Special Wedding Customs And Gifts Around The World

 

At Custom Sky Jewelry we love custom wedding gifts. In this blogpost we take a look at special wedding customs around the world. If you have any remarks, please leave a comment below.

Albania - Separate parties

Albanian Wedding Even NumbersOne unusual thing about an Albanian wedding is that the dinner of the bride takes place on a Saturday and that of the groom on a Sunday. Only after Sunday's ceremony does the bride go to the house of the Groom. On Saturday they still sleep in separate houses. 

One of the other beliefs is that an odd number of guests should attend a ceremony. When you add the bride or the groom you'll get an even number, which tradition says will mean that this couple will stay together forever. 

Arabic - Announcement of the Wedding

Weddings usually include a wedding march or zaffa. It's a very ancient custom which possibly predates the Islam(*). During this wedding march the wedding is loudly announced and usually ends with a party and a dinner. The specific customs surrounding the zaffa differs for each region. In the Levant the dakbeh is popular for example.

Armenia - Shoes

In an Armenian wedding the brides shoes are somehow quiet important. When the groom arrives at the house of the bride he brings several baskets, including chocolate and...the brides shoes. When the bride has received these gifts she goes in her room and puts the wedding gown on. A close male family member of the bride puts her shoes on. He can have some fun by collecting a ransom from the grooms family before putting her shoes on. Another tradition is that the bride writes the names of all the unmarried women in the bridal party and her family on her shoes. When they get married, she'll cross out the name. 

wedding shoes armenia

Australia - Stones
Australia has lots of different wedding traditions. Some come from western culture but some have roots in Australias indigenous people. Two Australian traditions have to do with stones. In one of these ceremonies the bride and groom each throw a stone in a river to represent unity. The other tradition is called the Unity Bowl. Each of the wedding guests places a stone in a bowl when the ceremony ends. The bride and groom get to keep this bowl as a remembrance of the wedding and their beloved guests. 
unity bowl australia wedding custom

Bengali - Carried around

Bengali Hindu weddings, like most other weddings, are a mixture of traditions and modern influences. There are dozens of customs surrounding a Bengali wedding*. One of the most interesting ones is called 'Saat Paak'. At a certain point the bride is seated in a pidi (a wooden stool). While seated in this pidi she is carried around the groom 7 times by her brothers and other close male friends. While she is being carried around she has her eyes covered with a pair of leaves. Only when the carrying around is finished does she lift the leaves from her eyes and, a short while later, she can look the groom in the eyes. 

Brazil - Taming of the donkey

It's been said that a Brazilian groom has to prove his worthiness by taming a wild donkey. When he's successful he'll get permission to marry his bride. There's not much information on the internet about this tradition. Maybe it's a tradition that isn't being used that much anymore or a very regional one. 

donkey wedding brazil custom

Irish - Money for Luck

Ireland has lots of wedding traditions. Some of them are local and some of them have slowly disappeared in the last decades. One of these traditions was to give 'luck money' to the parents of the bride to bring good luck on their family. The amount give could vary, but pride was involved as well, so it could be quiet a lot.

irish wedding custom

China - Confucius

In China there are different wedding rituals to be found. Ancient, traditional and modern ones. The modern rituals have become more popular in recent years. In one of these rituals, in a so called Confucian wedding, the new couple pays respect and bow down to a large portrait of Confucius hanging in the room. 

Czechoslovakia - Pay for your Sins

After the church ceremony is finished friends of the groom will gather outside. They'll hold a rope in front of the church decorated with flowers but also empty bottles. The couple is not allowed to pass. First, the groom has to pay his way out. Symbolically the groom pays for the sins committed in his youth and starts afresh.

empty bottle wedding custom

Congo - Lost and Found

In Congo one of the customs is for the bride and groom to literally find each other. Usually the groom and bride are missing from the ceremony. The groom is mostly found first and then he has to search for his bride. After they've found each other they sit down together. Some speeches are made and the couple has to give each other a drink.

wedding custom congo

United Kingdom - Leap Day

This tradition is said to date back to the 5th century. St Bridget complained to St Patrick that women weren't allowed to propose to their men. It was decided that once every 4 years, on the 29th of February, women were allowed to ask their men to marry them. Tradition says the women have to wear breeches or a scarlet petticoat during the proposal. A 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland mention that the men has to pay a fine to the women when he says no: ranging from a kiss to a silk gown. 

Ethiopia  - You shall not enter
wedding custom ethiopia stop

At a certain moment the groom arrives at the house of the bride. When he arrives the friends and family of the bride go outside while singing a traditional song to let nobody in. The groom then has to plead and beg to be let in. Once he is let in he presents the bride some flowers which she accepts. Another hurdle is taken for the wedding to be competed.

Fiji - Spermwhales Tooth
spermwhale tooth fiji wedding

In Fiji Spermwhale teeth (or tabuas) are part of a formal engagement. A man presents multiple teeth to a woman who he wants to marry. The teeth accentuate the importance of the agreement made. Presenting multiple whales teeth also signifies the wealth of the giver. Maybe the more teeth are displayed when asking for an engagement, the happier the bride and family will be.

Finnish - Pillowcase

One of the regional traditional customs apparently was that the bride to be would walk around the neighbourhood holding a pillowcase. Friends, family and neighbours then could put presents in that pillowcase. There's very few sources to find for this custom so it might not be in fashion anymore. 

France - Croquembouche
A croquembouche is a typical French (and Italian) wedding custom. It's in essence a pile of small desserts stacked on top of each other. It usually consists of small pastries with different fillings. How long this custom has existed is unknown, the  Croquembouche is mentioned as early as 1815 in L'Art du Cuisinier.

Marquesas Islands - Human Carpet

marquesas island wedding custom

The Marquesas Islands consists of a group of 14 islands in French Polynesia. Traditional local weddings are ended with guests laying face down on the ground. They form a human carpet for the bride and groom to walk on. Let's hope the bride doesn't wear high heels.

Germany - Log Cutting
An ancient German wedding tradition, that is still practiced today, is for the bride and groom to saw a log in half. It represents the first obstacle to be overcome as well as the strength they both process. Cheered on by friends and family they each grab an end of a long saw to cut the log in two.
Germany - Polterabend
porcelain germany wedding tradition
Another wedding custom in Germany is called Polterabend. On the night before the wedding the wedding guests break porcelain to bring good luck to the bride and groom. This tradition even has its own saying: Scherben bringen Glück, or: shards bring luck in English. When this tradition came into existence is unknown, some think Germanic tribes were the first to begin such a tradition. Usually this polterabend takes place in front of the brides house. Guests are also known to bring flower pots, kitchen sinks or toilet bowls to increase the luck for the couple. The new couple is left to the clean the mess up. Polter means something like 'making loud noises'. Now you also know where the German name Poltergeist comes from: a ghost who makes loud noises. 

 

Greece - Shaved by Friends
scissors greece wedding custom
The best man or best friends of the groom (called koumbaros or koumbara) will shave him on the morning of the ceremony. This is done to show the trust they have in each other. Afterwards his friends will help him to get dressed. Meanwhile they enjoy some singing, dancing and food. Now let's hope that the best has some steady hands.
Guatemala - Marriage Advice
One of the nice customs in Guatemala is as follows. The groom has to get on a knee and listen to wedding advice from older members of the brides family. It's a great custom and be sure to closely listen to those that have a great marriage themselves. 

India - Stealing Shoes

India is a very old country where ancient customs still play an important role today. Lots and lots of wedding customs might get a bit boring, but sometimes some funny things can happen too. One of the most interesting wedding customs in India is the stealing of shoes; or Joota Chupai.

According to custom, when the groom enters the platform where the wedding takes place, he has to take of his shoes. As soon as he does the unmarried girls from the bride steal them. It's the grooms job to try and rescue his shoes which will be hidden somewhere, if his family doesn't find them back, the groom has to pay a ransom to get his shoes back. As he has to leave the platform with the same shoes as he entered it. It's usually a fun process and brings both families closer to each other. 

India - Mehndi

One of the other Indian wedding traditions is called Mehndi. It involves painting henna on the brides hand and feet. Even the groom gets some basic henna painted on him. The brides painting is much more complicated. It is said that the darker color of henna on the brides hands the more she will be loved by the groom. 

 Indonesia - Kidnapping

On and around the Indonesian island of Bali, kidnapping the bride to be has been a tradition for a long time. It's described to be a custom in two tribes in Indonesia. Generally, it happens with mutual consent. When a couple wants to get married the man kidnaps the woman from her parents house. The parents don't know about this. If they safely reached the house of the man they're allowed to get married

The exact reason for this custom is not clear. It might have been that it was cheaper to kidnap a bride, and after that, negotiate for a dowry. It has been said that this method wasn't without danger in the past. Apparently if the man got caught before reaching a safe house, the family of the girl were allowed to kill him.  

Iranian
The origin of some Iranian wedding traditions date back to the pre-islam period, back in a time when the zoroastrianism religion was practiced. This religion has its roots 2000 years before Christ and is possibly even older. One of these traditions is called the Sofreh Aghd. It essentially is a table which displays all kinds of symbolic items. For example a mirror, candles, certain herbs and spices, flatbread, eggs, honey and rose water. Each of these items has a certain meaning and in general blesses the future of the couple. 

Ireland - Touch the Floor

There are some wonderful wedding customs in Ireland. A lot of them, of course, have to do with luck. One of the interesting ones is that the bride can't take both feet of the floor while dancing. If she does the fairies will take her away. These fairies love pretty things and especially brides apparently. 

It's also bad luck to wear green at an Irish wedding. It's good luck if the sun shines on the bride, to hear a cuckoo or to count three magpies.

Israel - Money Gift
wedding gift israel money
In lots of cultures and countries it's hard to come up with a great wedding gift. Just giving money is seen as boring and unimaginative. Not so in most Israeli weddings. It's expected that you donate money for the wedding. The closer you are to the bride and groom, the more you're supposed to give. It is said that the bride and groom can actually make money from a wedding if the guests are generous enough. 

Italy - Confetti

The word confetti is the plural of the word confetto, which stands for a sugar coated almond. They usually come in different colors and from the outside look a bit like M&Ms. These sugar coated almonds are used in Italy to celebrate weddings.

These confetti form a part of a wedding gift for guests. This gift is usually placed in a bomboniere, and given to the guests after the wedding dinner has ended. They contain an uneven number of confetti (usually 3 or 5). Three confetti symbolise the bride, groom and their future child. If there are five almonds given they represent the five wishes for longevity, happiness, fertility, health and wealth.

 Jamaica - The Wedding Cakes
Somehow wedding cakes form an important tradition on Jamaica. Several cakes are made, usually Jamaican black rum cakes, and are carried to the wedding location. The carrying is done by married women in white dresses. This procession is done in silence. The cake itself is covered by white lace so the bride can't take a look at it until she's married. The cake contains several spices and dried fruit which have been soaking in rum since the day of the engagement.
After the cake is carried to the wedding locations the bride follows. Traditionally, people line up to loudly criticise the bride. If the feedback is mostly negative, she could go back and make herself more beautiful before she shows herself to the groom. Although these wedding customs aren't as strict as they used to be they're still fondly regarded, especially in local communities.
 

Japan - Sake Sharing

The sake sharing tradition or 'San San Kudo' is hundreds of years old. It translates as something like 'three three nine'. In this ritual there are three flat sake cups stacked upon each other. Both the bride and the groom take 3 sips from each of the sake cups. The sake cup represents heaven, earth and humankind. Odd numbers have a special meaning in Japan. Three is seen as a lucky number. So three times three must be even more lucky according to the Japanese. 

Japan - White dress

In a Japanese Shintô wedding the bride typically will wear a white kimono called a shiromuku. The color white signifies purity but is also symbolises the willingness to accept the ideals and standards of the groom and his family. Sometimes details of the dress are red. The grooms often dress up in suits or black kimonos. 

Kenya - Spitting on the Bride

maasai-wedding-custom-spitting

Yes, in the custom of the Maasai people it's custom to spit on the bride. Spitting is not seen as disrespectful though but as a sign of good luck. During the ceremony it's customary for the father of the bride to spit on the brides head and breast before she joins her husband. After the ceremony is over she leaves with her husband and traditionally does not look back, for fear of turning into stone. The Maasai use spitting more often in their culture, for example to bless a newborn baby.

Korea - Wedding Ducks

Korean Wedding duck custom

Traditionally, in a Korean wedding, the groom would buy a pair of live ducks or geese as a gift for the family of the bride. Later on this tradition changed in giving carved wooden ducks. Preferably Mandarin ducks. The process of choosing a good carver was and is a tradition of its own. The carver should have the following five fortunes in his live. As it was believed these would carry over to the newly weds. These are being wealthy and healthy, have a good wife, not having a divorce and having many sons. 

Mauritius - Eat, Eat and Eat

In most countries brides go on a diet before they're given away to the groom. Not so on Mauritius. Being obese is a sign of wealth in this country that has had its share of famines. In more recent years the government is trying to step in and educate people on this rather unhealthy custom.

Mexico - Two Bouquets of Flowers

2 bridal bouquets mexico tradition

For couples that have a catholic wedding and a ceremony in the church it is common to have two bridal bouquets. One of them is presented to the Virgin Mary when the ceremony is over. This is done in hopes of a blessed wedding. After the wedding a second bouquet is carried by the bride. Later on the evening this bridal bouquet is thrown backwards by the bride. The unmarried girl who catches the bouquet is believed to be the next one to marry.

The Netherlands - Chair Tossing
One of the wedding traditions in The Netherlands is mostly practiced in the rural parts of the country. After the wedding ceremony there's a big wedding party. This sometimes can involve hundreds of guests. During a certain part of the party the bride and the groom are each required to sit on a chair in the middle of the dance floor. They're then tossed in the air by a few of the guests while trying to hold on to their chairs. Meanwhile a song is being sung by the guest in essence wishing the newly weds a great marriage. Sometimes guests get a bit too enthusiastic and a chandelier or ceiling lamp is destroyed.
Nigeria - Wait in Line
In Nigeria there are lots of different tribes and cultures, each has their own specific customs and traditions. The Igbo tribe though has a very unusual tradition. The eldest son or daughter has to marry first, only then are the younger sons or daughters allowed to get married. Also in Nigeria the power of tradition is diminishing; not every son or daughter respects this marriage rule any more.
Denmark - Kransekake
In Norway and Denmark the Kransekake is a sort of wedding cake but is also eaten on other special occasions. The cake is made in lots of circle shaped layers that get smaller towards the top. The rings are cemented together with icing. This cake dates back to a bakery in Copenhagen in the 18th century. It's customary for the groom and bride to lift the top part of the cake. It is said that the amount of layers that sticks to the top layer is similar to the amount of children the newly weds will get.

 

Sweden - Rent a Bridal Crown

norway bridal crown tradition

Bridal crowns are a religious custom that are best preserved in Sweden. The first crowns of unmarried women were very simple; in essence a colourful headband with coloured ribbons. Later they became shaped in the form of crown and contained gold, silver and gemstones. Most of the crowns would be owned by the church and rented out to the brides. Some of the crowns were and are in private hands. 

Papua New Guinea - Wedding Pigs
papua new guinea wedding pig tradition

Papua New Guinea has a lot of different cultures. In a lot of villages it is custom though for the family of the groom to pay the brides family when she gets married. Traditionally this is done by giving pigs and shells, nowadays donating money is fine as well. 

During a ceremony the pigs are handed over to the brides family. Traditionally some of the pigs are immediately returned to the grooms family. One or two of the pigs are usually consumed during the wedding party.

Poland - Dance of Money
This Polish tradition takes place at the end of the wedding reception. Wedding guests form a circle around the bride and groom. When guests give money to one of the bridesmaids they are allowed to dance with the bride. Traditionally only close family members take the dance, but everyone willing can do so. The best part of this tradition is the end where the groom gives all the money he caries to the bridesmaids and steals the bride away. There's some negativity surrounding this tradition but the essence of this tradition is very respectful. Usually, the money that is collected, will pay for part of the honeymoon of the newly weds.
Romania - Ransoming the Bride
One of the most popular Romanian wedding traditions is ransoming the bride. During the party the bride is usually kidnapped by her best friends. Once she is kidnapped she first has to be found and then a price has to be paid by the groom or the godfather to get her back. It is said that this tradition comes from a time when brides were actually forced to get married but then were stolen away by the man she (hopefully)  actually loved. Now it's a great reminder to the groom that he has to take care of his wife. 

 Russia - Funny Ransom

This tradition obviously has more serious roots but it mainly is a very entertaining custom. When the groom arrives at the bride's home he has to pay a ransom to take the bride away from her family. The 'veiled bride' is then given to him, although this is not the real bride. It's someone dressed up as his bride; and, not unusually, it's a man. The groom then has to return to the bride's house and again has to ask for the bride. After paying a second satisfactory ransom he then can take with him the real bride.

Scotland - Blackening
The blackening is a ritual performed a few days or weeks before a marriage. This ritual is more common in the rural parts of Scotland like The Highlands and the Northern Isles. In essence the bride and groom are kidnapped by friends and family and made dirty with all kinds of substances being thrown at them. After this, or during this, they're paraded around for everyone to see. It is thought this ritual came into existence from a washing ritual where the groom and bride were washed clean before getting married. Though you can only get clean when you're dirty in the first place, which is where the blackening probably came in. 

 

South Africa - Fire 

carrying fire south africa wedding custom

In South Africa fire is a part of a wonderful tradition. The parents of the bride and the parents of the groom light a fire in their houses. They then both carry this fire to the house of the bride and groom and start a new fire there to celebrate the start of this new family. 

Sri Lankan - Consulting Horoscopes

A Sinhalese wedding in Sri Lanka is soaked in traditions and ceremonies. One important aspect is that a wedding should be given on the right date and that certain customs in the ceremony should start at a certain time. Therefore an astrologer is consulted who takes a look at the horoscope of the bride and the groom. According to the advise of this astrologer the wedding will be planned.

Thailand - Receive Blessings

A tradition is Thailand is to visit a Buddhist monk (or let the monks visit you) to bless you. A monk is invited to the home of the bride and groom. There they will chant, offer life lessons and bless the groom and bride. The family will feed the monks before they leave (more info here).

The Philippines - Arrhae
This custom is influenced by Spanish traditions. It's still practiced in Spain, The Philippines and some Latin American countries. In essence the groom gives the bride 13 coins to symbolise good fortune for 12 months and one additional coin for additional blessings. The 13 coins are also explained as representing Jesus and the twelve apostles. The Arrhae are also called 'Las arras' or 'Las arras matrimoniales'. It is usually presented in a nice looking basket or pouch. Before they're given to the bride the coins are blessed by a priest. The word arras means something like 'earnest money' or 'bride price'.

Venezuela - Running Away

One of the wedding traditions in Venezuela is the running away of the bride and the groom from the reception. When they escape without being noticed it is believed to bring good luck. It also helps to avoid saying your goodbyes and thank yous to all the guests.

When you notice the couple is gone as a wedding guest then you'll have your share of luck as well.  

Vietnamese - Red Envelope

It's a Vietnamese wedding custom to give money to the newly weds. This money is put inside a red envelope. It not only helps the couple to pay for the wedding, it is believed it also provides health and happiness. It is a tradition for the bride and groom to visit each table of guests and give their thanks to them. In turn the guests can give them their envelopes. Usually enough money is given to pay for the entire wedding.

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