Weddings are a beautiful celebration of love and commitment, but they can also be a treasure trove of weird and wonderful traditions worldwide. While some customs are universal, others are downright bizarre. This article will explore the fascinating world of strange wedding traditions, exploring 21 unique customs from different cultures. From crying bridesmaids to tree-planting ceremonies, you’ll be amazed at the diversity of rituals accompanying the journey of two people in love. As a passionate enthusiast of wedding traditions worldwide, I’ve dedicated years to studying these unique customs firsthand. My travels and research have allowed me to gain insights into the fascinating world of strange wedding traditions, and I’m excited to share these discoveries with you.
- The Crying Bridesmaids & Red Wedding Dress in China
In China, it’s customary for brides to have bridesmaids who shed tears of joy. These tears symbolize the bride’s transition from sorrow to happiness as she leaves her family to join her husband. It’s believed that the tears also ward off evil spirits. Also, brides traditionally wear red wedding dresses to symbolize luck and happiness. Red is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune to the couple. It’s a vibrant and symbolic choice of attire.
- Scotland’s First Footing and the Blackening of the Bride and Groom
In Scotland, friends and family capture the bride and groom just before the wedding, cover them in a sticky, gooey mixture of treacle, feathers, and flour, and parade them through town. This rather unusual ritual is meant to prepare the couple for the challenges of married life, symbolizing that they can handle anything together. Another one is that the first person who enters the newlyweds’ home after the wedding is an important guest called the “first footer.” They bring symbolic gifts like salt, bread, and whisky, representing prosperity, sustenance, and good cheer.
- Germany’s Polterabend – The Noisy Night
The night before a German wedding, there’s a tradition called Polterabend. Friends and family gather to break porcelain dishes and other items. The couple must then clean up the mess together, symbolizing their ability to work together to overcome challenges.
- Germany’s Sawing a Log
After the ceremony in Germany, the bride and groom must work together to see a large log in half. This represents the first obstacle they must overcome as a married couple and symbolizes their teamwork and determination.
- South Korea’s Beating of the Feet
In South Korea, the groom’s friends remove his shoes and tie a rope around his ankles. They then beat the soles of his feet with dried fish. This strange tradition is believed to make the groom strong for the wedding night and symbolizes his readiness for the challenges of marriage.
- Australia’s Unity Bowl Ceremony
In some Aboriginal cultures of Australia, a unity bowl ceremony takes place. The bride and groom each pour different colored sands into a bowl, representing their lives. As the sands mix, it symbolizes the blending of their lives and families.
- Romania’s Kidnapping of the Bride
In certain parts of Romania, it’s not uncommon for the bride to be kidnapped by friends or family just before the wedding. The groom must then quest to rescue her, proving his love and determination. It’s a test of his commitment and a playful tradition that adds excitement to the wedding.
- Japan’s Matchmaking Photos and Sake-Sharing Ceremony
In Japan, some weddings involve exchanging matchmaking photos, called “nakōdo” photos. Couples share these photos with a nakōdo, a matchmaker who helps arrange the marriage. It’s a modern twist on traditional matchmaking. In Japan, the bride and groom also perform a “san-san-kudo” ritual during the wedding ceremony. They take three sips each from three cups of sake, signifying the union of two families and the couple’s commitment to each other.
- Breaking Bread in Armenia
In Armenia, the bride and groom’s families break special, decorated flatbread called “lavash” over the heads of the newlyweds. This symbolizes a life full of abundance and blessings, and the couple must try to collect as many pieces as possible.
- The Painted Faces of Morocco
In Morocco, brides have a unique pre-wedding beauty ritual called “goual.” Their hands and feet are painted with intricate henna designs, believed to ward off evil spirits. It’s a beautiful tradition that adds an element of artistry to the wedding preparations.
- The Money Dance: Filipino Prosperity
In the Philippines, there’s a tradition called the “money dance.” During the reception, guests pin money onto the bride and groom’s clothing as a wish for prosperity. This lively dance is a fun way to celebrate and support the newlyweds.
- Russia’s Car-Decorating Shenanigans
In Russia, friends of the bride and groom often play pranks on them. One common prank involves decorating the couple’s car with outrageous and hilarious items. It’s a playful way to start the wedding day with laughter.
- India’s Kumbh Vivah and Haldi
In India, individuals under unfavorable astrological conditions may opt to perform a “kumbh vivah” ritual, which entails marrying a tree or a banana plant. This practice is believed to counteract the negative effects before they wed a human. In addition, the “haldi” ceremony is a pre-wedding practice in India, where a mixture of turmeric, sandalwood, and other elements is applied to the bride and groom’s skin. This paste is thought to provide a healthy glow to the skin and serve as a protective shield against evil forces.
- Wales’ Love Spoons
In Wales, giving a loved one a “love spoon” is customary to symbolize affection and commitment. These intricately carved wooden spoons have different symbols, each with a specific meaning. Giving a love spoon is a cherished gesture.
- The Curious Shoe Game in Czechia
In Czechia, there’s a game where the bride and groom are seated back-to-back, each holding one of the other’s shoes and one of their own. The guests then ask them a series of humorous questions, and they raise the shoe that corresponds to their answer. It’s a lighthearted way to involve the guests in the celebration.
- The Sweetness of Danish Tradition
In Denmark, it’s common to serve a kransekage, a tower of marzipan rings, at weddings. The bride and groom pull one ring each from the tower, and the number of rings that stick together symbolizes how many children they will have.
- Jumping the Broom: African American Tradition
In African American weddings, there’s a tradition known as “jumping the broom.” The couple jumps over a broomstick to symbolize their new life together, leaving behind their old lives as single individuals.
- The Throwing of Coins in Greece
In Greece, it is customary to throw coins at the bride and groom as they exit the church. This symbolizes wealth and prosperity and ensures a financially secure future for the newlyweds.
- Argentina’s Gaucho Tradition
In Argentina, some rural weddings feature a unique tradition where the groom arrives at the wedding venue on horseback, wearing traditional gaucho attire. It’s a nod to the country’s rich cowboy culture and adds a touch of rustic charm to the celebration.
- Sweeping Away Evil in Jamaica
In Jamaica, it’s customary for the bride and groom to jump over a broomstick covered in herbs and spices. This tradition is believed to sweep away evil spirits and negativity, clearing the path for a happy and harmonious marriage.
- Italy’s Confetti Bombardment
In Italy, it’s common to throw confetti at the bride and groom as they exit the church. These confetti are often made of sugared almonds and symbolize the bittersweet nature of marriage – the sweetness of love and the bitterness of life’s challenges.
Weddings reflect the rich tapestry of human culture, and the strange traditions accompanying them serve as a testament to the diversity and creativity of our world. From tears of joy in China to breaking bread in Armenia, these customs may seem unusual, but they all share a common thread – the celebration of love and commitment. So, whether you’re planning your wedding or simply curious about the world’s peculiar customs, remember that love knows no bounds, and traditions are a beautiful way to celebrate it.