21 Wedding Traditions Around the Globe

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Bride and groom on beach
We’ve rounded up some of the most interesting wedding customs, from holding the groom’s shoes ransom to popping the question with whale teeth

1. In Germany wedding guests smash porcelain dishes and the bride and groom tidy them up. The smashing wards off evil spirits and the clearing up supposedly proves the couple can handle challenges together.

2. In the Philippines the newlyweds release two white doves at the end of the ceremony for a loving and successful marriage.

3. The mothers of grooms in Guatemala break white ceramic bells filled with grains when the new couple arrive at the church for a successful relationship. 

4. Across the water in Ireland, they ring bells after reciting the rows to ward off evil spirits.

5. Traditionally in a Korean wedding the bride’s mother-in-law throws wooden ducks or geese. If the bride catches the duck, her first child will be a boy and if she misses, it’s thought she will have a girl.

6. Venezuelan newlyweds sneak out from the wedding reception. It’s good luck to escape without being caught and good luck to any guests that realise they’ve gone.

7. In Greece it’s tradition that the best man shaves the groom’s face and other friends help dress him.

8. Italian guests receive sugar-coated almonds and use them as confetti – ouch. It’s a tradition dating back to Roman times that represents health and happiness. 

9. Some African-American couples jump over a broom at the end of the ceremony. Whoever jumps the highest is thought to be the decision-maker in the household – thank the Lord for high heels.

10. The Japanese bring together the two families through drink. The couple and their parents take three sips from three sake cups to help them break the ice.

11. In Jewish weddings a goblet made especially for the big day is broken, usuallly by foot and by the husband. There are several interpretations of this tradition but many believe it’s an effective way to scare off demons.

12. In Peru the wedding cake has ribbons leading out of it that are tied to charms in the middle – one of which is a ring. It’s thought that if a single woman is served the slice with the ring she’ll be the next to get hitched.

13. No one really knows where the Indian tradition of the eldest unmarried girls from the bride’s family holding the groom’s shoes ransom came from, but it’s fun and bonds the two families.

14. Spanish brides and grooms exchange 13 unity coins with each other as a symbol of the wealth and prosperity they will eventually share (although in the past the groom gave them to the bride).

15. In Norway you’ll find the brides wearing a silver and gold crown with metal charms dangling from it; the clinking is supposed to protect her from evil.

16. As we all know, in the UK the bride throws her bouquet backwards into a crowd of unmarried women. Whoever catches it is supposed to be the next to say ‘I do’.

17. In Kenya the father of the bride spits on her head and chest. Although it brings good luck it doesn’t sound like the most pleasant way to start proceedings.

18. Chinese brides wear red veils and have a red umbrella held over their heads. The colour is associated with luck, love, boldness and wealth so it plays a big part in the wedding.

19. Down under in Australia every member of the family is given different coloured stones which are then added to a bowl to be displayed in the newlyweds’ house. It represents how the family has coloured the couple’s life.

20. In Fiji things get fishy when popping the question: the man presents whale teeth to either the bride or her father. It’s a traditional gift that was often used in past negotiations between rival chiefs.

21. In Pakistan the groom wears a sehra (form of headdress) that’s usually got a veil made of flowers or beads, which is believed to protect him from the evil eye.

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Published in: May 2017

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