Welcome back. Wedding traditions around the world prove there are many ways to say “I do.”
There are many fascinating wedding traditions around the world, from the bride tossing her bouquet to wearing something old, new, borrowed, and blue, British wedding customs are still so popular today that even the most non-traditional couples happily take part. (Why tempt fate and start off your new marriage with anything other than good luck vibes?) But Brits don’t have a monopoly on such rituals—pretty much every other country and culture also has its own beloved wedding customs.
Some are sweet, like how wedding guests in Sweden kiss the bride or groom anytime their new spouse leaves the room. Some are perplexing: Couples in the Congo, for example, are forbidden to smile on their wedding day. And some are seemingly strange, such as the way engaged pairs in Mongolia must kill and butcher a chicken to find a healthy liver before being allowed to wed. But what binds these seemingly disparate customs from near and far is one simple thing: love.
If you follow these traditions, the theory goes, you will find eternal joy with your soulmate. So, even if some Hindu brides must first marry a tree or some South Korean grooms have to tolerate getting their feet whipped by family and friends, hopefully, it’s all worth it in the end. When love and happiness ever after are the outcomes, it’s usually a win-win for the newly wedded couple.
Keep reading to learn about many of the most awe-inspiring rituals from around the globe to give you an idea of the many traditions that go far beyond the bouquet toss.
23) Turkey: Hanging Flags
Friends of the groom plant the Turkish flag, which features a red crescent and star, in the ground at his home on the day he is to wed. Depending on the area, objects like fruit, vegetables, and even mirrors are placed on top, signifying that the wedding ceremony has begun.
24) Venezuela: Couple Leaves Before the End of the Reception
Don’t wait until the reception’s over to chat up a Venezuelan couple—they could be long gone. It is good luck for the newlyweds to sneak away before the party has come to an end without getting caught; it’s also good luck for whichever guest catches on that they’re gone.
25) Wales: Myrtle in the Bridal Bouquet
Welsh brides think not only of themselves on their wedding day, but also of their bridal party. The
bridal bouquet includes myrtle, an herb that symbolizes love, and the bride gives a cutting to each of her bridesmaids. (Kate Middleton even included myrtle in her bouquet!) The theory goes that if a bridesmaid plants the myrtle cutting and it blooms, she’ll be the next bride.
26) Mongolia: Chicken Liver Tradition
A Mongolian couple hoping to set a wedding date must first kill a baby chicken and cut it apart, holding the knife together, to find a healthy liver. They keep at it until they’re successful.
27) China: Three Dresses
In China, brides typically walk down the aisle in a slim-fitting, embroidered dress, called a traditional qipao or cheongsam. For the reception, they typically change into a more decked-out gown with Western flair. But the bridal fashion show doesn’t end there. To cap the night, Chinese brides often make a final change into a cocktail dress. Triple the dresses, triple the fun!
28) Ireland: Keep One Foot on the Ground During First Dance
In Ireland, when the bride and groom are dancing, the bride must keep at least one foot on the floor at all times. Irish folklore states that if she doesn’t, evil fairies will come and sweep her away.
29) India: Mehndi
Right before the wedding, it’s common for Indian women to gather their closest girlfriends and sit for hours at a time to have their skin intricately painted, in tattoo fashion, with mehndi a type of paint made from henna. The elaborate and beautiful skin art lasts about two weeks.
30) French Polynesia: Newlyweds Step on Relatives
On the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, once the wedding has come to an end, the relatives of the bride lay side-by-side, face down on the ground, while the bride and groom walk over them like a human rug.
31) China: Crying Before Wedding
Brides of the Tujia people in China take tears of joy to a whole different level. Starting one month in advance, the bride starts to cry for one hour every day. Ten days into the waterworks, her mother joins the picture, and 10 days after that, her grandma does the same. By the end of the month, every female in the family is crying alongside the bride. The tradition is believed to be an expression of joy, as the women weep in different tones, reminiscent of a song.
32) Germany: Sawing a Log
After getting married, couples in Germany are presented with a large log and a saw. By sawing the log in half as a team, it is believed they are proving their ability to work together in overcoming tough obstacles.
33) Peru: Cake Pull
In Peruvian weddings, the cake is typically assembled with ribbons attached to charms, one of which is a fake wedding ring. During the reception, all the single women in attendance participate in the “cake pull.” Each participant grabs a ribbon, and the single lady who pulls out the fake wedding ring, per tradition, will be the next to get married.