So, here’s the next installment of ‘Fascinating Wedding Traditions From Around The World’, bringing you interesting wedding customs from around the globe. Today, we’ll see what goes on during weddings in:
- A typical Cambodian wedding is a complicated and expensive affair that can go on for days requiring multiple intricate outfits and lots of very early morning wake-up calls. A wedding usually lasts three days, with many different ceremonies relating to ancient mythical Khmer stories that are done in a specific order to join the bride and groom in matrimony. Some weddings can last a week while others are only a day long, determined usually by the wealth of the parties involved.
- With different ceremonies comes lots of music, a dinner banquet, gifts, and, of course, people! Guests are encouraged to not only spectate but also become involved in each ceremony, since an emcee (MC) or host guides everyone along with commentary and instructions (and usually some comedy and teasing too). Music and songs performed on traditional instruments and gongs signal the arrival of the couple to each part of the wedding. There are usually silver or gold trays, along with candles, flowers, fresh fruit, and other decorations that are placed on the floor or a table in front of the bride and groom. The family and wedding guests usually sit on the floor around the couple, finding whatever space they can since usually these ceremonies are held at the bride’s family residence and space is limited.
- In China, a prospective husband will shoot his bride with a bow and arrow several times (without the arrowhead attached of course) then collects the arrows and breaks them during the ceremony, to ensure their love lasts forever. What would Cupid do?
- A bride’s family would hire a “good-luck” woman to take care of her as she traveled from her home to the groom’s in an elaborately decorated sedan chair. Attendants busy themselves by shielding the bride with parasols and tossing rice (a symbol of health and prosperity) at the chair.
- Another lighthearted Chinese tradition involves the bridesmaids giving the groom a hard time on the wedding day by putting him (and sometimes his guys) through a series of tests and challenges to prove that he is worthy of the bride. Then he must pay off the girls with envelopes full of money. That’s what friends are for!
- Brides typically walk down the aisle in a slim-fitting, embroidered dress, a traditional qipao or cheongsam. For the reception, they change into a more poofy, decked out gown with Western flare but the bridal fashion show doesn’t end there. To cap the night, Chinese brides often make a final change into a cocktail dress. Why have just one dress when you can have three.
- Brides and females of the Tujia people in China take wedding tears to a whole different level. Starting one month in advance the bride starts to cry for one hour everyday. Ten days into the waterworks her mother joins the picture, and 10 days after that grandma does the same. By the end of the month every female in the family is crying alongside the bride. The tradition is believed to be an expression of joy, as the women weep in different tones, reminiscent of a song.
- A common Colombian wedding tradition is the candle ceremony, which involves the bride and groom lighting separate candles and then using those candles to light another candle that symbolizes the bond they now share together.
- Another tradition is the Serenata. It is a pre-wedding tradition in which the groom surprises the bride and serenades her with a romantic song. The Serenata is usually performed with a band in front of family and friends and is followed by a party that can last several hours.
- One popular wedding tradition in Colombia involves the bride putting a coin in her shoe during the wedding. This symbolizes her desire to never be in a situation where she and her husband will ever be without the basic necessities in life. It is also common in some parts of Colombia for the bride and groom to be covered with a mantilla, or lace veil, which demonstrates they are now a family under one roof.
- Many Colombian brides wear long white dresses at their weddings, and during the reception, it is tradition for all single people to put one shoe under the bride’s dress. The groom picks one shoe and the owner of that shoe is going to be the next one to be married.
- Forget all about smiling on your big day if you say ‘I do’ in Congo. Congolese brides and grooms must control their excitement during the entire wedding day. From the moment they get up in the morning, to the ceremony and the reception, the happy couple is not allowed to smile at any point. Doing so would imply that they are not taking their vows seriously.
- The bride’s mother presents her with a set of pot lids that are carved with illustrations, which represent proverbs describing relations in the marriage.
- One Costa Rican tradition, which some other cultures may find weird, has the bride wearing a black silk wedding dress with a veil. Many may think that this is more appropriately worn by a widow rather than a bride. The groom, on the other hand, wears a white shirt which has been hand-embroidered by his future wife. This shows that the bride already shows her devotion to her future husband, though modern women would rather buy ready-to-wear machine embroidered shirts. Most likely the result of traditional embroidery skills haven’t been passed down the generations or simply because the bride has no time to do it herself.
- There is also a traditional exchange of 13 gold coins during the wedding ceremony. These coins are placed in a bag, box, or tray. This will be given to the bride by the groom. It symbolizes the groom’s willingness to be the head of the family and support his bride. The coins are carried by the bride and are going to be blessed by a priest. The 13 coins also have religious symbolism connected to them. They symbolize Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles.
- Another wedding tradition of the Costa Ricans or ‘Ticos’ as they like to call themselves, is that the wedding celebration is accompanied by lively Spanish music, since these people love dancing to live music. And the party usually ends up running late into the night.
- Before a small box with an expensive ring came into fashion, young Croatian men proposed marriage with a piece of fruit referred to as obiljezje (the mark). Basically, it’s an ordinary apple with coins stuck into it. If the girl accepted it, the obiljezje would mark her with the man who proposed, thus making them engaged.
- A custom that is quite bizarre yet frequently practiced by Croats is the custom of buying the bride in front of her house. The groom arrives with musicians, his best man and other participants of the celebration in the groom’s party, yelling into a window that he wants to marry a girl. The door is then opened, usually by male family members of the bride who acknowledge the existence of a bride inside, but they are not just giving her away. From this point on, several options are available. Sometimes, the groom bids and barters for the bride but the family refuses to sell, deeming his offers too low. In the end the family gives her away for free if the groom promises to love her with all his heart.
- After church, everybody leaves for a restaurant or a catering site where they celebrate the newly wedded couple. However, the customs don’t stop there. In addition to the universally known event during which the bride tosses the bouquet amongst unwed girls and the one who catches it is believed to be the next bride, the male oriented variation of the custom also exists in Croatia, where the groom throws the bride’s garter, and the male who catches it will get married next.
- Other old customs were used to determine who will be the real leader of the house once the couple began living together. After the actual wedding, the two would try to step on each other’s feet. If the groom succeeded to do so before the bride, he would be the head of the house. On the other hand, if the bride managed to step on the groom’s foot, she would call the shots in marriage. In another version, the newly wedded pair would race to the church doors. The winner would run the house.
- The most prominent Cuban wedding tradition involves the bride’s dress. The dress that the bride wears is considered the central theme of the wedding and is expected to be lavish and extravagant.
- The most popular tradition that is performed at Cuban weddings is the money dance. This is when the bride dances with several people and they all pin money to her dress as a gift to help her start a new life with her husband. It is a longstanding tradition in Cuba that the bride’s family pays for the wedding. The bride and groom can also expect to receive a large gift from both their parents that will help them begin their married life together.
- Another popular tradition is for the bride and groom to give all of their guests a gift as a thank you for attending the wedding. These gifts are usually handmade items or ribbons with the name of the bride and groom on them. Guests at more extravagant weddings can sometimes receive a nice cigar to celebrate the union of the bride and groom. Weddings in Cuba are not a religious event because the country is still under Communist rule. This means most Cuban wedding traditions are performed at the reception that is held after the wedding.
- In Denmark, there is a traditional custom called the “Gate of Honor” which is an arch of pine branches built in front of the home of the bride’s family. The Gate can be attached to the doorway or somewhere freestanding across the path leading up to the house. The Gate of Honor is erected once again for the couple’s silver anniversary.
- During the reception the groom will disappear and all the male guests will come up and kiss the new bride and the female guests will kiss the groom once the bride disappears. Also, the guests will gather around the groom and use scissors to cut his tie and socks. Speeches and songs for the bridal couple are a personal and touching part of the reception.
- The Kransekage is the customary wedding cake and the newlyweds cut the cake together and all of the guests must eat a piece, otherwise it is said to bring bad luck to the marriage.
- According to etiquette, the brudevals (the bridal waltz) must be danced before midnight. The guests encircle the bride and groom and clap to the dance steps of the waltz. Closer to the end of the dance the guests slowly walk toward the bride and groom giving them less and less dance floor space until there is none.
- In Denmark, wedding guests rip the brides veil into pieces for good luck. If a piece of the veil is kept safe for 25 years it is automatically an invite for the couples silver wedding anniversary celebrations.
- There are no superstitions about it being bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony. In fact, several hours before the wedding families will join together to take the wedding pictures.
- Having padrinos and madrinas, or godparents of the wedding, is very traditional. Typically the mother of the groom and the father of the bride fill the role of godparents and will serve as witnesses to the marriage. Along with the couple, the godparents also sign the marriage certificate.
- Another Dominican wedding tradition is to have a ceremonia cantada, meaning that every piece of music is actually sung, sometimes by the guests themselves, instead of being played by a band or over the speakers or just instrumental.
- The ancient Egyptians were the first people who stated marriage laws in the world and they regarded marriage as a civil and legal relationship. Marriage in ancient Egypt was a religious imposition and their laws organized the marriage relationship and indicated all rights and duties for the couples. The wife was respected greatly, and she had high prestige. The couple had a lot of chances to get to know each other before the engagement; for example, in the temples or at the common feasts. There was a custom in the Egyptian family which allowed the adult daughter to welcome the guests who came to visit her parents.
- The marriage contract is signed and registered by “maazon“, a man who has an official license to sign and register the marriage contract, in attendance of the couple and their families and friends, and this procedure happens in the birde’s house or at a mosque.
Estonia must be the world leader in wedding traditions! Many are completely incomprehensible to the outsider (or even the insiders). Here’s just a few:
- Casting lead on the couple will ensure faith and understanding. (How much lead isn’t specified!)
- The bridal couple throw coins on the four roads of every crossroads they pass on the way to the wedding. This is supposed to bring wealth.
- Left-over food must be left on the table and not cleared up till dawn, so that lost ghosts and wandering spirits can eat it.
- Should the bride give her stocking or scarf to anyone at the wedding it means she wants him or her to keep guard at the bedroom door during the night!