Today, more than ever, people are embracing their cultural roots and exploring their ancestry in great detail. Modern weddings often tie into a couple’s heritage, and many are choosing international customs and traditions to create a unique and meaningful ceremony. Others find ways to meld elements from both the bride’s and the groom’s ancestral ties. And for some, adding a specific tradition from other cultures has nothing to do with heritage. The couple may find that it is a unique way to symbolize their love and devotion to one another.
Wedding traditions in Indonesia vary from one region to another. One of the most beautiful is from Sundanese culture, a ceremony where the bride and groom receive blessings from relatives. The ceremony, sawer, is also a symbol of parental love for the couple. A juru sawer sings a poem focusing on spiritual values to educate the bride and groom. The couple then accepts colorful bags or a bowl containing candy, symbolizing the sweet parts of life, rice or grains for prosperity, turmeric for glory, and coins for material wealth, which the bride shares with the guests.
A long-held Norwegian tradition that a growing number of couples have revived is the Hardanger fiddle wedding procession. The Hardanger fiddle is Norway’s national instrument with deep roots in the culture. A fiddler, decked out in traditional bunad clothing, plays this beloved instrument while riding with the bridal party in horse-drawn carts. Upon arrival at the church, he continues to play, leading the wedding procession inside. Today, some couples follow a similar tradition but on foot, and there may be more than one fiddler who leads the couple and their guests to the wedding site.
When it comes to elegant and delicious international wedding traditions, few compare to the feast at a French nuptial celebration following the wedding ceremony. Dinner isn’t served until late in the evening, usually after 9 p.m., but guests can usually enjoy hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, and plenty of wine until then. The crowning glory of traditional French weddings, the croquembouche is a pyramid of delectable cream puffs that dates back to the 1700s. Its popularity continues today. The bigger the wedding, the taller the croquembouche.
The Woyo people from the Democratic Republic of Congo participate in a unique tradition. The mother of the bride gives her daughter a set of carved pot lids as a wedding gift, engraved with the illustrations from proverbs concerning married life. If the wife serves her husband a meal in a bowl and places a lid over it, the husband should pay special attention to the engraved lid. It designates an appropriate proverb that represents her displeasure with her husband.
The traditions in Armenia are often a mixture of both Pagan and Christian cultures. The couple breaks a plate during the wedding to keep bad omens away to protect the marriage bond. The groom’s mother then hands the couple lavash flatbread, which they must balance on their shoulders while eating spoons full of honey to ensure happiness.
Weddings are massive celebrations in Mexico, with explosions of colorful flowers and traditional symbols. When a bride walks down the aisle, she carries two bouquets. She keeps one but leaves the other behind in the church for the Virgin Mary. Couples also loop a lasso of rosary beads or orange blossoms around their necks as they exchange vows, a symbol of fertility and happiness.
Chinese weddings follow a multitude of traditions, so they can last an entire day. The Chinese tea ceremony is an honored tradition, a time for the bride and groom to show their respect and gratitude for their parents. A bridesmaid gives the teacups to the couple, who kneel and serve sweetened black tea from a red teapot decorated with the Double Happiness symbol. They first serve the groom’s parents, then the bride’s, then the other elders and married siblings in the family.
The Scottish people have traditionally followed a long list of good luck rituals and romantic customs for their wedding celebrations. Grooms who choose traditional wedding attire wear a sporran and a kilt on the special day. Brides in Aberdeenshire and Angus place a sixpence in their shoe, while those on the Scottish borders hide a sprig of white heather in their bouquets for good luck.
In the less populous, rural areas of Fiji, tradition dictates that a man must present his potential bride’s father with a sperm whale tooth, or tabua, before asking for her hand in marriage. Tabuas are highly prized by the Fijian people, and they exchange them during rituals and ceremonies. At points in Fijian history, the tribe members also offered the tabua as payment for a bride price, as an offering for war or peace, or in exchange for taking a life.
A wedding tradition observed in some parts of Greece calls for the groom to purchase the wedding shoes for his bride. The couple chooses a person to sponsor the marriage, the Koumbaro, who delivers the shoes to the bride on behalf of the groom as she’s getting ready for the wedding. The bride claims the shoes are too big, and the Koumbaro stuffs them with money to make them fit. Her unmarried bridesmaids then sign their names on the soles. When the wedding festivities come to an end, the bride checks the bottom of her shoes. The tradition states that any of the bridesmaids’ names that wore off will be married soon.