If there’s one thing that unites every culture, it’s love. How that love is symbolized and celebrated, on the other hand, is another story. Each culture has it’s own wedding traditions and ways of uniting two people and some of these traditions have been passed down for hundreds of years. Even American weddings have traditional elements, like the rice and bouquet toss, for example. Some couples might not even know why they’re doing it, but it’s a tradition and can bring a personal and historical context to the wedding.
We’ve rounded up 15 fascinating wedding traditions from around the world that are sure to enlighten, educate, and maybe even inspire you to start a tradition of your own.
1. Let’s Get Serious – In the Congo, couples must show they’re serious about marriage by keeping their composure throughout the whole wedding day. That means no smiles, no laughter, no outward show of happiness from reception to ceremony.
2. Baby Got Back – In many parts of the world, carrying extra body weight is seen as a sign of wealth. Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation, weaves this thought into their wedding traditions by requiring to-be brides to pack on the pounds before their wedding day. The more weight she has, the luckier the husband is, as he’s thought to have great wealth to have such a well-fed wife.
3. Sweet Thing – A Grecian groom’s new mother-in-law will feed him honey-dipped almonds as a way to welcome him into the family. Wedded couples also like to give almonds to guests as favors by placing an odd number in white satchels or bowls. Why an odd number? Because it can’t be divided by two, which symbolizes the couple’s strong union.
4. Looking Good – In Jamaica, villagers line up as the bride presents herself for their validation. Onlookers are welcome to shout out negative comments if her appearance isn’t to satisfaction. If the majority has something bad to say, the bride must go back home and try a different look.
5. Equal Opportunity – Russian couples share a sweetbread on their wedding day. Whoever takes a bigger bite without using their hands is considered the head of the household.
6. A Worthy Companion – On the wedding day, bridesmaids in China put the groom through a series of challenges to see if he’s worthy of the bride (it’s all in fun, because honestly, it’s a bit late at that point, don’t you think?). Afterward, the groom must pay off the bridesmaids with envelopes full of money! With this kind of wedding tradition, always a bridesmaid might not be such a bad thing.
7. Love Birds – In the Philippines, the bride and groom release a pair of white doves (one male, one female) to represent a harmonious life together.
Photo by Soroush Karimi via Unsplash
8. His Lucky Tie – Spain has a wedding tradition similar to that of the bride tossing her bouquet. The groom’s tie is cut into pieces and auctioned off to his friends, but instead of foretelling who will get married next, those who get a piece of the tie will have good luck.
9. Seeing Red – In Vietnam, red symbolizes good luck, so there’s very little white incorporated into a Vietnamese wedding. Instead, attire, decor, and even food is awash in the crimson color.
10. Liver or Love Her – Engaged couples in Daur, China must dissect a chicken and inspect its liver for health. If it’s a healthy liver they can set their wedding date. If not, they have to keep looking until they find “the one.”
11. Mars Meltdown – Indian men and women who are born with Mars in the wrong house (1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th or 12th house in their moon sign) are believed to be cursed and are required to marry a banana tree or statue of Vishnu before they can marry another human. This is said to offset any negative impact the curse might have on his or her significant other.
12. Spit Blessing – In Kenya, the father of the bride blesses his daughter by spitting on her head and breasts. Afterward, the bride leaves with her groom and never looks back in fear of turning to stone.
13. Smashing Good Time – Many cultures have a tradition that symbolizes the couple’s ability to work together. One such tradition in Germany suggests that guests gather at the couple’s home on the eve of the wedding to smash crockery. The couple must then clean up the mess to demonstrate that by working together they can handle anything that comes their way.
14. Kiss and Tell – We’ve all heard, “You may now kiss the bride,” but Sweden takes it one step further by allowing anyone to kiss the bride if the groom leaves the room and vice versa.
15. Beauty and the Bride – Indian brides are adorned with henna tattoos a few days before the wedding, which are not only to show her beauty, but to protect her as well. The bride may also be escorted to a purifying bath by musicians and dancers. So festive!
Do you or your groom plan on any special traditions for your wedding. If so, please share. We would love to learn more about it.