This tradition is usually associated with Hispanic families.
The madrina de arras (godmother of arras) holds the 13 gold coins the bridegroom presents to the bride. The coins, or arrhea, was a Roman custom of breaking gold or silver, one half to be kept by the woman and the other half by the man, as a pledge of marriage.
The custom of the giving of wedding coins originated in Spain. Thirteen gold coins (arras) are given to the bride by the bridegroom, signifying his willingness to support her. Often presented in ornate boxes or gift trays, this represents the brides dowry and holds good wishes for prosperity. These coins become a part of their family heirloom.
13 Gold Coins Example
The symbolism, which may be explained by the officiant, is that the Groom recognizes his responsibility as a provider, and pledges his ability to support and care for her. Acceptance by the bride means taking that trust and confidence unconditionally with total dedication and prudence.
The number 13 represents Christ and his 12 apostles. Another popular belief is that the thirteen coins represent the 12 lunar cycles of a year, and the thirteenth coin symbolizes the couple's honeymoon.
The coins are presented to the minister by a friend or relative (often the purchaser of the coins). The minister then blesses the coins and hands them to the bride who places them in the groom's cupped hands at the beginning of the ceremony.
The coins are then placed on a tray and handed to an assistant to be held until later in the ceremony. Near the end of the ceremony the box and coins are given to the minister who places the coins in the box and hands them to the groom.
The groom will then pour the coins into the bride's cupped hands and places the box on top as a symbol of his unquestionable trust, confidence and pledge to provide financially for them. Sometimes their hands are bound with a ribbon for this portion of the ceremony.