From face painting to dress trashing, day-long ceremonies, and super-short ones, we all have our own way of celebrating weddings. The melting pot that is the US has its own unique twists, borrowing from customs of their heritage, but what are weddings like across the globe? Here are some unusual and beautiful wedding traditions from around the world that you may not know about.
Poland: shot, shot, shot
If there is one thing that Poland is well-known for, it is great vodka. So it’s no surprise that a shot of it is involved in the wedding ceremony. The newly married couple are offered two shots – one of water, one of vodka. They both drink, and whoever discovers they have the vodka is the leader of the relationship. Na zdrowie!
India: illustrated woman
Where in America brides sit for hours getting their hair and make-up just right, the beauty of an Indian bride is her skin. Mehndi or henna is applied in intricate and beautiful patterns all over her skin. She can sit for many hours with friends and family delicately applying this to her body.
Photo credit: McCain Photography
Venezuela: catch me if you can.
Good luck comes to the married couple that can sneak away at the end of the party without being seen. Good luck also comes to any guest able to catch them in the act.
Norway: bready heaven
Norwegian wedding cakes are a carb-lover’s dream. Made of bread and decorated with cheese, Brudlaupskling stems a time when white flour was something of a rarity. Often stacked in a tower and covered with flags, it is a proud wedding tradition for most Norwegians.
Photo credit: Nakai Photography
Germany: like a log
Symbolic of teamwork and a strong, healthy relationship, a German bride and groom will undertake the sawing of a log together on their wedding day. At the dinner party the night before the wedding, they also smash plates and dishes together for good luck and strength.
Before a wedding in Fiji, the onus is on the groom-to-be to present his father-in-law with a present to prove his loyalty and esteem. Not just any present, of course, but a whale’s tooth!
Photo credit: Chloe Jackman Photography
Kenya: spitting double
It may sound strange, but in Kenya it is considered good luck for the father of the bride to spit on his daughter. This is an act of blessing to prevent tempting fate; the bride must then walk away and never look back for fear of turning to stone.
Pakistan: game of ransom
Weddings in Pakistan are rich in tradition, color, faith, and vibrancy. One particular quirk of Pakistani wedding tradition, however, is a fun game of ransom. Involving female relations and friends of the bride in her bridal party, the groom’s shoes are taken and held ransom until he finds the perpetrators and pays to get them back! This requires the groom to be prepared with plenty of money on him for the wedding day.
Photo credit: Haring Photography
South Africa: tying the knot
At the end of the ceremony in South Africa, the newlyweds have their hands bound together with grass or soft cloth as a symbol of their new bond. The most literal way of tying the knot we can think of!
Photo credit: Ruth Madeleine
Scotland: blackening of the bride
A fun tradition in the run-up to the wedding in Scotland is called ‘blackening of the bride’. Involving both bride and groom being captured and covered and anything from molasses to flour and anything that will stick, they are then paraded around town. Messy, noisy, and loads of fun!
Photo banner credit: Desi Photographer