Wherever you go, marriage is sacred. But different cultures have their own unique ways of preparing for and celebrating the happy couple’s nuptials. Here QUIZ, retailers of occasion dresses, tell Vows & Venues a few weird and wonderful wedding traditions from around the world.
As China is a large nation, wedding and bridal traditions can depend on which region you’re from. Tujia brides must cry for an hour a day every day for a month in the run-up to their wedding. After ten days, the bride’s mother joins her in crying daily before being joined by her grandmother. As the other women join in, it’s seen as an expression of their joy.
Did you know that in the Yugar culture, grooms shoot their brides with a bow and arrow? Thankfully, there is no sharp end! After shooting their bride three times, the arrows are broken, showing that the couple will always love each other.
There’s also a ‘good luck woman’ present at the wedding. This woman is considered lucky if she has living parents, a spouse and children, and it is hoped she will pass on some of this good fortune to the bride.
The groom is required to prove his love for his future wife through answering a series of questions about her or even by offering money in red envelopes to buy his way into the house before picking her up for the ceremony.
In northern China, brides tend to wear red. In southern China, brides wear a two-piece outfit — a Qun Gua, Kwa or Cheongsam — with a gold phoenix or dragon detailing. On the wedding night, the bride is given a half-cooked dumpling: a signifier of family prosperity, as the word raw is linked to child birth.
Just like China, traditions will depend on which region in India you are from. It’s not uncommon for Indian weddings to take place over several days — different to the couple’s one special day in other countries.
Before the big day itself, brides will attend a Mehendi ceremony, where family and friends gather to apply the beautifully intricate henna. Traditionally, the deepness of the colour of the henna determines the bond between husband and wife and how well the bride will get along with her mum-in-law. Hidden within the henna are the names of the happy couple and it’s often painted on the palms, hands, forearms and legs.
In some regions, the women will wear a saree (long drape) for her wedding and in others she wears a lehenga (a long skirt). It’s common for the bride to be dressed in red or another bright colour and her clothing is stitched with a beautiful, intricate design.
Couples from India will also walk around fire. The marriage becomes official when the bride and groom walk around the fire four times as verses are chanted, and the couple is tied together. The husband and wife then race back to their seats, as the one who sits first is said to be the most dominant.
Unlike the above, a lot of German traditions happen before the wedding. For example, before a future bride-to-be is even engaged, she saves away pennies, which will then be used to purchase her wedding shoes. This tradition is said to help the happy couple get off on the right foot.
Don’t expect your invitation to come in the post either. The family will send out a Hochzeitslader, a gentleman dressed in formal, fancy wear complete with ribbons and flowers, to hand-deliver their invitations. Guests accept the invitations by pinning a ribbon from the Hochzeitslader’s outfit onto his hat, before inviting him into their home for a drink. Depending on the guest list, this can take quite some time!
A civil ceremony in a town registry office usually happens first then, in the days following, a church ceremony can be held – although this isn’t required. Generally, few guests will attend the civil ceremony and the bride and groom will dress relatively simply.
Polterabend will take place a few days after the civil ceremony. Believing that negative spirits are attracted to brides, Polterabend takes place to scare them away. The night before the church ceremony, the bride and groom gather with friends and family where they smash up china and porcelain. The noise made is said to scare away the spirits, while illustrating that their marriage will never break. Glass is never broken, as this is believed to be bad luck.
A lot of couples will saw logs on their wedding day in this country. A log is set up on a sawhorses and the bride and groom must work together to saw through it, illustrating their teamwork. Instead of confetti, wedding guests throw grains of rice over the bride and groom, with legend being that each grain of rice that lands in the bride’s hair symbolises a future child!
However, romance does blossom when the bride and groom dance beneath the veil. When the music stops, all the single women will tear pieces off the veil. The lady left with the biggest piece is said to be the next to marry. Alternatively, instead of ripping the veil, guests simply throw money into it while it is held up.
Spanish weddings don’t include bridesmaids, groomsmen, a maid of honour or best man, and the mother of the groom walks her son down the aisle. Likewise, there are no speeches and wedding rings are worn on the ring finger of the right hand.
In the past, the garments would be made from black lace although modern times have seen more brides wearing a white lace dress.
Weddings in Spain are known to begin in the early evening. Often, the groom will present his bride with 13 gold coins, each one has been blessed by a priest. This act is said to bring the couple good fortune and symbolise the groom’s commitment to support his bride.
The bride will give a small flower corsage to her girlfriends. If a lady is single, she must wear her corsage upside down and if she loses it during the night, it’s believed that she will be next to be married!
So these are just some of the most weird but most wonderful wedding traditions in the world. What makes them the same, however, is that they’re all a celebration of love and happiness and are special in their own ways. Will you take any inspiration from these traditions for your special day?