“Dia de los Muertos” aka “Day of the Dead” for a wedding? As I was watching “My Fair Wedding” starring my favorite event planner, David Tutera this past Sunday, I was slightly bothered by the approach that was taken with the bride’s vision for her wedding. Had Mr. Tutera (and the bride) taken the theme and understood it in it’s cultural context, I’m sure he would not have been so bothered by the Dia de los Muertos theme. The “Day of the Dead” is not a solemn time, it’s a time to honor the beloved dead and to celebrate life. In its cultural context, it’s a day to celebrate with parades; bright colors; decorating an ofrenda (altar) with food, candies, calaveras (skeletons often portrayed doing every day tasks) and beautiful bright marigolds; baking of pan de muerto (a slightly sweet yeast bread with anise and cinnamon); making and decoration of sugar skulls; as well as decorating graves with gifts for the dead. It is believed that the possession of Day of the Dead items bring good luck. Dia de los Muertos is not a grim holiday, but it is often misunderstood as something dark and scary due to the prevalence of skulls and skeletons. Dia de los Muertos is a holiday of honor and celebration and can be incorporated in to a wedding or event theme when the planner understands the true meaning of the holiday.
Here is my version of a wedding with a Day of the Dead theme in keeping with the true meaning of the holiday. The paper cut outs are called “papel picado” and are used as the invitation, place mats, as well as a decoration for the plate. The “chandelier” of marigolds would be a central focus of the reception decor, probably a large one over the dance floor and smaller ones over each table. The bread you see is “pan de muerto,” bread of the dead. Monarch butterflies are believed to be the souls of the dead and represent life renewing itself (the Monarch butterfly migration takes place at the same time of the year as Dia de los Muertos).