Back from vacation, feeling renewed… It involved some nation-hopping, and seeing a bride and groom getting a few wedding pix snapped in front of the Eiffel Tower led to a thought—how do couples in other countries get married??
There’s no shortage of answers on the internet, but we’re guessing you don’t have a lot of time these days to go surfing on the subject. So, we’ll sort through some customs for you – charming, weird, unwieldy and plain gross (cutting open baby chickens looking for a good-luck liver? Just, no.) Note: maybe there’s one here from your family’s country of origin that you’d like to revive!
Italy – A bride wears green to her rehearsal dinner for good luck.
Mexico – Three colored ribbons are sewn into a bride’s undergarment—yellow green and red. These are to symbolize food, money and passion during the married years.
Sweden – A bride doesn’t get a diamond, but 3 gold rings: one when she gets engaged, and two when she gets married – one for the marriage, one for pregnancy. (Shhh… no point letting your groom know that women exist who don’t expect a diamond! Unless of course, you’re a bride who really doesn’t care about a diamond.)
India and Morocco – A bride and her attendants will have a pre-wedding henna party, spending hours being decorated with elaborate tattoos that last about two weeks. An Indian bride is often so totally tattooed in this manner that no other jewelry is necessary.
Italy – Weddings, in addition to the wedding cake, feature a “Viennese Hour” – tables loaded with every kind of sweet imaginable. If there are desserts that Grandma or Auntie makes that are special to the bride and groom, include them! Some of the most delightful wedding food is homemade.
U.S. (Pennsylvania) – It’s a cookie table! Same idea. Sometimes cookies are considered more important than the wedding cake.
Russia – Newly-married Russian couples share a sort of bread decorated with wheat, for prosperity, and interlocking rings, for love. How sweet. But, carrying “cut the cake” one step further, they each bite into the bread without using their hands. Whoever takes the biggest bite will be the dominant partner. Hmm!
Several countries feature wedding cake with a special bottom layer—even a separate small cake—for the bride’s attendants. (This could also of course be featured at a pre-wedding party.) Ribbons extend from the cake, with a charm attached to each ribbon symbolizing this or that: friendship, love, etc. One ribbon has a fake wedding ring attached, and you guessed it… whoever gets that one is the next to get married. Interesting alternative to the bouquet toss? This custom has actually carried into parts of the U.S., where it’s known as “pulling the cake.”
Wales – A bride’s bouquet in Wales traditionally includes myrtle, which represents love. Cuts of the myrtle are given to bridesmaids for planting and growing more love. We can see variations on this one.
Germany – The country most obsessed with this seems to be Germany, where newly married couples are (or were?) given a large log and a saw. (OK, to be fair—it’s done in nearby Italy, too.) Sawing the log in half helps build teamwork… or something. Rather more appealing is the other way German weddings encourage partnership. At some point guests smash a lot of dinnerware, and the couple uses brooms to clean it up. Score some fun for your guests! Another, less costly custom we came across: bride and groom smash a vase, with the number of pieces signifying the number of years of marriage. Tension relief anyone?
China – And to the troublesome business of getting the bride’s family and the groom’s family to come together we offer China’s answer: the Shoe Fight! Walking down the aisle, the groom removes his shoes. The bride’s family steals them and the groom’s family tries to get them back. Playfully, of course. (By now you would definitely have your guests’ attention. Getting back to the wedding… not explained.)
India – At the conclusion of the wedding (or whenever you chose to do it) a garland is woven around the couple’s necks in a figure-eight, symbolizing unity. We can see that as charmingly worked into a First Dance.
This appears to have come and gone in the U.S. but It actually has its counterpart in several countries.
Cuba – In Cuba, money is pinned to the bride’s gown by every man who dances with her. Other places, the bride wears a satin bag around her neck for the same purpose—or carries it throughout the reception.
AND FINALLY, HONORABLE MENTION: To the country of Mauritius: where a bride is traditionally encouraged to put on weight. Something to do with packing on pounds being a sign of prosperity in the marriage. Works for us!