Wedding traditions vary across countries. Even in the same country, regional differences could be there on the basis of religious, cultural, ethnic and tribal affiliations. Just a brief glance at wedding traditions from across the world can surprise you about the diversity of the traditions, cultures and beliefs of people regarding weddings, although some common things are apparent.
Wedding Customs in Different Nations
Find out about some of the wonderful wedding traditions and customs in different countries of the world.
In the Hindu wedding, there are many remarkable wedding traditions and ceremonies with symbolism. These include:
Mangalphera – The bride and groom are supposed to walk around a holy matrimonial fire four times, in a clockwise direction – which represents the four aims in their lives:
- Dharma – Moral and religious duties
- Artha – Prosperity
- Kama – Earthly pleasures
- Moksha – Spiritual liberation and salvation
The walkarounds or Pheras are led by the bride, to show her determination to always stand by her husband first – whether in joy or sorrow.
Saptapardi – It is the next important ritual wherein the bride and the groom have to walk 7 steps together – to represent the start of their new journey of life together. Each step symbolises a marriage vow in the following order:
- Honor and respect for each other
- Sharing the sorrows and joys of each other
- Promising to be loyal and trustworthy to each other
- Cultivating appreciation for service, sacrifice, values and knowledge
- Making a reconfirmation of their vow of purity, family duties, love and spiritual growth
- Following the principles of righteousness or Dharma
- Nurturing an eternal bond of love and friendship
Sindhoor – It is actually a small red dot of vermilion that is applied by the groom to the forehead of the bride, between her two eyebrows, as his willingness to welcome her as his life partner.
The spot between the two eyebrows is regarded as a major nerve point in the body of humans, since ancient times. It is here that this ornamental mark is made.
This bindi or red dot is arguably the most visually remarkable decorative element on the body of married women. It is applied to a bride for the first time during the wedding ceremony only by the groom. This is actually an auspicious marriage symbol and serves as an assurance of the sanctity and social status of the institution of marriage.
Just like wedding events in any other culture and country, weddings in America are happy, festive occasions where the sacred bondage of life and love are witnessed by many people.Some of the American wedding traditions include bridal party, bridal shower, the veil of the bride, kissing the bride, the cake of the groom and the honeymoon, and most people know about these through literature, movies, TV shows etc focusing on the American way of life.
Traditional wedding ceremonies in Japan are generally performed in Chapels or Shrines. The bride-to-be – from head to toe, is painted in pure white colour, which is actually a declaration of her maiden status. She gets dressed in an ornamented headpiece and a white silk kimono, to invite good fortune for her.
Generally, a white hood is attached to the bridal kimono like a veil – to keep her protected from the “horns of jealousy” of the mother of the groom. A Black silk kimono is what Japanese grooms are dressed in. The wedding ceremony is either Buddhist or Shinto.
On the day of the wedding, the groom and his relatives and friends meet the bride at her home. With the parents of the bride, they travel together to the church in a car procession. Some of the cars used in the procession are decorated for celebration purposes.
They yell out of their car windows and honk their horns when their relatives and friends would be telling everyone about the wedding that is going to happen. Everybody they would come across on the road is supposed to outback good wishes, making friendly jokes and offering advice as to the group parades through the whole town. Then, the whole wedding assembly together enters the church upon arrival.
At the time of the reception, sisters and brothers of the groom and the bride who are unmarried perform a singular dance, dressed in ugly or elaborately colourful socks – with a special tune playing in the background. As the dancers move and hop around in an amusing fashion guests are supposed to throw money at them. They collect the money and give it to the groom and the bride – to help them begin their family. In the invitation sent out for the wedding the words “presentation only” can commonly be found. It indicates that the groom and the bride are requesting guests to bring money for them, rather than some other type of gift.
Egyptian Muslim Wedding
Even in the modern-day, many Egyptian weddings are still arranged marriages. However, in the more metropolitan regions, that has started to change.
The family of the suitor makes a proposal to the bride and when the two families are in agreement the suitor pays a sum amount of money to the family of the bride. This sum is referred to as the Mahr. It is used for buying jewellery (known as the Shabka) and furniture items. The suitor puts a wedding ring on the fiancée’s right ring finger, and she is generally supposed to be dressed in a blue or pink gown. The wedding ring is a traditional symbol of the immortality of the new and old worlds.
Right before the wedding, women assemble at the house of the bride for the “Henna Party’ where they sing and dance. On this occasion, the feet and hands of the bride are marked in mosaic Henna designs. On the next day, the contract of marriage is signed by the groom in the presence of the bride’s family and other witnesses. In another room, the bride waits for the contract to be presented to her, for her approval. During this ceremony, passages are read from the holy books Kitbah (formal betrothal) and Quran. The ceremony may be organized at the home of the bride or the groom, or in a hotel or a mosque.
The wedding party begins after the sun sets and the couple is dressed in the best apparel and jewellery. Then, the ring is shifted from the right hand to the left. The bride is pinched by Egyptian women on the day of her wedding to invite good luck for her.
After the wedding, the family of the bride traditionally does all the cooking for one whole week – to help the newlyweds relax.
In the Philippines, most Christian marriages are not arranged ones. A white wedding gown is put on by the bride along with a veil, whereas the traditional Filipino dress known as the Barong Tagalog is put on by the groom.
As the newlyweds walk out of the church, confetti and/or rice is showered on them.
Then, the couple has to release a pair of white doves – to represent a harmonious and peaceful marital bond between them. There are times when doves are released in the reception venue.
The couple has to perform a money dance/prosperity dance while their friends and relatives pin dollar / Peso on their apparel.
It is often that this is turned into a contest by the groom’s and bride’s families, where the invited families have to contest with each other to pin more money until the dance comes to an end. It is always that the newlyweds gain from this tradition because they can take all the money to start their new home.
Before the wedding day, a party is traditionally hosted by the families of the Dutch groom and bride. The couple has to sit on a throne under a Pine tree, as they are blessed by the guests with wishes of happiness and prosperity. For the Dutch people, the pine tree represents luck and fertility.
On the wedding day, a traditional white dress is put on by the bride along with gloves and a veil.
The groom has to wear an outfit that is inherited by him and passed on through a number of generations in his family.
As opposed to the Western world, in Denmark, the bride and her wedding party have to enter the church first. Only then, the groom and his parents can walk in.
During marriage celebration in Holland, two of the traditional food items that are served include:
- Bride’s tears, which is a spiced wine
- Bridal sugar, a type of sweetmeats
Once a Dutch wedding comes to an end, lilies of the valley are planted around the house by the newlyweds. This tradition represents the coming back of joy, and it is then that the couple can have celebrations and make a renewal of their love with every season of blossoming flowers.
Wedding Favor in different parts of the world
Wedding favours are the name given to small-sized gifts that are handed over by the groom and the bride to invited guests during a wedding reception, or at the wedding ceremony itself, as a gesture of gratitude or appreciation. This wedding traditions of handing over favours to guests dates back many centuries earlier in time.
These types of favours are actually diverse and generally complement the season or theme of the event. In some of the Western cultures, it is traditional for the guests at weddings and bridal showers to get party favours – which vary in terms of durability and cost, according to the budget and wishes of the hostess or host.
The United States and Canada
Wedding favours have actually become a part of the planning of wedding reception ceremonies – particularly in the U.S and Canada.
Classic favours can include scented soaps, candles, individual chocolates or sugared almonds. Some of the modern trends in this type of gift include a charitable donation in the name of guests, shot glasses containing coloured candy or CDs with the music of choice of the groom and bride. The favours can also be personalized with the names of the guests or the couple, the wedding date or initials.
Bonbonniere is supposed to be the first-ever wedding favour that was common among the aristocrats in Europe. This is nothing but a small-sized trinket box made of precious stones, porcelain and/or crystal.
These precious boxes generally contained delicate confections of sugar cubes – which represented royalty and wealth.
With time, as sugar became less expensive, almonds substituted bonbonnieres. For hundreds of years, almonds were distributed commonly to guests in wedding events – to represent good wishes on the new life of the bride and the groom.
It was soon that confetti got transformed into sugar almonds, which began in ancient Greece. It was during the 13th century that sugar-coated almonds, referred to as confetti, came into existence. The practice has been continuing ever since. The practice was inspired by the story of Demophon – the Athenian monarch, whose wife died and was reborn as an almond tree.
Later, this evolved into modern-day wedding favours.
According to tradition, five Jordan almonds are kept in a confection box (or these may also be wrapped in an elegant piece of fabric) to symbolize happiness, health, wealth, longevity and fertility.
The sweet coated candies and the bitter almonds together represent the bitter and sweet aspects of a marriage.
Although there are differences, wedding traditions from across the globe prove that humans are – at the end of the day – social beings who want to support each other towards betterment and success, particularly when it comes to developing a basic social unit – which is the family, which begins with the union of two people – husband and wife.
As can be understood, in many cultures, a wedding can be regarded as the union of two families and not only of two people. Irrespective of the wedding traditions that are performed, everybody showers blessings and wishes on the newlyweds – in their new journey towards fertility, prosperity and happiness. Through different customs, the bride and the groom assure continued fidelity, support and love to each other.