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 jumping of the broom, 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 stealing kisses from 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.
34) Romania : Hiding the bride.
In Romania, before the wedding, guests work together to playfully “abduct” the bride, whisking her away to an undisclosed location and demanding a “ransom” from the groom. Typical requests? A few bottles of alcohol, or—for those looking to really make the groom sweat—singing a love song in front of the entire party.
35) Scotland : Covering the Bride and Groom.
Scottish brides and grooms are captured by their friends the day before their ceremony and covered in everything from molasses and ash to flour and feathers before being paraded around town. The goal may seem to be ultimate humiliation, but the ritual stems from the practice of trying to ward off evil spirits.
36) Sweden : Stealing kisses.
37) Wales : Lovespoons
Back in the day, when a Welshman fell in love and was ready to commit, he carved spoons from wood, called “lovespoons,” and gave them to his beloved. Decorations included keys, signifying the key to his heart, and beads, symbolising the number of children he was hoping for.
38) India : Marrying a Tree First
If you’re a Hindu woman born during the astrological period when Mars and Saturn are both under the seventh house, you’re cursed; according to custom, if you marry, be prepared for early widowhood. Fortunately, there’s a remedy: Marry a tree first, then have it cut down to break the evil spell.
39) South Korea : Falaka Ceremony
As part of the “Falaka” ceremony in South Korea, the groom’s friends and family hold him down as they beat the bottoms of his feet with a stick or dried fish. In between beatings, he’s asked trivia questions, so the custom is said to help strengthen his memory and his feet.
40) Italy : La Serenata
The night before the wedding, an Italian groom may traditionally throw a surprise party outside his bride-to-be’s window. “La serenata” begins with the groom, backed by musicians, serenading his fiancée. Then, it turns into a full-blown bash, complete with a lavish buffet and all the couple’s friends and family.
41) Spain : Cutting the Tie
At some Spanish weddings, the groom’s friends will take scissors and chop up his tie, then sell the pieces to guests to raise more money for the newlyweds. The same practice is sometimes applied to the bride’s garter, as well. Anything for a few extra bucks!
42) Canada : Money Dance
At French-Canadian ceremonies, the couple’s older, unmarried siblings traditionally perform a dance, all wearing wacky, brightly coloured socks. As they dance, guests throw money at them which is then collected and presented to the newlyweds.