holiday. Honor friends and relatives who have passed in whatever way seems the most meaningful for you. Ultimately, Dia de los Muertos is about the connection between loved ones both living and dead.
Whether you want to set up an altar of candles and photographs of relatives, or you just want to remember absent wedding guests in your heart, take a quiet moment to appreciate the connections and love you have had in your life–and all of the loving connections that still await.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.