Wedding Traditions From Around the World
We've compiled a list of classic and modern wedding traditions and customs from around the world. Get ready to be amazed and inspired!(12 Photos)
Chinese Wedding Traditions
-On the morning of the wedding, the groom ‘fetches’ the bride in an elaborate ceremony that can involve ‘tasks’ from the bride’s family – things the groom must do before they will ‘let her go.’
-The pre-wedding tea ceremony at the groom’s family home is an integral part of any Chinese wedding. It’s the formal ‘introduction’ of the bride to her new in-laws.
-Red is the central colour in Chinese culture, and is used for invitations, decorations and more.
-The bride and groom have to keep their shoes on from the time they put them on in the morning until the end of the wedding. Let’s hope they bought some good insoles!
-Only after the wedding reception are the bride and groom considered truly married in the eyes of their friends and families.
-Traditionally, the bride returns home three days after the wedding, as a guest bearing gifts to her family. Now, a simple outfit change after the tea ceremony at the groom’s home represents the passing of three days.Masterfile
French-Canadian Wedding Traditions
-The groom and his party meet the bride and her family at her house. They take a train of cars to the wedding together, often honking and yelling to announce their happiness. Anyone they see along the way shouts well-wishes.
-The entire wedding party enters the church together.
-French women, without fail, wear white on their wedding days. Some believe the idea originated in France.
-The ‘sock dance’ is an integral part of any French-Canadian wedding reception. Unmarried siblings of the bride or the groom wear funny socks and do a silly dance. Guests throw money at the performer(s), which the bride and groom later collect. Cool!
-Some couples include traditional French-Canadian folklorique music in their receptions as a way to reference their French roots.
-French-Canadians have a sneaky way of avoiding lame wedding gifts. By putting ‘Presentation only’ on the invites, they’re asking others not to bring gifts, but cash instead.Masterfile
Jewish Wedding Traditions
-Sometimes, both the bride and groom wear white on their wedding day to symbolize purity.
-It’s not just the bride who is walked down the aisle at Jewish weddings – the groom’s parents escort him to the Chuppah (more on that soon) then the bride and her parents follow.
-Traditionally, Jewish brides and grooms signed an Aramaic document called a Ketubah that indicated the bride’s acceptance of the groom’s proposal and his ownership of her. Eek! Modern couples are reviving this tradition, though now it just includes simple vows of commitment and love.
-Jewish couples say their vows under a Chuppah, or wedding canopy, sometimes covered in flowers. It symbolizes the couple’s new home.
-‘The Breaking of the Glass’ is a huge Jewish wedding tradition. After the ceremony, the groom steps on a cloth-covered glass. This has many meanings, such as the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, or simply a reminder of the fragility of life and sanctity of marriage.
-The reception meal begins with Hamotzi, the Blessing the Challah, a sweet, braided loaf of bread.
-The Hora, or chair dance is a huge, and fun, part of Jewish wedding receptions. Brave guests hoist the bride and groom above their heads on chairs to the sounds of Hava Nagila as others dance in a circle around them.iStockPhoto
Indian (Hindu) Wedding Traditions
-In separate, pre-wedding ceremonies, called mandap muhurat, both bride and groom are smeared with turmeric, a yellow powder that makes their skin smooth.
-Bridal mehndi, elaborate henna hand paintings, are an integral part of an Indian bride’s beauty regimen. Female friends help apply them during a mehndi party prior to the wedding.
-Red symbolizes good luck in Hinduism. This is why brides wear traditional saris in red or red and white with gold detailing.
-The most important part of a Hindu wedding ceremony is Saptapadi, or the exchanging of vows. The bride and groom do so while circling a sacred fire three times. After the first round (of exactly seven steps) they exchange vows. After the third, the groom gives the bride a silver ring as a gesture of love. The couple also exchanges flower garlands as additional symbols of love.
-Guests at Indian weddings don bright colours, in traditional garb, if possible.
-Instead of cake, Indian newlyweds feed each other five bites of a sweet food (usually honey and yogurt). Healthy and tasty!Masterfile
Spanish Wedding Traditions
-It is custom for the groom to give the bride’s father a watch after she accepts his proposal. The groom also gives the bride a gift of 13 gold coins (las arras) that symbolize God’s love.
-Traditionally, Spanish women wore black, not white, silk dresses, with black lace veils. Now, white dresses are common, though veils are almost always present; they symbolize God’s protection.
-In the past, men often wore embroidered shirts on their wedding days, handmade by their future wives. Some still adhere to this practice – let’s hope she paid attention in home ec!
-Orange blossoms, or azahares, are the flower of choice for Spanish weddings. They represent happiness and fulfillment.
-Some Spanish couples exchange wedding rings on their right, not left, hands.
-Spanish wedding receptions are lively, often with a mariachi band. The Sequidillas Manchegas is a popular style of dance performed.
-Paella, a Spanish ‘stew’ made with seafood and rice is served, as is sangria, a boozy cocktail made with wine and fresh fruit. Yum!Masterfile
Japanese Wedding Traditions
-Shinto shrines are the traditional place for Japanese weddings, with only the family in attendance, though many Western couples don’t practice this.
-The sharing of sake, or san-san-kudo, is the most important Japanese wedding tradition. The groom, then the bride, takes three sips of rice wine from three different cups. Then they offer it to their families to symbolize a new bond.
-Traditionally, brides wear colourful kimonos or shiromukus, formal Japenese-style gowns, for their wedding days. Now, it is standard for them to wear white, a symbol of purity, then change into an irouchiakake -or red, gold, silver, and white kimono following the ceremony.
-Lobster is a common wedding food for the Japanese, because it’s bright red – the colour of luck. Clams are also served whole – to symbolize a couple’s unity.
-Food is never served in courses of four at weddings. Four is an unlucky number for the Japanese, because their word for it, shi, sounds like their word for 'death.'
-The standard wedding gift for a Japanese couple is cash, called Oshugi, often handed out in decorative envelopes, Shugi-Bukuro. Easy peasy!iStockPhoto
African Wedding Traditions
African wedding traditions vary greatly. These are some of the ones that 'marry' well with modern Western weddings.
-In some African tribes, the bride and groom are tied together at the wrist to symbolize their marriage. To honour this, some Western couples do the same.
-Kola nuts are essential in African medicine, and weddings. The newly married couple shares a kola nut with their parents to symbolize the newlyweds’ willingness to always help heal each other.
-The origins of a popular wedding tradition, ‘Jumping the Broom,' are hugely up for debate. Today, the couple leaping the household item together symbolizes the start of their new home.
-In a Yoruba ritual, called ‘Tasting the Four Elements,’ the newlywed couple tastes four flavours that represent a relationship's ups and downs: sour (lemon), bitter (vinegar), hot (cayenne), and sweet (honey). This symbolizes the couple's willingness to get through the tough times in their marriage and appreciate the sweet.
-Cowrie shells, white, black and brown, from West Africa, represent fertility and prosperity. They are commonly used in wedding decorations and cake designs.
-Some couples incorporate traditional African dress into their weddings. Some go all out, while other weddings favour Western dress with African elements – like cummerbunds or shawls. Others forgo traditional garb altogether.Masterfile
Italian Wedding Traditions
-Italians consider Sunday weddings the luckiest.
-Some tie a knot in front of the wedding chapel to symbol the couple’s unity.
-Brides usually wear veils at Italian weddings to conceal their faces and ward off evil spirits.
-Guests perform The Tarantella, a fast, energetic dance to wish the couple a long, happy future. Guests form a circle and dance around the newlyweds.
-Food is paramount at receptions. Some weddings feature as many as 14 food and drink courses, starting with antipasto and ending with espresso and cake.
-The drinks of choice at Italian weddings are wine and grappa. Get ready for red teeth!
-The Evviva gli sposi or ‘hurray for the newlyweds’ is a common Italian wedding toast. Guests cheer thunderously in response.
-Italians often break a glass at the end of the wedding reception. The number of shards of glass symbolizes the number of happy years the couple will have.Masterfile
Muslim Wedding Traditions
The Islamic faith is the second-largest and fastest-growing religion in the world, spanning the continents, thus wedding celebrations vary from culture to culture. Here, are some of the inspirational shared and unique practices.
-‘Dads Night’ is a religious tradition in many Muslim cultures. Male relatives on both sides meet at noon the Friday before the wedding to pray for the couple.
-Dress greatly differs from culture to culture, but brides can be ornately decorated for their weddings. For Indian Muslims, mehndi or henna on the hands and feet is popular. Some brides, however, are mostly or completely covered.
-Some Muslim weddings are extravagant, but conservatives avoid lavish celebrations; it is considered an unnecessary expense. Instead, parents and relatives give the bride and groom money that would have been spent on the wedding to start their new lives together.
-After the bride and groom sign their wedding contract, the families and friends celebrate with a feast called Walima, which can last two days. Guests dine on fish, chicken and rice - all symbols of fertility. Candy-coated almonds, considered aphrodisiacs, are also served.
-Guests often give the bride and groom eggs as gifts symbolizing fertility and righteousness. In Indonesia, the groom steps on an egg to indicate he approves the marriage, and in Morocco, eggs are broken at the reception.iStockPhoto
Greek Wedding Traditions
-The bride and groom perform many of the ceremonial wedding rituals three times to represent the Holy Trinity.
-Greek brides used to wear yellow or red veils, representing fire, to ward off evil spirits.
-Some contemporary brides still mix herbs into their wedding bouquets; in the past, carrying the aromatic plants or grains represented fertility.
-Greek wedding receptions sometimes turn into cooking competitions, with attendees bringing cakes and sweets or simply submitting recipes to earn praise.
-The Kalamatiano is an energetic circle dance the bridal party performs at the reception.
-Sometimes, the bride and groom will perform a ‘money dance,’ where the guests throw bills at them.
-At the reception, people smash dishes on the floor for good luck. Let’s hope it’s not the good china!
-Grooms cut up their ties at the end of the wedding reception; the couple then ‘sells’ the pieces to guests.iStockPhoto
Irish Wedding Traditions
-In Ireland, every leap year (February 29) it’s tradition for women to propose to men (like in the Amy Adams movie of the same name). The practice goes back to the time when leap years had no meaning in English law.
-If you can get married on St. Patrick’s Day, do so. The Irish consider this the luckiest anniversary date of the year. Just be sure to serve green beer at the reception!
-The Irish consider it good luck to have your birthstone on your engagement ring, even if that stone isn’t otherwise ‘lucky’.
-Wardrobe malfunction: the Irish consider it lucky to accidentally tear your dress on your wedding day.
-Irish brides used to carry real horseshoes for good luck on their wedding day. Now, it’s more common for brides to have porcelain or fabric horseshoes, the latter worn on the wrist.
-Couples want to receive at least one bell as a wedding gift to keep in their new home. When they get in a fight, one rings the bell to end the argument peacefully.
-Celtic music is an integral part of any traditional Irish wedding reception.Masterfile
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