Wedding Traditions from Around the World
In Chinese weddings, the bride typically wears three dresses. The first dress is usually a fitted red gown that she wears at the beginning of the ceremony. Red symbolizes good fortune in Chinese culture, so this color is important in bringing a lifetime of abundance to the couple. The second dress, a white ball gown is similar to what brides in Western culture wear. Finally, the bride may don a more casual dress for the reception.
In Indian culture, the friends and family of the bride may decorate her hands and forearms in henna, a type of temporary dye that stains the skin and can last for up to two weeks. This intricate designing can take up to hours to complete, and the process usually takes place the night before the wedding.
During slavery, marriages between slaves were often forbidden. The couple would marry in secret, with only their closest family and friends present. They would use a straw broom, jumping over it to symbolize the transition from single to married life. This tradition is still commonly used in African American weddings.
A sweet tradition, the Peruvian cake pull is a favorite of single female wedding guests. The wedding cake features ribbons that are inserted into the cake. Each of the single guests is invited to pull one ribbon from the cake. One of the ribbons contains a gold “ring,” and tradition has it that the woman who pulls that ring will be the next to get married.
In Russia, the groom isn’t simply handed his bride-to-be during the ceremony. He must work for her affections and that of her family. The groom will often arrive at the bride’s home on the night before the wedding, where he will be required to pay a “ransom” for his wife. He is required to bring small gifts, answer riddles and perform silly tasks like diapering a fake baby. Only then is he allowed to proceed with the marriage.
In Jamaica, it literally takes a village to marry a couple. During Jamaican wedding ceremonies, the entire village gathers to witness the processional of the bride to the ceremony. If she is not looking her absolute best, she can be subject to public scorn.
In Germany, families take great steps to prepare for the financial expense of the wedding. The family will prepare a newspaper which gives details of the couple’s lives and love story, and sell this paper to the wedding guests to pay for the honeymoon.
In Malaysian ceremonies, the bride and groom often sit on thrones and feed each other rice throughout the ceremony. The rice is meant to symbolize fertility. Each guest is given an intricately painted egg, which also represents fertility.
The United States
In Medieval times, guests of the wedding thought it good luck to take pieces of the bride’s dress and bouquet. After the ceremony, they would often rip the bride’s clothing to shreds, leaving her exposed. Grooms decided that the best way to prevent this was to voluntarily give part of the bride’s attire to eager guests. Now, grooms in traditional Western wedding ceremonies often remove the bride’s garter and throw it to the bachelors in the audience.
There are many ways to join two couples, and the wedding traditions from around the world are the perfect illustration of this concept.