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Marriage, n. A community consisting of a master, a

mistress, and two slaves, making in all two.
~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911~

Ethnic Wedding Traditions

That may be true for many things, but when it comes to weddings, traditions are defined as the spice of life itself! It is the traditions, especially
the ethnic traditions from all around the world that have added the spice – the very essence of life – to the glorious ceremony of the joining of
two souls, the ceremony we call marriage.
There are few customs which unite us all as people, but the custom of marriage has been a part of every culture the world has ever known – and
nowhere has the custom been more enthusiastic, more filled with the joy of life than in the various ethnic wedding traditions handed down with
love and music and dance from every corner of the globe!
And why not? Is not the language of love universal? Are not lovers welcomed everywhere with happiness?
Is there a wedding celebration anywhere that hasn’t borrowed some aspect of one of our many ethnic wedding
I doubt there is a wedding or a reception anywhere in the world today that hasn’t borrowed at least a little bit of the unbridled passion of life
from one or more of the many ethnic wedding traditions around them.
Who doesn’t recognize the joyous life-affirming ethnic music of a Jewish wedding, or what bride hasn’t worn a wedding veil, a tradition begun
in the Far East and brought back to the western world by the Crusaders of long ago?
The shoe tied to the back of the wedding car is an ancient ethnic symbol of the father relinquishing his authority over his daughter.
And what wedding would be complete without the wedding cake – an ancient, ethnic symbol of fertility?
It is from the melting pot of all the ancient ethnic traditions of peoples from all around the world that our present-day wedding ceremonies and
wedding receptions – and even the honeymoon – owe their very existence. Is there a wedding ceremony anywhere in the world that hasn’t
borrowed something old or something new from an ethnic wedding celebration somewhere?
The very ring itself, a circle with no beginning and no ending, is an ancient ethnic symbol of everlasting love and the unending power and joy of
The ethnic wedding ceremony is a joy to behold and an unbridled affirmation of life. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Live it every day of your lives
together until death do you part!
Bohemian Wedding Traditions

It is a traditional Bohemian wedding custom, for the couple getting married, to give each other specific wedding presents. The groom gives his
bride a rosary, a prayer book, a fur hat and a customary wedding ring. To protect his wife's chastity, he also give's her a girdle with three keys.
The bride gives her groom a shirt that has been sewn with gold thread and colorful silks and a wedding band.
Before a traditional Bohemian wedding ceremony, it is customary for the best man to cover the groom with the bride's cloak to keep the
marriage free of evil spirits.

Jewish Wedding Traditions

The Jewish Ketubah

Traditional Hebrew wedding ceremonies begin with the bride and groom signing a marriage contract, called the Ketubah. The agreement, which
once assured the bride's legal status, states the expectations and duties of the couple once they are married. This beautiful, ornate document will
be framed and displayed in the couples' home.
After the couple have signed the Ketubah, the groom lowers his bride's wedding veil after studying her face. This wedding custom recalls the
biblical story of Jacob, who married the wrong woman when she covered her face with a veil.
In the Jewish tradition, the wedding ring should be simple, a band with no details, no stones, and nothing engraved, with nothing to distinguish
the beginning from the end. The rabbi, groom, groomsmen, and Jewish male guests traditionally wear a white-colored cap called a yamulkes.
The Traditional Jewish Wedding Ceremony
The wedding ceremony begins with a procession of the wedding party members. At the wedding site, both sets of parents escort the bride and
groom down the aisle. The marriage ceremony is performed under a special canopy, called a huppah, which represents God's presence, shelter
and protection.
After exchanging wedding vows, seven marriage blessings are read. The groom then steps on a wine glass, to symbolize the fragility of human
happiness, a hallmark of Jewish history. It is also traditional for the bride and groom to be alone together for a few moments immediately after
the ceremony. This tradition, called yichud, originated so that the marriage could be consummated, but now it is observed as a lovely time to be
together before the reception. There is rarely, therefore, a receiving line at a Jewish wedding.
Favorite Jewish Wedding Dances
Wedding receptions are joyous celebrations, with much singing and many traditional dances. A lively Israeli dance called the Hora is performed
at the wedding reception. While they hold on to either end of a handkerchief, bride and groom are lifted into the air on chairs by their joyful
guests, as they are celebrated as 'king and queen of the night'.
A lovely Jewish custom called the "Krenzl" -- which means 'crowning' honors the bride's mother when her last daughter is wed. The mother is
seated in the center of the room and is crowned with a wreath of flowers, then all her daughters dance around her to a very lively Yiddish song.
The Mizinke is a dance of celebration reserved for both parents who have just seen their last son or daughter married. The guests encircle the
mother and father, while bestowing them with wedding flowers and kisses.
Another traditional dance is called "gladdening of the bride." All of the guests at the reception circle the bride while they dance and sing praises
about her.
A Jewish wedding would not be complete without a sumptuous meal to satisfy the entire wedding party and guests.

Marriage (Nikah) in Islam

Bride to be with wedding mehndi on her hands

The Prophet (s.a.) was once asked, "What is more important than prayer?" He replied, "The spirit of prayer" - the spirit that animates the prayer.
He was asked what is more important than fasting - he replied, the spirit of fasting. For each question concerning an Islamic practise the answer
was the same - because the spirit brings the action to life and unfolds its potentials. Without this animating spirit, the prayer is only movement,
and the fasting only hunger. But when spirit enters, when a pure and concentrated intention enters, the action is transformed - the prayer gains
the potential to become a miraj (an elevating spiritual journey), and the one fasting approaches towards the potential to witness laylatul qadr (the
night of destiny - a night when blessings from the spiritual world descend to this world).

So what is more important than marriage? It is the spirit of marriage, the intention which underlies it, the treasures which it contains hidden
within it but which must be brought out and realized by the married couple themselves.

The qur'an provides the signposts and waymarks for learning about this potential. It says:
"It is He who created you from a single soul, And made its mate of like nature in order that you might dwell with her in love...."(7:189) So the
male and female complete each other - together they make a single self and this is how they must strive to make their lives together - as if they
are one being, one person, one spirit.

The Qur'an says: "Your wives are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them." (2:187) So a husband and wife complete each other -
each one takes on a new aspect of their humanity, a new facet and depth to their personality by entering into marriage and this is symbolized in
this verse. Garments also conceal the body and protect the wearer so that a husband and wife are each other's protectors and helpers and each of
them safeguards their partner's honor shaping the state of marriage into a haven and a sanctuary where each should feel safe and secure, sheltered
in one another's care and guardianship.

The qur'an also says "And of everything we created a pair, that happily you may remember." (Qur'an 51:49) The word for spouse, "zawj", (this is
the word that is used in the marriage ceremony, the Nikkah ceremony) - the word zawj literally means one part of a pair - and when the pair
come together and act in concert with one another, then concealed potentials within them, potentials that were impossible to realize while they
were apart make themselves evident. This is true throughout creation. And human marriage in the Qur'an is considered a reflection of a nature
and tendency that exists at all levels of creation. When something is created as one part of a pair it is clearly incomplete without the other - as the
Qur'an states, "He himself created the pair, male and female." (Qur'an 53:45)

The term nikkah which is used for marriage is also used figuratively to describe the coming together of various aspects of creation. For example
it says, in the Qur'an, that "the rain married the soil" and then it describes how, from this intimate mingling, something new springs forth - that
the earth brings forth flowers and herbage, it opens to new creations, new life, new potentials. So the act of marriage, the mingling through
nikah, according to Islam, courses through all things, through all of creation. Each pair of the marriage brings something necessary and
something unique to the marriage. The pairs are not identical but complimentary to one another and their unique qualities when they are mingled
together produce that which neither one alone could produce.

So each individual of the pair undergoes change and transformation when they come together in marriage because marriage is an intimate
mingling of the selves, the souls, the personalities and the beings of two individuals.

In human marriage the change takes place at many levels - from a change in lifestyle, to changes in behavior, to changes in the very soul of the
person. And there must be that willingness, on the part of both individuals, to allow this unifying transformation to take place. To accept the self
the way it is, is to lock oneself into stagnation and narrowness and to remain an individual - not part of an intimately joined pair. It is to limit and
lock up the potential, the beauty and strength that is capable of emerging from the intimate unity made possible through marriage.

Since "God created everything in pairs", as it states in the Qur'an, and since He "created the male and the female from a single nature, from a
single self", it is God that is the point of reference for the married pair. "He has set up the balance..." of all things, so He is to be looked for to set
all things in the right equilibrium. If the two partners of a marriage set themselves in correct relation to God then certainly a perfect balance will
be realized within their lives together.

Love is a movement towards unity, towards oneness, and since God is One, "the closer the heart is to Oneness, the stronger the power of love is
within it."

Love is a movement towards unity, towards oneness. "God made their hearts familiar" (8:63) through the light of Oneness that yields spiritual
love and familiarity in the heart. For love is the shadow of Oneness, familiarity the shadow of love, and balance the shadow of familiarity."

Let this married couple be helpers and protectors of one another, let them be a refuge and a comfort to one another, let them be beautiful
garments for one another, and let them together experience the many treasures and beauties of marriage.

- Irshaad Hussain

Two aspects of nikah

Islamic marriage has two sides which are two facets of a single reality.

One facet deals with the inner nature of marriage - the "why" of marriage - the deeper, less self-evident purposes of marriage.

The other is the practical side which seeks to ensure a firm, non-sentimental approach to practical issues which are necessary for a successful
negotiation of the difficult path of marriage.

The marriage ceremony (nikah) reflects these two facets.

One facet is the intention which the man and woman make internally within themselves as they recite the marriage contract. This intention must
be firm and clear and based upon the understanding of marriage as laid out in the Qur'an:

"It is He who created you from a single soul, And made its mate of like nature in order that you might dwell with her in love...."(7:189) The male
and female complete each other - together they make a single self and this is how they must strive to make their lives together - as if they are one
being, one person.

The other facet is the legal facet - the fact that marriage is also a contract with attendant rights and obligations which the man and woman fulfil
towards one another. It is in this contract that the man and woman can specify terms and conditions of the marriage, if they wish to. By making
the practical side upfront and clear there can be no misunderstandings at a later time. The words of the actual contract are as follows:

The woman says: "I have made myself your wife and have accepted the mahr." Then the man responds: "I have accepted the marriage." The
words should be recited in Arabic, if possible. If one is unable to recite them in Arabic then a representative (wakeel) recites them on your
behalf, as in: "Fatima makes herself your wife....". It should be noted here that the act of marriage is in the hands of the woman - she is the one
who does the giving - the man then accepts what she gives.
It is through the nikah (and only through the nikah) that a man and woman become legally permissable to one another for the type of close and
intimate relationship signified in marriage.

The mahr is a "free gift" that the man offers to the woman as a token of the seriousness of his intention and his love for her - that he sacrifices
something of his substance to her as a gift that is hers to do with as she pleases. The mahr can range from something immaterial such as teaching
a verse of the Qur'an to his wife, to a ring, to property or money. The mahr must be agreed upon by the man and woman themselves, not their
parents. The mahr is given to the bride - not her parents. The mahr is hers and hers alone and she may return all or a portion of it to her husband,
if she so wishes or use it in whatever way she desires without pressure from the husband or either hers or his family.

Rumi on marriage
May your vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, sweet drink and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
your every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name, an omen
as welcome as the moon in a clear evening sky....
May spirit enter and mingle in this marriage.
- Rumi (Kulliyat-i-Shams)

Victorian Wedding Traditions

A bride at her wedding should wear:

Something old,
Something new,
Something borrowed,
Something blue,
And a sixpence in the shoe.
Or, in the United States:
...And a new dime in the shoe.
The "old" must be something which has belonged to a happily married woman. The wearing of such an item insures a lucky transfer of happiness
to the new bride. The "new" is the wedding gown, the shoes, or other apparel of the bride. The "borrowed" must be some object of gold to
guarantee wealth and fortune in the future. The "blue" is symbolic of the heavens and also of true love. The "sixpence" or "new dime" must be
worn in the heel of the left shoe to insure wealth and prosperity.
White, as the accepted color for the formal wedding, is fairly recent. It is the symbol, of course, of purity and innocence, a symbol which goes
back to the days of the Greeks. It was not until the late eighteenth century, however, that white began to be fashionable for the wedding gown, a
fashion confirmed in Victorian times, and unchallenged today. For the informal wedding the bride may select any color she considers suitable,
except that red and black-symbols of devilry and witchcraft -are taboo.
The veil itself is Eastern in origin, and the custom of wearing it was introduced into Europe by the returning Crusaders.
Eastern women wore it to ward off the evil eye, and it protected not only the face, but the whole body as well. It was not removed until after the
wedding ceremony, and the wearing of it to that time was a sign to the groom that the bride was pure and innocent. When the veil was
introduced into European and, later, American weddings the symbolism of purity and innocence continued to be associated with it. Among the
Anglo-Saxons also it was the custom for four tall men to hold a veil or canopy over the bride at her wedding to hide her blushes. If she was a
widow, the veil was esteemed useless.
The reasons given for the wearing of the ring upon the fourth finger of the left hand are three:
The most practical and mundane is the Roman explanation that this finger best protects the valuable ring. The left hand, to begin with, is used
less than the right: therefore the ring belongs to the left. And of the fingers on the left hand, the fourth is the only one which cannot easily be
extended except in the company of another. The finger is protected: the ring is as safe as it can be.
The second reason goes back to the Egyptians, who believed that a vein ran from the fourth finger of the left hand directly to the heart. Since the
heart controlled both life and love, this finger was the most honored. It deserved the ring, the pledge of love.
The third reason stems from the Christian Church which, to impress the seriousness of the ceremony upon the bride and groom, lectured that the
thumb and the first two fingers of the hand stood respectively for the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and that the fourth stood for the earthly
love of man for woman, their marriage together, and the hope of Heaven to follow.
"With this rynge I thee wed, and this gold and silver I thee give, and with my body I thee worship, and will all my worldly chatels I thee endow."
When the groom had said these words, he held the ring for a moment over the tip of the thumb of the ring hand, saying, "In the name of the
father;" then held it briefly to the tip of the second finger saying, "And of the Son;" then put it to the tip of the third finger, saying, "And of the
Holy Ghost;" and, lastly, placed it firmly on the fourth finger with a resolute "Amen."
From earliest times, the symbol of domestic authority has been the shoe. In Anglo-Saxon marriages, the father, to demonstrate transfer of
authority over his daughter from himself to the groom, took a shoe off the bride's foot and handed it to the groom. Upon receiving the shoe, the
groom became the bride's owner and master. To show his acquistion of authority, he tapped the bride lightly on the head with the sign of power,
the shoe.
So, today, when a slipper or shoe is thrown after the married couple or after their car, it is a symbol of relinquishment of authority on the part of
the father of the bride, and a total transfer of that authority and power to the groom. The slipper or shoe should, in carrying out this tradition, be
thrown by the father of the bride or by some close relative.

Wedding Traditions from Around the World

Marriage is an important aspect of family life in almost every culture worldwide. A vast majority of these cultures
have wedding traditions that in some cases are hundreds and even thousands of years old. These are an important
aspect of the merging not only of two lives, but of families as well. These traditions create a foundation for the
future family that is to come as they honor the past at the same time. In many ways the comfort of following these
cultural traditions celebrate the marriage union in a way that adds joy and excitement to a universally life-
changing and often challenging time for young couples.
Looking at wedding traditions from around the world gives one a sense of security in the purpose of the sacred
marriage vows as we realize our ancestors who come from many parts of the world valued their marriage
relationships and paved the way for us to be here now. As we look back at our roots we can find out more about
whom we are and maybe even find a way to incorporate these traditions into our lives. In doing so, we can honor
not only our heritage, but our ancestors.
African Wedding Traditions

• The Origins of weddings in Africa date back thousands of years and include the combining of two tribes into one family unit. Children
marry as young as 13 to 15 years old and divorce is rare as marital problems are worked out on a family and sometimes community level.
• Girls are trained from childhood to be good wives and even learn secret codes and languages that allow them to talk to other married
women without their husbands understanding them.
Japan Wedding Traditions

• Purple is considered the color of love and often a young bride will wear an elaborately embroidered silk kimono covered with purple iris
• Shinto weddings feature a ceremony in which spirits such as the Kami are called upon to bless the couple, while Buddhist ceremonies
include 2 strings of beads that are interwoven and symbolize the joining of 2 families into one.
China Wedding Traditions

• The groom’s family gives the gift of a whole roasted pig to the bride’s family as an engagement present.
• The traditional wedding gown is a bright red color, symbolizing luck for the couple and loud firecrackers are set off to scare off evil
India Wedding Traditions

• A part of the wedding ceremony features the bride’s mother and father washing the couple’s feet with water and milk in order to purify
them for the journey of their new life together.
• During the ceremony the couple also holds grains of rice, oats and green leaves in their hands which signify good health, wealth and

Middle East Wedding Traditions

• Is where the tradition of wearing wedding rings originated and at the wedding each guest is given five almonds that symbolize the five
sacred wedding wishes of health, happiness, wealth, fertility and longevity.
• It is common for a Middle Eastern wedding to feature five different parties including the engagement party, the party to celebrate the
signing of the wedding contract, the Henna Party, Reception and Bridal Shower.
Israel Wedding Traditions
• Ancient wedding traditions included the bride wearing something blue with her wedding dress. Currently brides in Israel wear a blue
ribbon on their wedding dress in order to symbolize fidelity.
Yemen Wedding Traditions
• The Yemeni wedding celebration includes the entire community and features a musical celebration where guests as well as professional
musicians “gladden the bride” on her wedding day.
• The day also includes the women in the family preparing a feast for the wedding reception with traditional sweetened fritters and donuts
which symbolize a “sweet life” for the newlyweds.
Baltic Wedding Traditions
• The bride’s Father’s blessing must be obtained before the couple can marry. If it is not, the couple will get no dowry, inheritance or help
of any kind from the bride’s parents. The engagement lasts for six months and consists of an exchange of rings in silk scarves, which is
considered a binding legal agreement.
• During the wedding the bridesmaids either hold a red or white canopy above the heads of the couple, who then exchange portions of their
souls. On the 2nd day after the wedding it is customary for the bride to be seated, having a small child placed upon her lap and being told
to go make one of her own.
Estonia Wedding Traditions
• The wedding tradition includes the prediction of the next groom-to-be, which happens after the bride tosses the bouquet the single
women. At that time the groom is surrounded and blindfolded by the single men, who then spin him around and then the groom puts his
top hat on the next bachelor to marry.
Iceland Wedding Traditions
• Engagements there typically last 3 to 4 years as the marriage is not to be rushed into.
• The wedding starts a day before the actual ceremony and towards the end the bridesmaids take the bride to the bridal bed and undress
her, leaving only the bridal headdress which only the groom can remove. The bride and groom then present each other with gifts. Once
they are in bed together the priest comes in to bless them one last time and the couple drink from bridal cups to seal their marriage.
Latvia Wedding Traditions
• Brides must wear a white wedding dress and veil until midnight on the day of their wedding, when the women at the wedding then
remove her veil and pass it down to one of her younger sisters, who is to marry next. Once the bride’s wedding dress and veil are
removed the bride is then given a “married women’s cap” to wear.
• Sometimes the bride is kidnapped from the wedding reception by the groomsmen, who then demand a ransom (such as a round of drinks)
before returning her to the groom.
Lithuania Wedding Traditions
• There the marriage ceremony has 3 parts. First a matchmaker puts the couple together and arranges for the dowry to be paid. Next, the
wedding ceremony takes place and lastly, is the “Atgriztai” or coming back. This occurs as the bride and groom return to the bride’s
parent’s home and the bride is greeted as a guest rather than a member of the family.
Scandinavia Wedding Traditions
• Wedding traditions there are very similar to those in Iceland as far as the seriousness of marriage and long engagements, allowing a great
of time for the bride and groom to get to know each other and see each other at their best and worst.
Denmark Wedding Traditions
• At the wedding the groom will leave for a short time, while the bride gets kissed by all of the single men. Then the bride leaves while the
single women kiss the groom.
• The wedding cake is cut by the bride and groom as they both hold the knife together. This is a tradition that is meant to ward off evil
spirits and bring the couple good luck
Finland Wedding Traditions
• Brides traditionally walk from house to house with a pillowcase to collect their wedding presents with an older married man who walks
besides her carrying an umbrella or parasol to symbolically offer her shelter and protection.
• The bride will also wear a golden crown during the wedding reception and is then blindfolded and spun around as the unmarried girls
dance around her until she places it on one girl, who will be the next to marry.
Norway Wedding Traditions
• Brides wear a silver crown with silver charms hanging all around it so that when she walks the charms make a tinkling sound that wards
off evil spirits, which have been known to cause havoc with newlyweds.
• After the couple is married, their friends and neighbors plant 2 small pine trees on either side of the couple’s front door as a symbol of
Sweden Wedding Traditions
• The bride is given gold coins by her mother. The gold coin is to be placed in her right shoe and her father also gives her a silver coin to
put in her left shoe, to insure that the bride will never be poor.
• Swedish brides also receive three golden rings, an engagement ring, a wedding ring and a motherhood ring.
Czechoslovakia Wedding Traditions
• Brides often plant a tree in their yard and decorate it with ribbons and brightly painted egg shells hoping that they will live as long as the
• Following the wedding ceremony, the couple break plates into as many pieces as possible as more pieces mean a more successful
marriage and an infant is placed upon the couple’s wedding bed symbolizing fertility.
Hungary Wedding Traditions
• New brides wear elaborate headdresses at the wedding, which are woven with strands of wheat to symbolize fertility. They are also
presented with an egg, which the bride smashes to insure the health of her future children.
• The bride also presents her husband with seven scarves, as seven is a lucky number which also signifies her desire for a long and happy
Poland Wedding Traditions
• Weddings there include a part of the ceremony where the couple is presented with rye bread sprinkled with salt and a glass of wine. The
bread ensures that the couple will never go hungry, the salt – that there will be difficulties in life, and the wine – a blessing of health and
Bulgaria Wedding Traditions
• Brides traditionally toss a dish filled with wheat, coins and a raw egg over her head. It is considered that good luck will come if the dish
• The bride and groom each step into the church with the right foot first as a sign of future happiness.
• At the wedding reception the bride’s mother will throw flowers in the path of newlyweds to symbolize wishes for their future health,
purity and happiness, after which the groom’s mother has the couple eat sweet honeyed cakes to insure a long and sweet marriage.
Croatia Wedding Traditions
• All of the wedding guests circle the well of the church three times to signify the holy trinity, which is followed by all of the guests
throwing an apple into the well to insure the fertility of the new couple.
Romania Wedding Traditions

• Marriage is of such importance that girls start collecting their trousseau and planning their weddings at the age of six.
Western Europe Wedding Traditions
• Takes credit the origin of the engagement ring when in 860 A.D., Pope Nicholas the 1st, sent out a proclamation that not only were
engagement rings a requirement to seal the marriage contract, but that they must be made of gold. This signified that the groom was
willing to make a financial sacrifice for his bride.
• The single flower for the groom, white wedding gowns and the tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold all originate from
Western European Traditions.
Italy Wedding Traditions
• Considered the land of love, that gold wedding rings first gained popularity. Italians also get credit for the first wedding cakes, as bread
or cake was traditionally broken over the bride’s head to insure fertility.
• A groom in Italy may carry a piece of iron in his pocket to ward off evil spirits and the bride wears a veil to cover her face and hide her
from jealous evil spirits. Tearing her veil is considered good luck.
Germany Wedding Traditions
• Germany is the place where the best man originated, as in the old days grooms sometimes kidnapped their brides from neighboring
villages and needed the best man (strongest man) to stand by them during the wedding ceremony to fight off the wife’s relatives who
may have come to try and get her back.
Austria Wedding Traditions
• In more formal times, the prospective groom would send his friend or family to the prospective bride to represent his interests. There are
many wedding superstitions, including the belief that it is bad luck to marry a man with a last name that has the same first letter of the
bride’s last name.
• It is also believed that the first partner who buys a new item after the wedding will be the dominant partner in the marriage. Many brides
insure that they make the first purchase by arranging to buy a small item (such as a pin) from a bridesmaid immediately following the
wedding ceremony.
Belgium Wedding Traditions
• The bride presents her mother with a flower and an embrace before the wedding as well as her mother-in-law after the wedding to
symbolize the uniting of two families.
• The bride carries a handkerchief embroidered with her name on it to the wedding, after which is framed and hung on the wall to be
passed down to the next woman who marries in the brides family.

England Wedding Traditions

• Is where the tradition of “something old, new, borrowed and blue” began with a nursery rhyme. Something old was a symbol of
continuity, something new – hope for the future, something borrowed - happiness and something blue – purity.
• The bride sews a good luck charm, such as a silver horse shoe of British Royal brides to the hem of their dress for good luck.
• The traditional English wedding cake is a fruitcake, made up with raisins, cherries, ground almonds and marzipan. The top layer of the
cake is the “christening cake” which the couple saves for the baptism of their first child.

France Wedding Traditions

• The origin of the hope chest (or trousseau), white wedding dress and a fragrant bouquet of flowers all originate in France. The groom
also brings his future wife to the church and as he escorts her to the wedding chapel, the small children in the town stretch white ribbons
across the streets, which the bride cuts as they walk by.
• A wedding toast is made during the reception, where the new husband and wife drink from specially engraved double handled goblet
(usually a precious family heirloom).
• Late on the couple’s wedding night, friends of the newlyweds often show up outside their house banging pots and pans and singing
loudly until the groom invites them in for snacks and drinks.
Germany Wedding Traditions
• At German weddings it is a tradition and considered good luck for the guests to bring old dishes to break. After the dishes are broken, the
newly married couple sweep them up together to symbolize that nothing in their house will ever be broken again.
• After the wedding reception the best man steals the bride and takes her to a local pub, where they drink Champagne until the groom finds
them. He then has to pay for their drinks. Later on, friends of the couple block the exits of the reception hall with ribbons and garlands.
Ireland Wedding Traditions
• The traditional Irish bride wears a special wedding ring, called a “Claddagh ring”, which is a heart that is held by two hands and topped
by a crown. The heart represents love, the hands signify faith and the crown - honor. The ring has a motto that is: “Let love and
friendship reign.”
• If a woman wears her claddagh ring on the left hand it means that she is married. If she wears the ring on her right hand with the heart
facing outward it means that she is single and available. If she wears the ring facing in-ward, it signifies that she is engaged.
Holland Wedding Traditions
• The families of the bride and groom throw them a party the day before their wedding, and have them sit on a throne beneath the pines as
their guests come by to bless them and wish them well.
• At Dutch wedding receptions it is common to serve heavy foods such as sweet meats called “Bridal Sugar” and spiced wine, known as
“Bridal Tears.”
Portugal Wedding Traditions
• Couples today still practice the ancient tradition at their wedding reception where the bride’s shoes are passed around and the guests stuff
money in them to help pay for the honeymoon and their new life together.
• As the couple leaves the church, friends and family throw candies and flowers at the couple instead of rice. The couple then parades
through the streets where anyone who sees them wishes them well.
Scotland Wedding Traditions
• There is an ancient tradition called “creeling the bridegroom”, where the groom has to carry a large basket (a creel) filled with stones on
his back all around the town until his intended bride comes out of her house and gives him a kiss.
• After the wedding vows the groom often pins a small piece of his clan’s tartan to his bride’s wedding dress to show that she is now a
member of his clan.
Spain Wedding Traditions
• Orange Blossoms are usually the flower of choice for Spanish brides as the orange tree is known to bear fruit and blossom at the same
time. Its flowers represent happiness and fulfillment.
• Before the wedding ceremony, the groom gives his intended bride a wedding present consisting of thirteen coins as a symbol of his
commitment to support her. The bride carries the coins with her in a little bag to the wedding.
Switzerland Wedding Traditions
• Swiss brides wear a traditional wreath that symbolizes her maidenhood. After the wedding ceremony the wreath is removed and then
burned. If it burns quickly, the bride is considered to be lucky.
• A pine tree is often planted in the new couple’s yard to represent fertility.
Mexico Wedding Traditions

• It is customary for a white ribbon or rosary, called a “lasso” to be draped around the necks of the marrying couple during the wedding
vows as a symbol of their union. As the couple leaves the church their guests throw red beads at them for good luck.
• At a Mexican wedding reception guests form a heart-shaped circle around the newlyweds as they dance their first dance as husband and
United States Wedding Traditions

• American couple’s write their own vows, which express their love, commitment and feelings.
• Couples traditionally exchange wedding rings, the circular ring which has no beginning and no end as a symbol of everlasting love and
the perform traditional wedding kiss to seal their union in front of friends of family.
Puerto Rico Wedding Traditions
• During the wedding ceremony, the Priest blesses a plate of coins and gives them to the groom, who gives them to his bride as a wedding
present after the ceremony. The coins represent good luck and prosperity.
• At the wedding reception a bride doll, that is dressed like the bride is placed at the main table. The “bride doll” is covered with little
charms, which are given to the guests.
Belize Wedding Traditions
• Brides dance or “strut” down the aisle accompanied by her father or another male member of the family.

Guatemala Wedding Traditions

• The bride and groom are bound together with a silver rope to symbolize their union.
• It is also common for the bride, bridesmaids and flower girls to all wear matching wedding gowns.
Panama Wedding Traditions
• It is customary for the groom to give the bride 13 gold coins during the wedding ceremony, which the Priest blesses. These are a symbol
of the groom’s commitment to support his new bride.
Argentina Wedding Traditions
• Instead of having a best man, maid of honor or bridesmaids the mother of the groom and the father of the bride escort the couple down
the aisle and stand beside them during the wedding ceremony.
• The couple also traditionally exchanges rings at the engagement and not during the wedding ceremony.
Chile Wedding Traditions
• Couples traditionally exchange rings during the engagement, then wear them to the wedding ceremony on their right hands. After the
ceremony, they then switch them to their left hands.
Venezuela Wedding Traditions
• There are two wedding ceremonies, a civil ceremony that takes place two weeks before the church wedding. A reception follows both
weddings, but the religious ceremony is the bigger of the two.
• During the wedding ceremony the families of the bride and groom exchange 13 gold coins, known as “Arra’s”. These may also be
exchanged between the bride and groom as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.
Bermuda Wedding Traditions
• Traditional wedding cakes are topped with a small sapling. Following the reception, the newlyweds plant the tree at their home so they
can watch it grow as their marriage does.
Cuba Wedding Traditions
• Wedding receptions in Cuba are famous for their lively celebrations featuring live music and dancing.
• Wedding guests get to participate in money dance, where the men who dance with the new bride pin money to her dress to help the
newlyweds pay for the honeymoon.
Jamaica Wedding Traditions
• At the wedding reception, the traditional cake is a dark fruitcake made liberally with rum. After the reception, the bride and groom send
the remaining slices of the wedding cake to friends and relatives who were not able to attend.
West Indies Wedding Traditions

• A traditional French West Indies wedding feast usually features white rice and curried goat.
• The wedding cake is rum-flavored and is hidden beneath a white table cloth. Guests must pay in order to get a look at it.
Fiji Wedding Traditions
• A young man must ask his true love’s father for her hand in marriage, and also present him with a gift. The customary gift is the tooth of
a whale, symbolizing wealth and status.
• When permission to marry is given to the prospective groom, he must prepare a lavish feast “the warming” and send it to his bride’s
family before the wedding.
Hawaii Wedding Traditions
• Hawaiian couples wear flower leis to their wedding as a symbol of love and respect. The bride and groom dress in pure white, with the
groom also wearing a red sash or black cloth belt tied around his waist.
• The “Hawaiian Wedding Song” is also played at the wedding and the bride’s and groom’s names are engraved upon their gold wedding
Samoa Wedding Traditions
• The traditional Samoan wedding gown is made up of a cloth called “Tapa”, which is created from Mulberry bark.
• Fresh flower and a mother-of-pearl crown, complete the bride’s wedding outfit.
Australia Wedding Traditions
• It is traditional for the bride to give the groom a keepsake bible as a wedding gift. Marriage bibles are treasured as family heirlooms and
are often passed down in families over the years.
• Australian wedding traditions are influenced by England, Scotland, Ireland and even Aboriginal customs.
New Zealand/Maori Wedding Traditions
• New Zealand weddings traditionally involve the Maori culture (New Zealand natives) even though lavish church weddings are common.
• Some Maori wedding traditions include a ceremonial welcome to the bride and groom, called a “Powhiri” and a warrior challenge.
“Infinity loops” are also place around the necks or the newlyweds, symbolizing never ending love.