Understanding wedding traditions from across the globe
Wherever you are in the world, marriage will be seen as a special occasion. From country to country though, cultures will have different ways of getting ready for and then actually celebrating two people getting married. Join going out dresses retailer QUIZ as they shine the spotlight on some of the weird yet wonderful wedding traditions from across the globe…
Wedding traditions in China
Wedding traditions will vary from region to region across China simply because of the size of the country. However, each has their own special meaning.
During every day of a month in the run-up to their wedding, Tujia bridges must cry for an hour per day. 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.
Grooms in China’s Yugar culture will actually shoot their brides 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.
Then there is the ‘good luck woman’, who will assist the bride in doing her hair while she is getting ready on the day of her wedding. 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 bride will then be collected from her home by the groom. Upon arriving at the bride’s home though, he will be 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.
A red dress, or Qi Pao, which is embroidered with gold and silver detailing is traditionally worn by brides across northern China. In southern China, brides wear a two-piece outfit — a Qun Gua, Kwa or Cheongsam — featuring a gold phoenix or dragon detailing.
Once the night of the wedding comes around, the bride is presented with a half-cooked dumpling. This is a signifier of family prosperity, as the word raw is linked to child birth.
Wedding traditions in Germany
There are so many wedding traditions to be aware of in Germany. Many of them start before the big day even begins too. 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.
Couples in Germany don’t just send out their wedding invites in the post either. 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!
A civil ceremony must also be held by German couples at 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.
For German couples planning a church ceremony, a tradition is that a Polterabend is held 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.
Don’t be surprised to see German newlyweds sawing logs after a church service either. 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!
Then there’s the reception. There, 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.
Wedding traditions in India
Depending on the region where the ceremony takes place, Indian weddings will differ. As a result, 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.
A Mehendi ceremony will be undertaken by the bride in the days leading up to the wedding. 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.
How about the bride’s outfit? Well, this will again depend 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.
Walking around the fire is a key element of Indian weddings. 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.
Wedding traditions in Spain
Traditional Spanish weddings are quite different to those held in the UK too. 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.
Black lace was traditionally used to make both the wedding dress and veil. 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.
It’s also tradition that a Spanish wedding will get underway in the early evening and then continue into the early hours of the next day. 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 a key element to traditional Spanish weddings. In fact, many ceremonies see the orange blossom chosen 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!