For the most part, wedding days are joyous occasions for the bride, groom and their friends and families. The way traditions related to this most special of occasions have developed around the world, however, differs greatly from one region to the next. Here are 10 unusual wedding traditions from around the world:
10. Wardrobe Change
A western marriage is all about a single dress, namely the bride’s wedding dress. That differs in China, because the bride has to pick out no less than three dresses for her big day. The first is the traditional qipao or cheongsam, which is an embroidered, slim-fitting frock that’s usually colored red. In Chinese culture, red is considered as lucky and a symbol of strength. The second is a white ball-gown, which is similar to the traditional western bridal dress and a nod to western trends. The third and final dress of a Chinese bride’s big night is an elegant evening gown in any color she chooses.
9. Painted Hands
It’s traditional for an Indian bride to receive intricate temporary tattoos, called mehndi, on her hands. These tattoos, which are created using a plant dye called henna, are also received by the bride’s female friends and family, and last a few weeks before fading away. The mehndi are incredibly intricate, often taking hours to apply despite covering such a small area of the body, plus a further few hours for them to dry.
8. Jumping the Broom
Numerous cultures from around are historically notable for a spot of broom-jumping during their wedding ceremonies, however the tradition is most often found in African-American wedding ceremonies. This particular tradition harks back to the days of slavery in the United States, when a marriage between an enslaved man and woman couldn’t be legally sanctioned. Before the Civil War broke out in the 1860s, enslaved men and women declared their unions by jumping over a broom together.
7. Mazel Tov
Country: Israel (Jewish tradition)
The origins of this tradition, which involves the groom crushing a glass underfoot at the end of a wedding ceremony, aren’t completely clear. Some believe that it symbolizes the destruction of the Great Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, while others say that it symbolizes the necessity for always ensuring that joy is curbed. Whatever its true origins are, the breaking of the glass takes place in the spirit of happiness. As the groom performs this tradition, the assembled wedding guests call out “mazel tov!” once they hear the glass shattering.
6. Baby Bridesmaids
Country: United Kingdom
The United Kingdom’s royal family do things a little differently – instead of the bride having bridesmaids that are her contemporaries, the bridesmaids in a British royal wedding tend to be much younger. Kate Middleton’s marriage to Prince William, for example, featured a bridesmaid who was just three years old at the time of the ceremony. Similarly, when Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married back in the 1980s, the ages of the five bridesmaids taking part in the wedding ranged from five to 17.
5. Cake Pull
Western marriages usually involved a bouquet being thrown to the assembled female guests by a bride at her wedding ceremony. This is said to determine who’s next in line for marriage, however Peruvians do things a little differently. What they do instead is place a series of charms inside the wedding cake itself. These are attached to ribbons. Female guests grab a ribbon apiece and pull. The woman who pulls the ribbon containing a fake wedding ring at the end is the woman who is is supposedly due to get married next.
4. Slaughtering a Cow
Country: South Africa and surrounding countries (Zulu tradition)
In what may appear a rather gruesome wedding tradition to outsiders, a Zulu groom’s family slaughters a cow to welcome the bride into their family. As a reciprocal gesture, the bride places money inside the cow’s stomach to symbolize that she is now part of it. On a more light-hearted note, Zulu weddings are permeated with vibrant colors and intense dance-offs between the bride and groom’s families.
3. Joyous Processional
The zaffe is a rowdy, traditional escort for the groom that consists of his friends and family. In some instances, professional dancers and musicians also take part. They make a racket outside his door with music, dancing and shouting before escorting him to the bride’s house. Once the bride and groom are united, the zaffe sends them off in a shower of shouted blessings and flower petals.
2. Ransom for the Bride
A Russian groom is made to work hard to be deemed deserving of his beloved. He is tasked with showing up to the bride’s home and asking for her. Gathered friends and family refuse his request until he has paid his dues in the form of gifts, money, jewelry or being humiliated to the point that he is deemed worthy of her hand. The shenanigans involve doing silly dances, answering riddles and performing goofy tests of worthiness, such as diapering a baby doll. The groom only gets to see the bride once her family and friends are satisfied with his vykup nevesty performance.
1. Ransom for the Shoes
A Pakistani groom actually has to pay to get his stolen shoes back on his wedding day. During the “showing of the face” ceremony, which takes place after a couple is married, family and friends hold a green shawl over the newlyweds’ heads, together with holding up a mirror allowing them to gaze at one another. While this is going on, the groom’s shoes are taken by the bride’s female relatives, who then demand money for them to be returned safely.
Content Source: LiveScience