Wedding Traditions Around the World

All around the world couples are tying the knot and getting married in unique and diverse ways. What are treasured traditions in one culture, can seem foreign in another, as you can see from these wedding traditions from around the world!

In China, couples plan their reception around foods that bring blessings, such as lobsters, which are thought to be good luck. Although many modern Chinese brides wear white to be married, they often change into a second red dress for the reception, as red is a lucky color. Even the wedding day itself is chosen based on when astrology predicts to bring the most luck.

In Pakistan, brides enter Mayun, or seclusion, 8-15 days before the wedding to prepare and go through a series of beautification rituals. Several games are played with the couple before and during the wedding, including one where the groom’s shoes are stolen during the ceremony and returned when he pays a ransom.

Jewish brides circle their husbands seven times before entering the Chuppah, an open-sided covering built to represent the couple’s new household together. The couple ends the ceremony by breaking a glass as a reminder that life has sorrow as well as joy.

Traditional Indian brides host a Mehndi party where female friends and family help to decorate their hands and feet with intricately hand-drawn henna tattoos.

Irish brides are known to wear a horseshoe for good luck and incorporate the ringing of bells, thought to keep away evil spirits.

In West Africa, couples host a libation ceremony. Alcohol, which is thought to bridge the physical and spiritual worlds, is poured in each of the four cardinal directions to honor the dead. Family members then take turns offering toasts and drinking to dearly departed loved ones.

Russian grooms must pay a price for their brides, offering to bring gifts and perform silly tasks for the brides’ families before they will give the ladies up!

In Finland, both the bride and the groom wear an engagement ring, often a simple gold or white gold band. During the wedding ceremony, only the bride receives a wedding ring.

In Morocco, the bride and groom’s friends carry the happy couple on their shoulders or on a specially made cushion around the reception for all to see.

In Germany, family members shatter dishware on the couple’s doorstep for good luck the night before the wedding. The couple cleans up the mess together symbolizing their unity in tackling any challenge.

In Mauritania, girls must fatten up for their big day, eating huge amounts of calories to achieve the curvy figure that is the ideal. Even stretchmarks are seen as desirable in a culture where weight is a sign of affluence.

In Mexico, grooms present their new brides with an arras, or thirteen gold coins. The coins represent both Christ and the twelve apostles, and the groom’s provision for his family. The bride’s acceptance represents her taking responsibility for their household.

In Great Britain and America, brides have worn ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue’ since Victorian times. The something old represents the bride’s past life and family connection, while the something new represents the new life, family, and unfolding future. The something borrowed is a blessing from a happily married woman whose happiness is meant to rub off onto the new bride, and the color blue is thought to represent fidelity. In some cases, “and a silver sixpence in her shoe” is added for good luck and prosperity.