Getting married is a wonderful right of passage and as we all know, no two weddings are the same. In many countries around the world weddings have evolved to include rituals and good luck related traditions. We’ve rounded up 54 wedding traditions from across the globe, many of which have ancient roots and are still practiced today.
Something Old Something New #LuckyCharm
An old English rhyme states that on their wedding day, brides should wear ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.’ Even though the sixpence has long been out of circulation this tradition is so enduring that brides can buy them especially to pop in their shoes on their wedding day. It’s thought to bring good luck.
Cake Or Crumbs #BridalBizarre
One wedding tradition that’s practiced all over the world hails from ancient Rome in Italy – namely having a wedding cake. In Rome the wedding guests would break a loaf of bread over the newlywed bride to encourage fertility.
Tower Of Temptation #FoodFantasy
In France the traditional wedding cake is actually called a croquembouche, which is a deliciously decadent tower of profiterole style of pastries that are filled with cream and can dipped in sweet sauces. Very Marie Antoinette.
Sweeten Up #RomanticTouch
Greeks have plenty of romantic traditions – including their ‘bed’ ritual which involves the relatives of the future bride and groom going to their home on the Thursday before the wedding. The unmarried girls will help make the bed with new white sheets while everyone watches, including the groom, who will get them to make it three times (what a taskmaster) until it’s perfect. After that the guests throw money as a gift on the bed to wish them a wealthy life and to top it all off, a baby is also put on their bed to bring them fertility.
5. Czech republic
Raining Rice #WeirdAndWonderful
Peas, lentils or rice are thrown at Czech newlyweds to try and encourage a fertile union between the couple. It’s worth a try!
Pretty Pennies #SuperSweet
In Sweden many brides are given coins from their parents to put in each shoe – this is so that they never have to do without. The father gives a silver coin wile the mother gives a gold coin.
Pillow Presents #HappilyEverAfter
In Finland the bride traditionally collected gifts by going door to door with a pillowcase. She’d do this with an older married man at her side to represent a long and happy marriage, how sweet is that?
Magic Trees #LuckyCharm
Once married in Holland, it’s tradition for a pine tree to be planted outside the house of the bride and groom to bring the couple good luck and lots of babies.
Dress Swap #WeirdAndWonderful
Less popular nowadays (sadly), it used to be commonplace for Danish brides and grooms to cross dress to confuse evil spirits.
Ring A Ding #AncientTradition
Evil spirits are also kept at bay in Ireland by using bells which are chimed throughout the wedding day. Seen as a way to promote a happy and harmonious life together, the bells are a symbol of good luck and a reminder to the bride and groom of their wedding vows. Some brides carry bells in their bouquets – and if that wasn’t enough, brides will often be given bells as wedding presents.
Rescue Romantic #LotsOfLOLS
Which groom doesn’t want to be the hero? In Romania there’s plenty of opportunity to show your traditional chivalry as it’s common for the bride to be mock abducted before the wedding ceremony. Usually this involves friends or family or even hired entertainers taking the bride away – the groom then has to come to her rescue and pay her ransom (normally via drinks, money or romantic gestures).
A Smashing Good Time #WeirdAndWonderful
In Germany it’s normal for stag and hen parties to be seen smashing plates and dishes outside the home of the engaged bride and groom. This is known as Polterabend, and it’s not the only fun traditional Germany wedding ritual that’s still popular. Another is log sawing which focuses on showing their ability to work together as man and wife. The bride and groom are expected to saw a log together in front of all their guests at their reception. It’s supposed to symbolise that they can overcome any tricky situation if they work together.
Money Dancing #SuperSweet
In Poland guests are expected to buy dances with the bride at the reception. Normally one of the bridesmaids collects the charges and the money is usually used to fund their honeymoon. The best bit? The bride can set her prices!
Back To Black #WeirdAndWonderful
Scottish brides and grooms to be have got a lot of fun in store as the night before their wedding they’re subjected to the ‘Blackening’ tradition – where they’re taken out by friends and family for lots of drinks and end the night being covered in treacle, ash, flour and feathers – all in the name of good luck!
Wine Surprise #FoodFantasy
Norwegian wedding receptions usually include a delicacy which is called a kransekake – it’s the traditional choice of wedding cake. Made from a tower of iced almond cake rings the cake is constructed over a wine bottle so that it is gradually revealed as the guests eat pieces of cake.
Blooming Romantic #SuperSweetIn
Wales bridal bouquets traditionally include myrtle which is a herb that’s associated with love. The bridesmaids are also given a sprig of myrtle with the idea being that if they go on to plant their myrtle they will be the next one to marry.
Flag Feast #WeirdAndWonderful
Turkish grooms are subject to a tradition which sees their friends plant the Turkish flag in front of his house on the day of the wedding ceremony. The flag is then decorated with fruits, vegetables and mirrors to show when the ceremony has begun.
Gift Giving #SuperSweet
One Spanish tradition which has been updated for modern times is the custom of grooms giving their bride 13 arras, or unity coins which represent his commitment to support her. Nowadays the coins represent the wealth and finances the couple will equally share together. Additionally in Spain the wedding ring is normally worn on the ring finger of the right hand.
Bridal BedTime #AncientTradition
Today Icelandic weddings are very Westernised but in the past a traditional Icelandic wedding would end with a very bizarre ritual. Before the ceremony finished the bridesmaids would be charged with taking the bride to bed and undressing her down to her bridal headdress. Of course it was the husband’s job to remove the headdress. Once tradition that hasn’t faded is the idea of the bride presenting a wedding bed gift to her husband. Grooms are also expected to present a gift to their bride on the bridal bed.
Bigger is Better #XXLGuestList
A truly traditional Cypriot wedding can see in excess of 2000 guests as the custom was that the entire village should be invited to bless the new couple. That’s a lot of booze!
Sash For Spirits #AncientTradition
In Lithuania each house is considered as having ‘spirits’ so when a newlywed bride first enters her new home she is expected to put a red towel or sash on the stove to try and gain their good will.
This Way Please #LotsOfLOLS
In Croatia each wedding has a barjaktar or flag bearer who fronts up the procession. The idea is that they direct the guests to the right venue and also to announce to other people that this queue of people or cars is on their way to a wedding ceremony. They’re also expected to have a bottle of alcohol in each pocket in case anyone is caught without a drink on the wedding day.
Big Mouth #LotsOfLOLS
Newly wed couples in Russia are given a wedding sweetbread known as shkaravaya – normally it has a motif of wheat and interlocking rings to symbolise commitment and wealth. The bride and groom each have to take a bite without using their hands and whose ever is the biggest bite is seen as the head of the family.
Flames Of Love #MeaningfulMarriage
The fire-lighting tradition of South Africa brings a whole new meaning to ‘flames of love’. Once the newlyweds are married it’s expected that the parents of the bride and groom bring fire from their own fireplaces to create a fire in the hearth of their new home together. It symbolises their union in such a beautiful way but transporting fire has got to be tricky.
Spit Spot #BridalBizarre
Unfortunately for brides in Kenya it’s traditional for the father of the bride to spit on his daughter’s head and chest when the newlyweds leave the village – it’s supposed to keep their good fortune in tact.
Why The Long Face? #MeaningfulMarriage
If you’re ever at a Congolese wedding don’t expect the bride and groom to look as though they’re having the best day of their lives. The newlyweds are expected to keep a straight face for their entire wedding day otherwise it would suggest that they’re not serious about their marriage.
Camel Dance #WeirdAndWonderful
In the West African country of Nigeria wedding receptions are often entertained with a camel dance which is performed in the desert to a thumping soundtrack of drums.
Symbolic Sacrifice #WeirdAndWonderful
Weddings aren’t good news for cows in Zimbabwe as it’s usual for a cow to be killed during a Zimbabwian wedding ceremony. If there are no cows available then often a goat will do.
Little Pinch #LuckyCharm
In Egypt the bride is pinched by the female guests on her wedding day because it’s supposed to bring good luck. That’s got to hurt!
Milk Bath #BridalBizarre
Brides in Morocco are expected to have a milk bath ahead of their wedding day in order to purify themselves. Very Cleopatra!
Big Love #BridalBizarre
It’s customary in Mauritius for young girls to put on weight ahead of their wedding day, with the idea being that the larger she is the better for the husband who is considered to be wealthier in order to have such a well-fed wife.
Liver Lovers #WeirdAndWonderful
Be glad you’re unlikely to marry in Mongolia. When a newly engaged couple is hoping to set a wedding date it’s traditional for them to kill a baby chicken and dissect it, in the hopes of finding a healthy liver. They must hold the knife together and must keep going until they find one. Poor chicks!
Salt Dreams #SuperSweet
We love this tradition from Armenia. If you want to know who your future husband or wife will be then you must eat a slice of salty bread, which has to be prepared by a married middle-aged woman or your grandmother. Once you’ve eaten the bread, that night you’re supposed to dream of your future husband or wife. It’s worth a chomp!
Home Alone #SuperSweet
In Indonesia tradition dictates that the bride and groom have to stay confined to their home together for three whole days. We can only imagine what they will get up to!
Bonding Booze #MeaningfulMarriage
In Japanese weddings the tradition of san-san-kudo sees the newlyweds take three sips from three sake cups, once they have drunk their parents do the same, symbolising the bond between the two families.
Belly Good Start #PartyTime
In Lebanon, the wedding starts with a party – there’s plenty of loud music and belly dancing and lots of shouting by friends of the bride and groom. Before the ceremony starts everyone goes to the bride’s house to shower the couple with blessings and petals as they head over to the ceremony together.
Lovey Dovey #MeaningfulMarriage
In Filipino wedding receptions doves play a symbolic role as the newlyweds have to release two doves into the air together, The idea is that they represent a long and peaceful life together.
Wooden Geese #WeirdAndWonderful
In Korea grooms traditionally give their new mother in law some wild geese or ducks which are seen as monogamous animals and represent the groom’s commitment and good intentions. It’s more commonplace nowadays for brides and grooms to exchange wooden geese and ducks on their wedding day to show their fidelity to one another.
Red Love #LuckyCharm
Chinese weddings have red as their main colour – it’s considered a very powerful colour that’s associated with strength, bravery, luck and love. In Chinese weddings the bride wears a red veil while her mother holds a red umbrella over her head to encourage fertility.
Henna Hands #RomanticTouch
In traditional Indian weddings the bride and many other women in the wedding party have intricate henna designs – Mehndi painted on their hands and bodies, these decorations symbolise the love and joy of the wedding.
Flower Power #GroovyGroom
Floral decorations aren’t just for bouquets and banquet tables, in Pakistan the groom is expected to wear a garland of flowers around his neck.
Blissful Binding #LetTheLoveFlow
Water Pouring Ceremony is probably one of the most — if not the most — important elements of a Thai wedding. It is where the elder guests take turns in pouring holy water upon the heads of the bride and groom using a traditional conch shell. It signifies that the couple is officially husband and wife.
Matchy Matchy #RomanticTouch
In traditional Iranian marriages, the bride and groom were expected to both wear white and have a garland of flowers around their necks – the white symbolises the purity of their love and their untarnished faithfulness to one another.
Raisin Rain #LuckyCharm
In a Yemeni wedding nothing beats the moment when the father of the groom throws a handful of raisins onto the carpet. Everyone there has to try and pick up as many raisins as possible because they represent a happy future for the newlyweds.
Light and Love #RomanticGlow
The Unity Candle Ceremony is a traditional wedding activity popular not only in the US but in other Christian and Catholic countries. This involves two taper candles that will be lighted by a significant family member from both sides and a bigger candle that will be lighted by the couple. Right after the exchange of vows, the bride and groom lights the Unity Candle together, symbolizing their union as husband and wife and indicating the unification of their families.
Rum Fun #FoodFantasy
In the Caribbean most wedding feasts feature a delicious cake make from dark fruits and rum.
Keep It In The Family #SuperSweet
In Argentina, bridesmaids and groomsmen don’t exist and it’s tradition that the bride and the groom are walked down the aisle by one of their parents. Normally the groom is accompanied by his mother and the bride is walked down the aisle by her father.
Bouquet Bonus #MeaningfulMarriage
In Mexico tradition dictates that brides have two floral bouquets – one for her and as a tribute to the Virgin Mary.
Cake Ring #RomanticTouch
The traditional wedding cake in Peru is decorated with ribbons and charms and the middle of the cake has a false wedding ring put in the centre. If an unmarried woman gets the slice with the ring inside folklore suggests she will be the next one to be married.
Cashing In #BridalBizarre
In Cuba every man that wants to dance with the bride has to physically pin money to her dress – the money is then used to fund the wedding and honeymoon. We like the sound of this!
Wedding Bells #RomanticTouch
In Guatemala no wedding is complete without the customary breaking of the bell. It’s tradition for everyone to go to the groom’s house after the reception where a white ceramic bell filled with rice, flour and grains will be hung above the door. As the bride and groom arrive the mother of the bride has to smash the bell. Doing this is meant to bring wealth and good fortune.
Search Party #RomanticTouch
It’s tradition for a Venezuelan bride and groom to sneak out of the wedding party before the end of the night but the trick is not to be caught. The idea is for everyone to be having so much fun they don’t realise that the bride and groom have snuck away. The guest who realises that they’re not there any more is supposed to have good luck.
Tooth Ache #WeirdAndWonderful
Men have their work cut out for them in Fiji. When they want to ask a woman’s father for her hand in marriage they’re expected to present their father-in-law to be with a whale tooth. That’s proper dedication!
54. French Polynesia
Rugged Romance #LotsOfLOLS
In French Polynesia, they have an unusual custom which probably isn’t suitable if you have lots of elderly family! After the wedding has finished it’s traditional for the relatives of the bride to lay side by side, facing the ground, while the newlyweds walk over them – like a human rug. We hope they take their shoes off first!
Stone Support #SuperSweet
In Australia unity bowls are a popular custom that we absolutely love. During the ceremony guests are each given a stone to hold. At the end of the wedding they place their stones in a bowl which is supposed to be displayed in the marital home to remind the newlyweds of the support and love they have from friends and family.