Christian & Non-Christian Wedding Customs

A wedding is formalized by bouquet tossing, and most American traditions are followed. But all practices all over the world have specific rules that they follow. Some of these traditions are sweet and perplexing, for instance, in Congo, where the couple is forbidden from smiling at each other during their wedding day. Some of the traditions are strange, but after all, is said and done, what disparate these customs from far and near are a straightforward thing called love.

Here we’ll take a look at some of the most common Christian wedding traditions and what they mean for the bride and groom.

When two Christians get married, there are some customary things that will likely happen. Most commonly, the couple will exchange rings and have a wedding ceremony. There may also be a reception following the ceremony. Each of these moments can hold great significance for the couple and their families. 

  1. The procession – It is that time in a Christian wedding when bride and the groom make their way to the altar. The groom comes in after the officiate of the wedding say a pastor or priest. The groom is escorted by her parents in most cases or those closest to her in a parent position. The bride then comes in last escorted by her parents as well and her bridal team. This has been the tradition ever since and it is followed to date.
  2. Presentation –This is the giving away of the bride to the groom’s family. It Is used to symbolize that the bride is a gift to the groom.
  3. Prayer – There is a part of the wedding ceremony that is specifically to pray for the couple and to receive their matrimonial blessings.
  4. Exchange of vows – Often than not the bride and groom repeat after the marriage officiant the vows which has been a tradition but is recently changing as couples are choosing to state their own vows other than the commonly known and used vows.
  5. Recession – It has always been a tradition to have the couple walk out of church together. Having the minister first in and out last marks beginning and end of ceremony.

Some of the non-Christian traditions include:

In Norway, Brides wear crowns to deflect evil spirits: The bride wears a silver and gold crown with small charms. The charms are supposed to put away the evil spirits by the sound they make when the bride moves.

Mexico: Wedding lasso: A lasso is a bead-like rosary that is put around the neck in the shape of figure eight as the couple as they exchange their vows. The lasso is meant to symbolize unity among the couple, and as well the eighth symbol is meant to represent infinity to show that their marriage has been sealed to infinity.

Armenian: Balance bread: In this tradition, the balance lavash flatbread is put on the newly 

wedded couple’s shoulders. Upon entrance of the bride and groom into the wedding reception, they are meant to break a plate that should symbolize good luck. The mother of the groom then gives the couple honey and lavash. The bread is then put on their shoulders to drive away evil spirits and take a spoonful of honey to symbolize happiness.

Congo: No smiling on the wedding day: A wedding is supposed to bring happiness to even the couple. But in Congo, couples are to keep their joy in check on the wedding day and are not meant to exchange smiles. The exchange of smiles is presumed o lack seriousness about the marriage.

China; Bow and Arrow:   1) The prospective husband is meant to shoot his bride with a bow that is headless, and then during the ceremony, he is then supposed to break all the arrows, which is supposed to symbolize that their love will last forever. 

  1. Carrying the bride: The bride’s family is supposed to hire a good lucky woman. The woman is then supposed to take care of the bride as she travels from her home to that of the groom in a very decorated sedan chair. Other attendants shield the bride with parasols and toss rice, a sign of health and prosperity.
  2. Wedding door games: On the morning of the wedding, the bride puts the groom and some of his groomsmen through a hard time by playing a game called wedding door games. This game is meant to prove the groom worthy of the bride. Then the groom pays of girls with envelopes full of money.
  3. Philippines: Releasing white doves: After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom release white doves, a male, and female, in the air. The doves are said to represent a harmonious living for the newlywed.

Fiji: Presentation of a whale’s tooth: According to the Fiji tradition, once a man asks his father-in-law for a hand in her daughter’s marriage, he must present a whale’s tooth to his father-in-law.

Scotland : Eloping: It is a widespread tradition where couples elope and, in the process, get married.

Greece: Shaving the Groom: The groom’s best man takes up the role of shaving the groom. After the clean shave, the new mother-in-law should feed the groom with honey and almonds.

Guatemala: Breaking a bell: During the wedding reception, the groom’s parents can do whatever they want, including breaking or smashing things. Upon the newlyweds’ arrival, the groom’s mum is supposed to break a white ceramic bell filled with grains like rice and flour. This act is considered to bring prosperity to the couple.

Japan:  A white tsunokakushi:  On the wedding day, the bride is meant to wear white from head to toe, including the kimono and a hood called the tsunokakushi. The white symbolizes the maiden status, and the hood is intended to hide the horns of jealousy that she feels towards her mother-in-law. Just as in the Christian setup, the bride is meant to wear a white gown to symbolize purity.

Lebanon; Music and dancing before the ceremony. The wedding ceremony starts with what they call safe. This is music, belly dancing, and shouting to all family, friends, and relatives. Eventually, all people end up in the bride’s house, where the couple is presented with blessings and gifts. Just as in the Christian setup, there is a lot of song and dance, and the people attending the wedding are meant to take part in the music and dance. There is the presentation of gifts to the couple at the Christian marriage.

Germany : Polterabend: The couple is meant to clean up piles of porcelain dishes that the guests have used to wave off any evil spirits. They do the cleaning together to symbolize that the couple is ready to face any challenge that they meet together.

Norway: Kransekake: Unlike in the standard wedding setups where we have the typical wedding cakes, in Norway the wedding a towering special occasion cake called kransekake 

is served. The cake is usually made of iced almonds in corn shape, and a wine bottle is placed in the cake’s hollow center.

Czech: Placing a baby on the couple’s bed: Ababy is placed on the couple’s bed to enhance their fertility. The guests then usher the couple with rice, peas, or lentils, also meant to promote fertility.

Russia: 1) Karavay:  Karavay is a sweetbread that newlywed couples are supposed to share. It is decorated with wheat for prosperity and interlocking rings for faithfulness. Whoever will then take the giant bite without using their hands is then considered the head of the family. In a Christian set up, the couple shares a cake with their friends and relatives to symbolize unity.

  1. Wedding photos by the tomb of an unknown soldier: It is often a gesture of respect that the couple takes pictures of an unknown soldier. They then lay flowers on the grave afterward.
  2.  Ireland: Keep one foot on the ground during their first dance: The bride is supposed to keep one foot on the ground during their first dance at all times. It is stated that if she doesn’t, then evil fairies will come and sweep her away.

India; Joota Chupai: During the ceremony, the bride’s sisters or cousins take off with the groom’s shoes and demand ransom money for their safe return.

Cuba: The money dance: In the Cuban tradition, any man who dances with the bride must pin money to her gown. This money is meant to help the couple cater for their honeymoon costs.

Turkey: Hanging flags :

Venezuela: Couple leaves before the end of reception: In Venezuela, you can’t wait till the end of the reception to have a word with the couple. This is because the couple is meant to sneak away before the end of the wedding, but they are not meant to get caught.

Mongolia: Chicken liver tradition:   Mongolian couples set to have a wedding must first kill a chicken and cut it apart, holding the knife together to find a healthy liver. They then keep at it up until they are successful.

Romania: Hiding the bride: Before the wedding, guests work together to abduct the bride. The groom then presents gifts such as alcohol to those meant to look for the bride while singing sweet songs to please the bride.

Spain: Cutting the tie: The groom’s friend is to take a pair of scissors and cut up the tie, then sell the pieces to the guests to raise more money for the newlyweds. The same is applied to the brides’ garter.

Canada: Money dance: The older siblings of the couple are meant to have a session of song and dance. During this time, the guests are told to throw money at them, collect it, and give it to the newlyweds.

Italy: La Serenata:  On the wedding eve, the groom can throw a party outside his bride to be windows . It begins with the groom and is backed up by musicians serenading his fiance.

South Korea: Falaka ceremony: The groom’s family and friends hold his hands as they beat the bottoms of his feet with either a stick or some dried fish. During the practice, he is asked trivial questions to help his memory.


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