Fun Facts: International Wedding Customs
Every culture has a special way of celebrating a wedding. Sometimes there are traditions specific to families, or parts of a certain country or religion.
A good way to practice your English is to ask someone from another culture about their wedding traditions. You might be surprised what you find out!
We learned about some fun, interesting and unique traditions from around the world. (Special thanks go to all the Kaplan International team members who shared their wedding traditions!)
China: In modern China, brides have 2 or 3 dresses for the wedding. For the ceremony, the bride will wear a big, puffy white gown, a trend that is common in Western weddings. Dinner time means the traditional qipao or cheongsam, an embroidered red dress. (Red is a lucky color in Chinese culture.) Finally, the bride may leave at some point to change into a cocktail dress of any color she desires.
At Scottish weddings, the groom wears the traditional clothing. He will wear the kilt of his clan, the kilt jacket, a sporran (a pouch, used like a pocket) and a sgian-dubh, or small knife. After saying their vows, the groom pins a strip of his clan’s tartan color to the bride’s dress. This symbolizes that she is now part of his clan.
Worldwide: In the symbolic language of jewels, a sapphire in a wedding ring means marital happiness.
In Peru, the wedding cake has an added bonus. Charms attached to ribbons are placed between wedding cake layers. At the hidden end of one ribbon is a fake wedding ring. The guest who ends up with it is said to be the next to get married!
New Zealand weddings sometimes include Maori wedding traditions, such as a warrior challenge. Often, a New Zealand wedding is conducted by a Maori tribal elder. At the end of the ceremony, the couple is blessed in the Maori language.
Germany: It is customary for the best man, or the bride's friends, to steal the bride from the reception, if they can get her away from the groom. They take her to a local pub, where they drink champagne (or beer) until the groom finds them. Once he does, he has to pay the bill.
Venezuela: The families of the bride and groom, or sometimes just the couple, exchange 13 gold coins to symbolize prosperity and good fortune. The coins are known as arras. This usually happens during the religious ceremony.
At Russian weddings, if anyone starts clinking their drinking glasses during the reception, everyone chimes in and begin to yell Gorka! Gorka! (Bitter!) and the couple has to kiss. This can happen many times during the party.
Lebanese weddings start with music, dancing and cheering outside of the groom's door. The group is called the zaffe, and is made up of friends, family, and sometimes professional musicians and dancers. They escort him to the bride's house and send the couple off with flower petals and well-wishes.
The last dance at Polish weddings is called the Bridal Dance. A friend or family member of the bride wears an apron, and the new bride dances with each of the guests. However, for each dance, the guest is expected to put some money in the apron. The father of the bride is usually the first, and the groom is last - and has to leave his whole wallet! After, he picks up his new bride and carries her away, ending the reception party.
After the Wedding
In Egypt, the bride's family traditionally does all the cooking for a week after the wedding.
In the Czech Republic, nuts, grains, figs and coins are thrown at the home of the newlyweds. Originally, this was an offering to the pagan gods of the home.
After an Indian wedding ceremony, the bride and her family go to their house. The groom's party follow in order to collect her. Before they can, however, they need to pay a toll. Once inside, the bride's family steals his shoes so he cannot leave without her. He has to pay to get his shoes back, if he can find them. Once he finally has his shoes, the whole party goes to the groom's house, where the couple plays games, such as fishing gold rings out of bowls of milk. (Whoever wins has the upper hand in their marriage!)