Family unity is an important element in many Hispanic households. The pedir la mano is a way to involve both the families of the bride and groom and the parish community in supporting the couple.
There are two basic parts to this custom that takes place before an official engagement is announced:
First, the would-be groom’s family meets with the would-be bride’s family—often with the parish priest present. The man’s family then officially asks the woman’s family for permission for their marriage.
The second part of the custom involves the wider parish community. At the end of one of the parish’s Sunday Masses, some time before the wedding, the engaged couple receives a simple blessing from the priest and the assembly present.
The pedir la mano, especially the first part of the custom, may seem very outdated in this age when many couples build their relationship independent of their immediate family. Yet this tradition may serve to strengthen the bond you have with your respective families and they with each other. This can be especially important if your families include children from a previous marriage. This custom also gives your parish community a chance to show their support and care for you as you prepare for your wedding.