10 wedding traditions from around the world
If I were to ask you about wedding traditions, what would come to mind? Maybe you’d picture a bouquet toss, or a champagne toast, or breaking a glass after saying “I do.” Whatever you’re imagining, there are countless others from all over the worlds.
As a Junior Events Coordinator, these are the types of things that get me excited! I love learning about new wedding traditions and how people celebrate around the world, and thought you’d love learning about them, too!
Ready to take a trip around the world in 10 minutes or less? Grab your passport – we’re going global!
1. India's Kumbh Vivah
Astrology seems to be making a comeback these days, so for those of you who know your Rising, Moon, and Sun signs, this tradition is for you!
In India, if a bride happens to be born at a certain time of the year (when Mars and Saturn are both under the seventh house, to be specific) she is rumored to be cursed – especially when it comes to marriage. This is because in astrology, Mars is a soldier and Saturn is an army general. When they are both under the same house it is considered a war zone, which can cause conflict and tension.
In order to counteract this less-than-ideal climate, the bride is encouraged to first marry a tree before they are married to their significant other. That way, the curse falls upon their marriage with the tree and not their one true love.
If you had to marry a tree first, what kind of tree would you pick? Personally, I would pick a willow or cherry tree – who wouldn’t want to marry something as beautiful as one of those?
2. Newfoundland's screeching in
This next tradition hits a little closer to home, hailing from the ocean-soaked East Coast of Canada! If you’ve ever visited Newfoundland, you might have heard the term “screeching in.” This term refers to an age-old saying which instructs CFA’s (or “coming from aways,” if you will) to kiss a codfish, eat a piece of Newfoundland steak (aka baloney), and then wash it all down with a shot of screech rum.
While this has traditionally been the way that a bride or groom who’s not from Newfoundland is welcomed into a Newfoundland family, anyone who visits the East Coast province can participate. So pucker up, buttercup – there’s nothing fishy about this one!
3. Scotland's handfasting/hand tying
Most of you have heard the saying “tying the knot,” but have you ever learned where the phrase comes from? This familiar saying can be tied (pun intended) to a Scottish wedding tradition where the couple joins hands, creating an infinity symbol. Their hands or wrists are then bound together using a piece of cloth with their family crest or colours on it. Sometimes these pieces of cloth are passed down from generation to generation, and other times they’re as simple as a piece of rope or a scarf. Some couples have even used dog leashes!
Regardless of what is used for the tying, this tradition is used to symbolize the joining of two lives into one, and the couple’s commitment to love, cherish, and honour each other as long as their lives are entwined.
4. Peru's cake pull
I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite wedding traditions is the cake. Whether it’s vanilla, chocolate, or cheesecake, it’s one of the things I look forward to most when I’m helping coordinate a wedding. That’s why this next tradition is particularly interesting to me!
In Peru, couples often celebrate their nuptials with what’s known as a cake pull. In this wedding tradition, a cake is made with multiple layers that have long ribbons baked into it. While most of these ribbons are simply decorative, one has a fake wedding ring attached to the end of it. During the wedding reception, each unmarried woman or a group of women chosen by the bride will gather around the cake and each choose a ribbon. The group then each gently pulls on the end of their ribbon until the fake wedding ring is revealed. Similar to a traditional bouquet toss, whoever pulls out the wedding ring is rumoured to be the next to be married, making these wedding cakes that much sweeter.
5. Italy's breaking of a vase
You’d think you typically want to avoid breaking glass at a wedding, right? Not in Italy! After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom will break a glass vase and then count how many fragments the vase breaks into. This number is said to be the number of years of wedded bliss they have ahead. The more fragments, the better!
This wedding tradition makes me think of my grandparents and how long they’ve been married – almost 75 years! If you were to participate in this tradition, how many pieces would you be hoping for?
6. Mexico's wedding lasso
I know we’ve already talked about hand tying, but there's another culture that does something similar. A Mexican wedding lasso is an energetic wedding tradition which involves the couple saying their vows inside a lazo placed around them in the shape of a figure eight – the sign for eternity and a representation for how long the couple’s marriage hopes to last. Similar to the Scottish tradition, the lasso can be made out of rope, something passed down through the family, or even flowers! Many brides actually choose to make their lasso their “something borrowed” as a way of honouring their family history.
The couple is also welcome to use a rosary bead lasso for the ceremony as a symbol to God that they are connected to Him and each other forever.
The lasso is presented to the couple by los padrinos de lazo (otherwise known as “lasso grandparents”). These people don’t have to be the biological grandparents of the bride or groom, and are most often another married couple that the newlyweds look to as role models for a healthy marriage.
7. France's the dance of the brioche
This next wedding tradition is from France and involves bread, so it should come as no surprise that this is by far one of the most mouthwatering traditions on our list!
In France, a newlywed couple will offer their guests a large brioche bun on a platter. The brioche typically weighs around 20 lbs, and the newlyweds will have to hold it up over their heads as each guest dances around and under the brioche. This impressive feat of strength is meant to demonstrate the couple’s determination and commitment to each other in their relationship.
I don’t know about any of you, but I am definitely not strong enough for this tradition. That being said, it doesn’t stop it from sounding any less delicious – especially if guests get to enjoy the bread afterwards!
8. Greece's pig dance
Another equally delicious wedding tradition is the Macedonian pig dance. During the wedding reception, a group of men (typically those that are family or friends of the newlyweds) will enter carrying a roasted pig on a silver platter. The men who aren’t carrying the pig will be holding wine, knives, and forks. They will then go to each table and ask for payment, allowing the wedding guests to place cash (normally large bills) on the platter. This money then goes towards funding the cost of the wedding as a group gift for the couple.
Once the dance is over and every guest has had a chance to offer a gift, the pig is cut and offered to each of the godparents of the couple as a sign of respect.
After learning more about it, I’m glad I would never be selected to help with this particular wedding tradition. If I don’t think I can handle the brioche, I definitely don’t think I’m cut out to carry a pig!
9. Wales' myrtle in the bridal bouquet
For all of you brides out there who want to put a twist on a classic bouquet toss, this tradition is for you!
In this classic wedding tradition, the bridal bouquet will typically contain or be made entirely of myrtle – a symbol of love. At the end of the wedding night, the bride offers each of her bridesmaids a clipping of the myrtle to take home with her. The theory goes that if a bridesmaid plants the myrtle and it blooms she will be the next to marry (or at the very least that she’s got a great green thumb!).
The story goes that this tradition started with the Royal Family at Princess Victoria’s wedding. Since then, it has been the Queen’s favourite flower and continues to be something she cultivates in her own garden. Based on how long she was married, I’d say this tradition works!
10. Punjab's Jago
I thought we should end our list of wedding traditions from around the world on a high note, which is why our list is wrapped up with the jago. This Punjabi tradition is a lively dance that typically happens the day or night before the actual wedding itself because the word “jago” actually means “wake up” or stay awake. In this dance, all of the female family members of the newlyweds will come together and dance around in a circle with a gagger (a decorated earthen pot lit with candles) adorned with bells on their heads. All of the noise and merriment is meant to alert the town that something exciting is about to happen, and invites the community to join in as well.
There are some occasions where it will happen during the wedding reception (like with one of our lovely couples here at Cellar52) but more often than not, the jago serves as a way to get the party started!
Did any of these wedding traditions from around the world pique your interest? More importantly, did I miss any that are important to you? Let us know on Instagram @thestellaco – there’s always room for more on this list!