Whether you want to honour your ancestors’ traditions, or you are simply interested in wedding customs from around the world, there are hundreds of world wedding customs that you may not know about.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Scandinavian wedding traditions
Many of the customs performed at Scandinavian weddings relate to fertility, symbolising the fact that a marriage is meant to create not only a couple, but a family. A good example of this is in Norway, where two small fir trees are planted either side of the newlyweds’ front door.
In Finland, rather than throwing her bouquet to determine the next girl to be married, the bride is blindfolded and places a gold crown on the head of one of her single friends as they dance around her. In Sweden and Denmark it is customary for all the girls to get up and kiss the groom whenever the bride leaves the room and vice versa.
Southern European wedding customs
Spanish weddings are still largely religious affairs, and they do not generally take place until the evening. During the wedding ceremony, a purse containing thirteen gold coins is given to the bride by the groom as a kind of dowry, and also to represent Jesus and his twelve disciples. In many parts of Spain brides wear orange blossom to symbolise fertility, and grooms are accompanied down the aisle by their mothers.
In certain areas of Italy, the progress of the bridal party to the church is a very significant part of the ceremony. The bride may walk to church, encountering various obstacles on the way such a crying child she must comfort, a beggar that she must give money to, and a broom that she must step over. Each of these obstacles represents qualities that her fiance will want in a wife such as motherliness, generosity and domesticity.
Asian wedding customs
In China, a wedding is made up of a number of different parts. The couple will initially attend a tea ceremony at the groom’s house, to which the bride often wears a western style wedding dress. She must change before the next part of the wedding, which is a visit to her parents’ house, to symbolize the passing of three days. This is the time when some brides will wear the traditional red silk embroidered gown. This visit is usually followed by an evening banquet.
Japanese brides are painted entirely in white for their wedding ceremonies to symbolise purity, and they are dressed in a white kimono and headpiece. The bride will then change into a red kimono for the reception. During the ceremony, sake is drunk both by the couple and their guests, to symbolize the bonding of the bride and groom and their families.
Latin American wedding traditions
Couples in Guatemala are physically bound together with silver rope during their wedding ceremonies to demonstrate their commitment to one another. A similar ritual is performed in Mexico using a rosary or white rope. In many Latin American countries, bridesmaids and the best man are replaced by the couple’s parents or godparents.
In Chile and Argentina it is customary for couple to exchange wedding rings at the beginning of the engagement rather than during the wedding ceremony. The rings are work on the right hand during the engagement and move to the left hand after the wedding.