Marriage is special no matter the country. However, different cultures have their own unique ways of preparing for and celebrating the happy couple’s nuptials. QUIZ, retailers of occasion dresses, tell us a few weird and wonderful wedding traditions from around the world.
Germany has a wealth of wedding traditions, with many of them starting before the big day even begins. For example, before a future bride-to-be is even engaged, she saves away pennies, which will then be used to purchase her wedding shoes. This tradition is said to help the happy couple get off on the right foot.
While other countries will simply pop their wedding invites in the post, it’s very different for couples in Germany. They send out a Hochzeitslader, a gentleman dressed in formal, fancy wear complete with ribbons and flowers, to hand-deliver their invitations. Guests accept the invitations by pinning a ribbon from the Hochzeitslader’s outfit onto his hat, before inviting him into their home for a drink. Depending on the guest list, this can take quite some time!
German couples must have a civil ceremony in their town registry office. Then, in the days following, a church ceremony can be held, although this isn’t required. Generally, few guests will attend the civil ceremony and the bride and groom will dress relatively simply.
If a church ceremony is to take place, it’s traditional for a Polterabend to take place a few days after the civil ceremony. Believing that negative spirits are attracted to brides, Polterabend takes place to scare them aware. On the night before the church ceremony, the bride and groom gather with their friends and family where they smash china and porcelain. The noise made is said to scare away the spirits, while illustrating that their marriage will never break. Glass is never broken, as this is believed to be bad luck.
Following the church service, some German newlyweds may saw logs. A log is set up on a sawhorses and the bride and groom must work together to saw through it, illustrating their teamwork. Instead of confetti, wedding guests throw grains of rice over the bride and groom, with legend being that each grain of rice that lands in the bride’s hair symbolises a future child!
At the reception, the bride’s veil is held up and the bride and groom dance underneath it. When the music stops, single women will tear pieces off the veil. The lady left with the biggest piece is said to be the next to marry. Alternatively, instead of ripping the veil, guests simply throw money into it while it is held up.
In a traditional Spanish wedding, things are done a little differently to the UK. For example, they don’t include bridesmaids, groomsmen, a maid of honour or best man, and the mother of the groom walks her son down the aisle. Likewise, there are no speeches and wedding rings are worn on the ring finger of the right hand.
Traditionally, the wedding dress and veil was actually made from black lace! However, modern times have seen more brides wearing a white lace dress and mantilla, a type of lace headdress. The mantilla is traditionally given by the mother of the bride, who will have it embroidered especially. The mantilla is worn with a peineta — a high comb.
Usually, traditional Spanish weddings will begin in the early evening and continue into the early hours. Often, the groom will present his bride with 13 gold coins, each blessed by a priest. This act is said to bring the couple good fortune and symbolise the groom’s commitment to support his bride.
Flowers are important to traditional weddings in Spain, with many choosing the orange blossom to symbolise purity. The bride will give a small flower corsage to her girlfriends. If a lady is single, she must wear her corsage upside down and if she loses it during the night, it’s believed that she will be next to be married!
The size of China as a country means traditions can vary from region to region, yet each has their own special meaning.
Tujia brides must cry for an hour a day every day for a month in the run-up to their wedding. After the first ten days, the bride’s mother joins her in crying daily before being joined by her grandmother. As the other women join in, it’s seen as an expression of their joy.
Brides from the country’s Yugar culture will be shot by their grooms with a bow and arrow (thankfully, the arrows are free from their arrowheads!). After shooting their bride three times, the arrows are broken, showing that the couple will always love each other.
When the bride is getting ready on the day of the wedding, a ‘good luck woman’ will help the bride do her hair. This woman is considered lucky if she has living parents, a spouse and children, and it is hoped she will pass on some of this good fortune to the bride.
The groom will collect the bride from her home, where he is greeted by the bride’s friends, who block his entry into the home (it’s all in good spirits). The groom is required to prove his love for his future wife through answering a series of questions about her or even by offering money in red envelopes to buy his way into the house.
Brides in northern China will traditionally wear a red dress or Qi Pao, embroidered with gold and silver detailing. In southern China, brides wear a two-piece outfit — a Qun Gua, Kwa or Cheongsam — featuring a gold phoenix or dragon detailing.
On the wedding night, the bride is given a half-cooked dumpling. This is a signifier of family prosperity, as the word raw is linked to child birth.
Indian weddings differ depending on the region that they’re taking place, therefore bridal traditions are different too. It’s not uncommon for Indian weddings to take place over several days — different to the couple’s one special day in other countries.
Ahead of the wedding day, the bride partakes in a Mehendi ceremony. This is where family and friends gather to apply the beautifully intricate henna. Tradition says that the deepness of the colour of the henna determines the bond between husband and wife and how well the bride will get along with her mother-in-law. Hidden within the henna are the names of the happy couple and it’s often painted on the palms, hands, forearms and legs.
When it comes to the outfit of the big day, it again depends on where the bride was born. In some regions, the women will wear a saree (long drape) for her wedding and in others she wears a lehenga (a long skirt). It’s common for the bride to be dressed in red or another bright colour and her clothing is stitched with an outstanding design.
A key element in an Indian wedding is the walk around the fire. The marriage becomes official when the bride and groom walk around the fire four times as verses are chanted, and the couple is tied together. The husband and wife then race back to their seats, as the one who sits first is said to be the most dominant.
From Chinese brides getting shot by a bow and arrow, to being painted in delicate patterns, bridal traditions are very different depending on where you live. But, they’re all a celebration of love and happiness and are special in their own ways. Will you take any inspiration from these traditions for your special day?