Every country and culture has its own customs for tying the knot. In the United States, traditions such as the bride walking down the aisle with her father, throwing the bouquet, exchanging rings, and wearing items old, new, borrowed, and blue are well practiced. But other countries and cultures have their own traditions—some are more unexpected than others. And as a traveler and true citizen of the world, you might want to get inspiration for your wedding from the traditions of your favorite international destinations.
Here are 10 customs past and present from cultures around the world that might peak your interest and provide some needed inspiration.
The color green was traditionally a symbol of luck and fertility in Italian weddings. Brides in the past would add green to their outfits the evening before their weddings. This would come in the form of a sash or a brooch during the rehearsal dinner.
Chinese couples have historically gone to fortune tellers to help them choose their wedding date. The bride and groom’s names and birthdays are taken into account. Astronomical activities are also analyzed. Dates likely to bring the couple lifelong happiness and prosperity are then chosen. Certain dates are seen as especially unlucky for some couples and others are considered universally lucky for all—depending on the year.
In Swedish weddings, the bride is not accompanied by her father as she walks down the aisle. Instead, the bride and groom walk arm in arm symbolizing their new journey together. The concept of being “given away” indicating ownership is not culturally acceptable.
In Japan, a sake ritual called San San Kudo is performed during the marriage ceremony. From stacked, shallow cups of sake, the bride and groom take three sips each followed by their parents for a total of nine sips. The number nine is seen as very lucky. And the participation of the wedding couple and their parents together make this practice symbolically binding.
Viewfinder Tip: Incorporate the customs of your favorite travel destinations into your wedding through food, music, attire, or ceremony traditions.
In Cuba, like for all of us, wedding ceremonies can be a real hit to the wallet. To help offset the costs, a money dance is performed during festivities. That is, the bride dances with the male guests present at the wedding as the men pin money to her dress. These offerings are seen as a thank you and as wedding gifts. Money dances of varying forms can be found throughout the world.
It is said that in certain parts of Nigerian culture a list of items drafted by the bride’s family is given to the groom prior to the wedding. If he cannot produce these gifts for the bride before the big day, he cannot be married. Items can sometimes be quite expensive or obscure. This can be a real test for the groom-to-be.
For German brides, preparations traditionally start early. By that I mean, at birth. It is said, when a baby girl is born, her family would plant the seeds of trees. And before her wedding day, the trees are sold to help pay for the celebrations.
8. Northern and Western India
In these regions of India, grooms traditionally arrive at their wedding venue on horseback surrounded by friends and family on foot singing, dancing, and playing music. It is a tradition known as Baraat, a symbol of manhood and freedom. If you or your fiancé is a horse-lover maybe arriving on horseback, or departing on horseback, is for you.
In France, the wedding cake is called a pièce montée or croquembouche. It is made from dozens of medium-sized cream puffs stacked into a tall and pointy pyramid and drizzled with liquid caramel. Yum.
In the Andean mountains of Peru, the colors and patterns of textiles and clothing are a sight to see. And there is no exception on wedding days when the bride and groom wear traditional garb with multicolored and patterned fabrics. These days modern Peruvian-inspired brides may opt for a white dress but pay homage to the culture by adding vibrantly colored embroidery to the skirt of their dress.
What are international wedding traditions that inspire you?