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12 Wedding Traditions from Around the World

Many couples spend an incredible amount of time and effort to make their wedding different and as unique as possible, but pretty much every country and culture has its own beloved set of wedding customs that many couples are also keen to intertwine into their special day.


When you start planning your UK wedding, you’ll learn pretty quickly that the day is full of little wedding traditions and superstitions that link to our cultural heritage. From the white wedding dress to the wedding cake, there are so many wedding traditions that couples can choose to put their own spin on. But look a little further afield and you’ll find there are plenty of wonderful wedding traditions from all over the world to take inspiration from.


In this blog post, we’ve put together a list of 12 fascinating wedding traditions from around the world. Some of these wedding traditions will leave you puzzled and perplexed while others will certainly pull on the heart strings. Let’s get into it.


1.       England: something old, new, borrowed, blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe


You may have heard of the popular rhyme “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe”. Dating back to 19th century Lancashire, brides across the UK continue to include something from each of the categories in this Victorian rhyme in their wedding day as a playful lean towards the tradition. It can be a wonderful way to incorporate cherished people, objects and memories into your special day.


“Something old” refers to the bride’s connection with her family and “something new” symbolises her new life with the groom. To have “something borrowed” on your wedding day means that the bride has the good luck of a happily married friend or family member by wearing a piece of jewellery or other accessory and “something blue” symbolises love and fidelity. Finally, “a silver sixpence in her shoe” represents luck and prosperity in marriage, traditionally given to the bride by her father.





2.       Scotland: the Quaich ceremony


One tradition that is often performed in both traditional and modern Scottish weddings is the Quaich ceremony. The Quaich is a shallow, two-handled drinking cup, usually made of wood, pewter or silver and its design represents the hands of a couple coming together in partnership. It is a symbol of trust and unity, and a way for couples to pay homage to their Scottish heritage on their wedding day.


During the wedding ceremony, the Quaich, usually filled with whiskey or mead, is presented to the couple by a family member or close friend. The act is often performed in conjunction with the exchange of vows or as a separate ritual within the wedding ceremony. During the Quaich ceremony, the couple take turns holding the cup and sipping from it, symbolising their commitment to sharing the joys and challenges of life together.


3.       France: white ribbon cutting


In small French villages it used to be customary for the groom to ‘collect’ the bride prior to the wedding ceremony. As the bride, her father and musicians led the procession, children would stretch white ribbons across the road in front of the chapel entrance to block her path. The bride would have to cut the ribbons, thereby symbolising her ability to pass through any obstacles of married life and marking the beginning of the wedding festivities. Today, the ritual has evolved into the cutting of a heart in a white sheet for the bride and groom to go through together.


4.       Spain: unity coins


In Spanish Catholic weddings, the bride and groom share 13 coins known as arras or unity coins. The Spanish word arras translates to “earnest money”. During the ceremony, the groom pours 13 gold coins into the hands of the bride, to symbolise his commitment to provide for her financially, whilst pledging his love and support. Though the meaning of the coins varies from culture to culture, the 13 coins generally symbolise good fortune for the marriage ahead. In the Catholic religion, the number 13 is representative of Jesus and his twelve apostles.




5.       Germany: Polterabend


The Polterabend is a German wedding tradition that takes place in the evening before the wedding. Guests arrive with porcelain dishes and plates and smash them to ward off any evil spirits and bring the happy couple luck. The bride and groom then must clean up the broken pieces to demonstrate that they can work together. As the night goes on, guests can expect entertainment such as speeches, songs, sketches performed by friends and plenty of eating and drinking.


6.       Sweden: the bride and groom enter first


One Swedish wedding tradition that stands out is the wedding ceremony processional order. In Sweden, the bride and groom enter first and together, then the wedding party consisting of the groomsmen, bridesmaids and flower children enter behind the couple. This is common practice in Sweden as it is not considered liberal and contemporary to ‘give away’ your daughter as the woman should enter the marriage with free will, thereby the woman and man enter together.


7.       China: Chinese Tea Ceremony


A Chinese tea ceremony, known as cha dao, is a Chinese wedding tradition where the bride and groom honour their elders by serving them tea. Dating all the way back to the Tang dynasty in China (618 to 907 AD), the Chinese tea ceremony is a time-honoured tradition.


According to history, after a couple exchanged vows, they would serve tea to the groom’s family however, today, many couples choose to honour both partner’s families by hosting a tea ceremony for both sets of parents. The tradition of the Chinese tea ceremony is more than just to quench your thirst before the wedding though, it symbolises the union of two families and honours heritage.




8.      Greece: shaving the groom


Wedding traditions in Greece dictate that on a couple’s wedding day, the groom’s friends will help him get ready. On the morning of the wedding, it is customary for the best man or ‘Koumbaros’ to shave the groom as a sign of trust between the two. His close friends will also help him dress with one helping to tie his bow and another may helping him put his suit on.


9.       Mexico: Wedding Lasso


Unity ceremonies are typically incorporated into most wedding ceremonies. The wedding lasso tradition is one unity ceremony that is highly popular among Catholic Latinx and Filipino cultures. Traditionally performed after the exchange of vows, a lasso or rope is placed over the couple’s shoulders by either the officiant or the godparents and symbolises their everlasting union. Couples might choose to incorporate this tradition into their ceremony to honour their heritage and signify their commitment to each other in the eyes of their friends, family and God.



10.   India: Mehndi


Indian weddings involve a series of celebrations occurring before and after the couple becomes officially married.


Mehndi, also known as henna, is a part of the Indian wedding tradition which symbolises good luck, wealth and health to the bride as she starts her matrimonial journey. The mehndi ceremony is organised by the bride’s family and is usually held on the night preceding the wedding day involving all the female family and friends of both the bride and the groom’s family.


During the mehndi ceremony, henna is put on the hands and feet of the bride, where it is believed to cool the body’s nerve-endings while keeping the bride calm throughout the wedding day. Tradition also says that the deeper the colour of the bride’s mehndi, the happier the couple’s marriage will be.



11.   Morocco: 7 days of pre-wedding ceremonies


Moroccan wedding celebrations often last up to 7 days with pre-wedding ceremonies, preparation rituals and a massive wedding day feast. A traditional wedding will consist of several outfit changes, dances with the bride and groom, bursts of colour and lots of music. Another wedding tradition in Morocco is the ‘Hamman’ day and this marks the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the bride. Accompanied by her female friends and relatives, the bride-to-be will visit a traditional sauna called the Hamman to undergo a ritual of purification.


12.   Japan: the veil of purity


During a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony, the bride wears a white wedding kimono called “shiromuku” with a white headdress which symbolises purity. There are two types of headdresses for the bride and she can choose either one. One is called “wataboshi” and it was originally worn outdoors to keep away dust and prevent the cold. The wataboshi is now worn as the equivalent of the bridal veil in Western tradition. Another type of headdress is the “tsunokakushi” which literally means “to hide horns”. This idea comes from the folk belief that women grow horns when they get jealous so the tsunokakushi is intended to protect the bride from becoming a demon.


 

With so many wedding customs around the world, it’s interesting to learn how different cultures celebrate marrying the love of their life. At the Lawrence Hotel, we’re experts in weddings and have hosted thousands of successful events in our time. We have seen loved-up couples from all different faiths and cultures tie the knot and have witnessed some spectacular and beautiful wedding traditions. Get in touch with the team to find out more about weddings at the Lawrence Hotel.



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