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Include a ‘Calavera Literaria’ in Your Day of the Dead Wedding Ceremony

Published Monday, Oct. 9th, 2023

Photo: Oleg Elkov / iStock

Planning a Day of the Dead themed wedding ceremony? Include a funny calaveras poem or two… We’ll tell you how to write one and when to include it! 


Calavera literaria, or calaveras poems, are traditional Mexican poems written to celebrate Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. They often take the form of a mock eulogy or epitaph, written as if someone has died… even though they are still very much alive. 


Calaveras poems are funny, lighthearted, and irreverent. Friends and loved ones sometimes write each other calaveras poems to exchange as gifts, and they can be short or long, rhyming or not, sweet or scathing (like an American comedy ‘roast’), and anything in between. 


If you’re planning a unique Day of the Dead wedding ceremony, why not include a playful calavera literaria as a wedding reading? 


A literary calaveras can be read by the wedding officiant during the invocation to ‘eulogize’ the newlyweds as they begin their new life as married people. Or the couple might exchange poems aloud as a funny start to their wedding vows. New in-laws might read one before a closing blessing, or a bridesmaid or best man might choose to read one at the wedding reception following the ceremony. 





Here’s an example of a calaveras poem used as an opening reading by a wedding officiant, during the ceremony’s invocation: 







“Dearly beloved, we’re gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of _____________ and _____________. Each of us has played an important role in their relationship, supporting them along their path to this joyful day, and watching as their love has deepened with the passing of time. 


But with this new beginning, comes an end


_____________ and _____________ are entering the world us married people know very well. One of responsibility, sacrifice, joint budgets, and compromise. Trips to see the in-laws on the weekend when you’d rather curl up on the couch. Saying yes to boring parties, and biting your tongue to keep the peace.


Yes, beloved friends and family, today _____________ and _____________ bury their carefree youth in exchange for lasting love. That’s the end of it! It’s dead! (laughter) As one chapter ends, another begins. And so, let us say our goodbyes…


'They met at a dinner party with friends, 
Neither one knowing the meal meant their end, 
They laughed and they drank and made out in a cab, 
And woke the next morning with headaches that stabbed! 
For the next few months, they tried to be friends, 
Light lunches, and coffee, carefully watching their ‘hands’…
The two doomed lovers thought they’d been spared, 
But love was just waiting to catch them unawares. 
One warm, starry night, a year after the dinner, 
The two kissed again and knew they were done for. 
They accepted their fate, and you know the rest, 
They said ‘I do’ to marriage, a most joyful death.'

_____________ and _____________, are you ready to begin this new adventure?”



Two skulls decorated with colorful paint and flowers for a Day of the Dead wedding

Photo: wpd911 / iStock

How to Write a Calavera Literaria

for your Día de los Muertos Wedding Ceremony


To write your own calavera literaria, follow these simple instructions. And don’t forget to have fun!  


(The instructions below are based on this great writing advice from Hallmark)



1. Pick who or what to eulogize 


The subject of your poem might be a person, or a concept (like ‘love,’ ‘youth,’ ‘worry,’ etc), and will likely depend on your role in the ceremony. For example, if you’re writing a calavera poem to include as part of your written vows, you’ll eulogize your new spouse or your past life. (Make sure your partner is in on this plan! This irreverent approach won’t appeal to everyone. This works best if you’ve agreed to exchange poems in a funny, loving way.)


If you’re the officiant, you might eulogize the newlyweds (like the sample script above). Best men and bridesmaids might eulogize the partner they’re closest to, and so on. 


2. Introduce your protagonist and foreshadow their fate


Who is your poem about? Introduce the main character(s) and give your audience a hint about their impending doom. Storytellers call this ‘foreshadowing,’ and it builds delightful suspense in your poem! 


3. Describe the death


You’ll need to let everyone know how your subject meets their demise… For example, did ‘youth’ die after a wild night of neon lights and tequila shooters? Did the newlyweds perish under a pile of wedding planning books and cake samples? Did the in-laws die when they heard about the unplanned elopement in Vegas? You get the idea! 


4. Keep it colorful! 


Mix in some colorful imagery, unexpected plot twists, and silly rhymes. Have fun, and remember to keep things lighthearted! Calavera poems are meant to be playful, and weddings should always be treated with respect, as an important and joyful event. 


small skull and crossed bones clip art


Sweet & Spooky Skulls

'Til Death Do Us Part

Marriage Certificate 


This unique marriage certificate features whimsical skull and wildflower illustrations and bold gothic style text -- a perfect way to commemorate a love that will last until the both of you are nothing but bones... a sweet and spooky love to last for all eternity! 


Product image of the Sweet and Spooky skulls marriage certificate with illustrated skulls and flowers


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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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