There are plenty of traditions that go into your basic Western wedding ceremony. From the bouquet to the layered cake, traditional Western weddings are a melting pot of traditions from throughout Europe. Though every culture has its own variant of the wedding ceremony, each has its own share of unique traditions. Here are a few that might be a fun way to spice up your wedding:
At the end of an Indian wedding ceremony, the bride and groom exchange garlands of flowers. Before the ceremony begins, though, they give each other rings. But that’s not the end of the gift-giving: the bride and groom’s families exchange gifts as well. It’s a lovely way to celebrate the fact that a new family is being created, hopefully setting the stage for many gift-giving situations to come.
In a traditional Western wedding, the bride and groom don’t see each other on the wedding day until the ceremony begins. There’s a strong taboo against the groom even seeing the bride’s wedding dress, much less seeing the bride all dressed up. But in a traditional Islamic wedding, the bride and groom don’t see each other until nearly the end of the wedding ceremony. The officiant visits the bride and groom in private, in separate rooms, and asks them both if they agree to be married. Only after they sign the wedding contract do they come together.
In a traditional Russian ceremony, the bride and groom must apply for a wedding license a month before the ceremony. When it is granted, the bride and groom are treated as royalty for the day, complete with crowns.
There are also a few light-hearted contests to see whether the bride or the groom will be the “head of household.” The couple says their vows on a special wedding carpet, and there’s a race to be the first one to the carpet. At the reception, the couple is served a loaf of bread, and whoever takes the biggest bite wins.
China has been growing rapidly in the last couple of decades, and they are now the biggest economic powerhouse on the globe. However, most of their wedding traditions are seated deep in the past, and they are definitely one of the most traditional nations on Earth. As the country who invented fireworks, it’s no surprise that many couples in China track down the brightest wedding sparklers they can find and the loudest firecrackers that are sold to celebrate their wedding with sparks and loud bangs. This tradition has begun to bleed into other parts of the world, so most people are already familiar with this concept.
In Peru, they have a unique method of discerning who the next person to get married will be. There’s no bouquet or garter toss like in a Western ceremony. Instead, there are ribbons woven in between the layers of the wedding cake, each with an end sticking out. All the unmarried women take turns picking a ribbon and pulling it out. One ribbon has a plastic wedding ring tied to it; whoever pulls out the ring is the next one to be wed. It’s a fun alternative to the mad scramble at a Western bouquet toss.
By our mid-twenties, most of us have been to a dozen or more weddings. After watching twelve couples squish cake into each other’s’ faces and dancing the chicken dance a handful of times, you might want to go for something a little more exotic for your wedding ceremony. Consider looking to these global wedding traditions for something that will stand out for your guests and make your special day that much more memorable.