Alternative Wedding Traditions
Wedding

Alternative Wedding Traditions from Around the World

When you hear the word “wedding”, it’s likely you imagine “traditions” following it. Yes, the concept of marriage brings about a lot of historical rituals to ensure a happy life together, but since love is such a universal concept, there are a lot of ways to step out of tradition just a bit and still spread as much positive energy on your big day as possible. 

If you are interested in the various traditions seen around the world, read on for our guide on how you can incorporate them into your wedding.

European

There are so many vastly different cultures crammed into Europe, that it’s easy to find a different experience in each country. These can range from fundamental changes to the ceremony, to little touches to add unique charm. For example, Norwegian brides wear an ornate gold or silver crown that has tiny charms dangling from it, dispelling evil spirits as the it tinkles with the bride’s movements. 

The Greek like to play things risky, and apparently put a lot of trust in their friends. A Greek groomsman will allow his best man to play barber and shave his face the morning of the wedding. The event is made up for by the groom’s new mother-in-law feeding him almonds and honey. 

If you aim to have kids as soon as possible, you might want to look into the traditions of the Czech Republic. Before the vows, the nearest baby is placed on the couple’s bed as a spiritual means of enhancing their fertility. And to add to the spell, the couple are showered with rice, peas, and lentils after they have wed, which are all symbols of fertility. 

If you watched Say Anything and the boombox outside the window stuck with you, you’ll love Italian traditions. Usually, the night before the wedding is punctuated with a serenade outside the bride’s window the night before the wedding, backed by musicians, which turns into an event in itself, complete with a buffet and friends and family members appearing. 

India

Indian weddings are known to be vastly different from Western weddings at the best of times. They feature a lot of color where we tend to stick to white for the bride and black ties, where Indian weddings will see a lot of bold primary colors turning the whole event into a kaleidoscope. 

So, it’s no surprise then that their practices are very different too. For example, there is a ritual called “Joota Chupai” which sees the bride’s female family members run off with the groom’s shoes for ransom. Plus, fans of astrology will like that the stars and moon determine the date of the wedding. The whole wedding is a very musical event. The families of the couple come together to put on a performance that would rival American Idol with all-singing, all-dancing. 

British

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You’ll notice that we didn’t mention any British traditions in our list of European wedding moments to adapt. No, it’s not because of Brexit, but that there is simply too much to put in that it deserves its own section. The UK is made up of a lot of subcultures collected from its various histories, so it’s easy to see how their weddings are so vastly different. Visitors travelling only a 3hr drive to a wedding always seem to gain a culture shock.

Scottish weddings, for example, are one of the few instances where kilts are common. They are considered formal attire, at least until, like tux’s elements of the outfit get abandoned when the dancing starts – which is lively. Ceilidhs are raucous events full of spinning and skipping, jumping, and running, and a staple of Scottish weddings. 

If you are going for a formal approach, you can find Greenvelope’s formal wedding invitations here. 

Plus, the Scots are responsible for a lot of scandalous elopements, including that of Lizzie Bennet’s sister, of Pride and Prejudice. When English laws restricted marriages to only those over 21, couples started trekking to the nearest Scottish town, Gretna Green, for their weddings. Today, the town is still a popular wedding spot where its legend radiates from every charming street. 

Superior dancing is also a staple of Irish weddings. If there isn’t a performing team of Irish dancers from the local Irish dancing school, then you can bet the guests will start tapping. The Celts are also responsible for where the term “tying the knot” comes from. In a tradition tracing back millennia, the couple were once tied together for a year and a day to make sure they were compatible for marriage. Today that is seen in handfasting, in which the officiant of the ceremony literally ties the couple together at the hands while they say their vows. 

Meanwhile, in Wales, brides are known to use their blessings to benefit their entire bridal party. A bridal bouquet must include myrtle, which symbolizes love, and cuttings from it are distributed to her bridesmaids. It’s like a bouquet toss where everyone wins. Plus, before diamond rings were so accessible, a Welshman used to carve wooden spoons for their potential wives. They would decorate them with keys and beads. The key would be to his heart, and the beads would indicate how many children he was hoping for. 

Chinese

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The Chinese are definitely one for interesting traditions steeped in symbolism, and their weddings are no different. For one thing, there is often a dedicated “good luck” woman seen following the bride as she travels in an elaborately decorated chair from her home to her groom’s. 

Also, a bride may be aimed at with a (headless) bow and arrow, several times. To make sure the love lasts forever, the groom will then break the arrows. 

But the most fun, and what you can probably see the most appeal in in this day and age, is the hazing ritual for the groom. Executed by the bridesmaids, the groom might find himself having to pass a number of lighthearted tests and challenges in order to prove himself worthy of the bride. What would you test him with? A round of beer pong?

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