My last article made me realize how much information is out there regarding wedding traditions in other cultures and countries. This has been a fascinating study and I now want to share more Traditions and Cultures that you might want to add to your wedding theme.
The Filipino Wedding
Unlike some other cultures, a Filipino wedding is traditionally paid for by the groom’s family and the grandparents are the sponsors. It is considered bad luck for the bride to try on her gown before the wedding or to wear pearls which are considered to be a bad omen. Also, the bride’s gown is custom made and both the bride and groom wear white. The groom wears a white t-shirt under a sheer long-sleeve button-up shirt that is un-tucked over black pants.
The groom gives his bride 13 gold pieces, pledging his faithfulness to her and promising well-being of their children. The coins and ring are carried by two separate bearers. A white cord is draped around the bride and groom’s shoulders as a bond of a never-ending marriage. Veils are draped on the bride’s head and the groom’s shoulders symbolizing two people clothed as one.
The couple will light two separate candles as a symbol of unity. The bride and groom will each hold one candle which represents the joining of two families and invokes the light of Christ.
The bouquet is not thrown as in other cultures, instead, the bride will give it to a chosen saint, the Virgin Mary, or place it on the grave of a loved one.
The groom should arrive before the bride or it will lead to bad luck. When rice is thrown at the newlyweds, it represents rain and raindrops are considered lucky because they bring prosperity and happiness. Sharp objects such as knives are not good gifts for the couple because they will cause a broken marriage.
The Czech Republican Wedding
The bridesmaids make a wreath out of rosemary for the bride which symbolizes a wish for wisdom, loyalty, and love. The tradition of wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue is a must in a Czech Republic wedding. The only difference, is the something borrowed must belong to a friend who is married and the something old must be a family heirloom.
The throwing of rice is ensuring fertility and after the ceremony, friends of the groom will hang a rope decorated with flowers, ribbons and empty bottles. In order for the groom to pass through the rope, he must pay his friends and pay himself out of the sins of his youth.
In order for the reception to begin, a guest must break a plate at the feet of the bride and groom. The bride and groom will then sweep up the broken pieces together to show they are willing to work together and this will ensure happiness. Another symbol that the couple will work together, during the dinner they will share soup with one spoon.
Halfway through the party, the groomsmen will kidnap the bride. The groom will have a set period of time to find her, if he fails, he must pay his friends to get her back. This symbolizes his promise to take care of her and protect her. After the Czech wedding song, as the reception winds down, the bride’s veil and groom’s shoes are carried around by the best man and maid of honor. Guests will place money in them for the honeymoon.
The Dutch Wedding
If the bride’s father disapproved of her future husband, he would not give her a dowry. Hence, the bridal shower was created by the bride’s friends who would give her gifts of the same kind of household items that she would have received with a dowry. If the family approves of her future husband, she would receive her dowry from her family and her future father-in-law would give her a “chatelaine” which consisted of a rope or chain made from silver or leather containing various items such as scissors, a mirror, a small knife, a pincushion, and needle case.
Before the wedding, the bridesmaids would place green garlands and flowers in the bride’s basket. They would also decorate the groom’s pipe with garland and ribbons. The bride’s house would be painted green and the families would host a party. The bride and groom would sit on a throne under pine trees and guests would come by to bless and wish them happiness.
During the wedding, the bride and groom walk to the altar on a bed of flowers. When they leave, flowers are tossed at them as well.
There is a Dutch custom you might want to add to your wedding day. It’s so unique and such a wonderful custom. Instead of a guest book, create a wedding “Wish Tree”. During the reception, a beautiful tree branch is placed next to the bride and groom’s table. Paper leaves are attached to pieces of colorful ribbon and given to each guest. The guests write their wishes on their leaves and then the bride and groom will read the leaves and place them on the tree.
During the reception, items would be served including sweetmeats called bridal sugar, and spiced wine which was called the bride’s tears. Instead of tossing a bouquet, the bride would give out her crown, whoever got it would be the next to wed. After the wedding, the newlyweds would plant lilies of the valley around the home to symbolize the return of happiness and with each passing season, their love would be renewed.
The Japanese Wedding
There is a Japanese ritual called “San-san-kudo” which is a three by three exchange that holds significant meaning. The participants include the bride, groom, and their parents. Each person must take 3 sips of sake from each of the 3 cups. The first three represent the bride, groom, and their parents. The second three represent the three human flaws of hatred, passion, and ignorance. The word Kudo means “Ku” = 9 which is a lucky number in Japanese culture. “do” means deliverance from the 3 flaws.
The bride wears two dresses, the Shiro is a white kimono that is worn during the wedding and the Uchi-Kake kimono which is worn during the reception and is made of a patterned brocade. Her hair is worn in a bun with colorful kanzashi accessories and a white wedding hook called a tsuno kakcushi which is worn to hide the two front golden tsuno horns and symbolizes obedience.
The bride carries a tiny purse called a hakoseko, a small encased sword called a kaiken, and a fan that is placed on the obi belt representing happiness and a happy future.
The wedding also includes a 21 beaded rosary the stands for the couple along with their families and for Buddha. All are joined on one string symbolizing the union of the families. The ceremony honors the parents of the bride and groom by giving them flowers, a letter expressing their love and appreciation and then toasting them.
In Japanese culture, the crane stands for prosperity and long-life. Golden origami cranes are created to bring peace, good fortune, long-life, and fidelity to the couple’s marriage.
Food served at the reception all have special meanings. If lobster is served, red is the color of luck, if clams are served with both shells this symbolizes the couple’s union. There are many courses served but never in groups of four because four sounds like the word for death.
The Korean Wedding
The bride must take part in a traditional introduction ceremony to be accepted into the groom’s family and this takes place before the wedding.
Animals are perfect symbols of fidelity, are highly regarded, and play important roles in the wedding. Cranes represent long life and are usually in the bride’s sash. Ducks and geese are known to mate for life and in past years, the groom would give his mother-in-law a goose to represent his fidelity. Now, the goose is replaced with one made of wood.
The bride wears two dresses which are believed to be from the noble class. A light green wonsam and an elaborate hwarrot or flower robe. She wears a traditional robe underneath. She wears a black gem-studded cap and white socks with embroidered shoes. Her makeup is quite simple with three red circles the size of a nickel to ward off evil spirits.
The groom wears the dress of nobility that is made from dark green damask with embroidered favorable symbols in gold. He also wears a tall black headdress made from silk.
The wedding is performed in front of a table while sharing a special white wine known as jung jon. It is poured from cups made from two halves of a gourd and made by the mother of the bride. The bride and groom sip from their own cup, mix the wind, then pour it out and sip again as a wedding vow.
There is another ceremony that is only attended by close family members. The bride offers her new in-laws dried dates and jujubes that symbolize children. In turn, they offer the bride tea and at the end of the ceremony, they throw dates and chestnuts her way while she tries to catch them with her skirt.
There is a noodle banquet called kook soo san where sake is taken in shots while eating noodle soup in order to wish the couple a long and happy life.
The Spanish & Latin American Wedding
The groom, like in many cultures, is not allowed to see his bride before the wedding and it’s her father’s job to keep her hidden and he also gives her away. The groom escorts his mother down the aisle like they do in France.
The night before the wedding, hand lanterns were used to light the way from the groom’s home to the bride’s. The family of the groom will bring a chest with gifts for the bride’s family.
The flower girl and ring bearer are dress like the bride and groom on a smaller scale. One important part of the ceremony is the gold coins which are called arras. There are 13 coins that represent Jesus and his 12 apostles. The coins are blessed by the priest and then given to the bride with the groom promising to take care of and support his wife.
The wedding is paid for by the godparents or sponsors who also are involved in different parts of the ceremony. They are responsible for carrying the arras or the rope into the church. The rope or rosary is placed over the bride and groom to protect their union.
Someone carries the bride’s bouquet while she carries the rosary and the bible. Orange blossoms symbolize happiness and fulfillment and are seen in the bouquets and decorations. These flowers are also placed in the bride’s hair.
The mantilla veil is often used and the brides wear black silk dresses symbolizing devotion until death. In recent years, Spanish brides have chosen to wear white instead. Both in Spanish and Latin American cultures, the bride and groom wear their wedding rings on their right hand.
During the reception, lively mariachi bands, salsa music or Spanish guitarists bring a great deal of fun to the party. During the first dance, guests form a heart-shape around the newlyweds and cheer them on.
Single women at the reception are expected to wear special pins upside down. Should a pin become lost, that woman is the next one to get married. Wedding favors for men are usually cigars and wedding cookies. Also, there might be fans or some local goods such as pottery.
The most popular meal in the reception is paella or some other seafood along with sangria. In Mexico, the foods would include spicy rice beans and steak with a spicy tomatillo sauce. Also, it is quite common to see almond cookies along with the wedding cake.
The Scottish Wedding
During the engagement period, brooches called Luckenbooth are given as tokens of love and are made from silver and engraved with two intertwining hearts. It is also said that if they pin the brooch to their first-born’s blanket it will bring the family luck.
When the bridal shower ends, the bride is dressed in trains of old curtains or some tasteless costume and must carry a small plastic potty with salt in the bottom. She is brought into town where women create low noises banging pots and pans to welcome the bride’s status. The bride will exchange kisses for money that is dropped in the potty. It is said this will bring good luck, fertility, and prosperity.
The groom’s stag party consists of his being dressed up and taken around town and being totally ridiculed. Sometimes he is dressed up like a pregnant woman and is the center of practical jokes from his groomsmen. His groomsmen also help him celebrate by drinking way too much. At the end of the evening, the groom is left on the street in front of his home, stripped of his clothes and tied up!
Another tradition is washing the bride’s feet. Her female friends wash her feet in a tub where a happily married woman and placed her wedding ring. Whoever finds the ring is the next one to get married.
The day of the wedding, the bridal party would make their way to the church while sprinkling flower petals along the way. If they encountered a pig or a funeral, it was considered bad luck and they would have to go back and start all over again. During the mass, the clergyman would bless the food brought by the guests and kiss the bride.
Bagpipes are a strong part of Scottish culture and are often played during the wedding. The groom usually wears a traditional kilt, kilt jacket, and a sporran in his clans’ colors. A sporran is a part of the male Highland dress. It is a pouch made from leather or fur, hangs in the front of the kilt and serves as a pocket. The couple’s wrists are bound together with a string or cloth.
At the end of the wedding, the groom places a sash in his clan’s colors on his bride, welcoming her into the family. He gives his bride an engraved teaspoon making sure his bride will never go without food. He also gives her a family sword that will be given to their first-born son or the bride’s family might offer the groom their sword as an acceptance into their family.
When the bride walked out of the church, a child would hand her a horseshoe for good luck. The bride and groom would scatter coins for the children to collect and kindness would be returned to them throughout their marriage.
The Swedish Wedding
There is an old custom where the bride would carry coins in her shoes. There would be one silver coin in her left shoe from her father and one gold coin in her right shoe from her mother. This would ensure that she will never go without.
Traditionally, the bride would wear three bands, one for her engagement, one for her marriage, and a third for motherhood. She would also wear a tiara that stood for her virginity. In the past, these tiaras were actually crowns made from myrtle leaves. The bride’s bouquet was made from very strong scented flowers to ward off trolls and other evil creatures.
During the wedding, the bride and groom enter the church together and who would be the head of the household would depend on who stepped over the threshold first and yelling “I Do” the loudest!
During the reception, should the groom leave the room other men may kiss the bride and she may kiss them back. Also, anyone who wishes to make a speech is allowed to at any time. That said, traditionally the father of the bride and the father of the groom were to make the first speeches.
The meal was usually a smorgasbord which is a combination of different foods and fish was served before meat. Hot foods were served before cold foods and drinks and singing would follow.
In the region of Skane, after the meal, a cake called a spet te kaka, or split cake would be served. The cake is made by drizzling batter over a spit to create a lacy two or three foot confection.
The Italian Wedding
When the groom was proposing marriage, he would serenade her and then give her a diamond ring. It was believed that diamonds were created by the fires of love.
On the way to the church, the bride and groom would run into obstacles including crying babies, a fallen broom or other chores to test their skills at marriage. In Northern Italy, the groom brings the bride a bouquet that he has chosen the color and style of the flowers for.
A Sunday wedding is considered the luckiest day to be married and if the bride wears green the night before, it will bring luck and abundance to the couple. On the other hand, if she wears gold on the night before or on the day of the wedding, there will be bad luck. It is suggested that in order to ward off the evil-eye, the groom should carry a piece of iron called toc ferro.
During the reception, the men are supposed to kiss the bride to make the groom jealous and bring good luck. Strong drinks are serviced to start off the party and toast the couple. “Hurray for the newlyweds” or Evviva gli sposi is often shouted when things become too quiet. Or, “kiss the bride” telling the couple to kiss and show their affection for each other.
No Italian reception would be complete without dancing the tarantella which means the dance of the spider. The movements are light and quick along with many hand gestures. The bride carries a satin pouch where guests may give envelopes of money and an opportunity to dance with her.
One of the oldest traditions is offering candy-coated Jordan almonds. This symbolizes the bittersweet nature of marriage. These treats are wrapped in tulle or in pretty pouches with 5 or 7 almonds. Five and Seven are considered the luckiest numbers.
The food is probably the highlight as guests are served up to 14 different courses and the cake is served with espresso. It’s suggested, the groom come to the reception in a cheap tie as his groomsmen will cut the tie into pieces and sell off in order to pay the band. During the reception, there could be many tricks played on the couple like walling up the door to their new home.
At the end of the wedding day, the bride and groom will break a vase or a glass and the number of pieces were supposed to represent how many years they would be happily married. When all is said and done, the bride was expected to bake cakes or other baked goods to thank her guests for attending.
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Jack Robertson is a writer and enthusiast of all things to do with weddings and planning to tie the knot. He works for and loves promoting Le Petite Chateau, a rather quirky wedding venue in the North East UK.