Wedding Traditions from Around the World

August 4, 2022
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Earlier this year we took a detour from jewelry to wedding traditions when we discussed the ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ tradition. This time on the Stewart Kuper Jewelers blog we’re going to pass the dog days of summer looking at some other wedding traditions from around the globe!

Wedding Traditions from Around the Globe

Chinese Wedding Traditions

China has an incredibly rich variety of wedding traditions thanks to their large and diverse population. Many of their traditions are tied to the concept of bringing good luck, respecting the parents of the couple, and of course ensuring a long life of everlasting love! You’ll see the color red frequently, as well as the “double-happiness” symbol, again to bring as much good luck to the couple and their wedding day. Here are just four traditions from China.

Caption: The Double Happiness Symbol

Tea Ceremony

A Chinese tea ceremony involves the couple being married bringing and serving their parents tea. This ceremony is a way to show respect, honor and gratitude for what the parents have done for the couple. In return, typically the parents will then give the couple red (there’s that color again!) envelopes with money in them as a gift and mutual display of appreciation.

Wedding Door Games

This tradition is for the wedding party to have some fun. The bridesmaids will give the groom (sometimes the groomsmen as well) a series of tasks and tests the morning of the wedding. It can be anything from dances to feats of strength, all to prove that the groom is worthy of the bride’s hand. Once the bridesmaids are satisfied with his potential, he must then give them red envelopes of money to seal the deal!

Three Dresses

This tradition is less symbolic and more functional. In China, a bride will often have three different dresses throughout the course of the wedding day. The first is the qipao or cheongsam, (often red, so much luck!) a traditional, slim and embroidered dress that is worn for the ceremony. After the ceremony, before the reception, the bride will change into a more flashy gown. As the reception continues, the bride will often then make a final wardrobe change into a cocktail dress to end the night.

Bow and Arrow 

Another interesting tradition is that of the bow and arrow. The husband will take a bow and arrow (without arrowheads of course!) and fire the arrows at his bride three times. He then gathers the arrows and during the ceremony breaks them. This symbolizes everlasting love, that these arrows will not fly in their relationship.

Indian Wedding Traditions

The Joota Chupai

The Joota Chupai is a ritual that takes place on the day of the wedding. The bride’s sisters and female cousins will steal the groom’s shoes! Then they demand ransom money for the shoes return – on a day like this, how can he refuse?! A mischievous little hurdle to put in the groom’s way on his way to the ceremony, but a fun tradition nonetheless.

Mehndi

This is a striking tradition that may even be familiar to you. Right before the wedding, Indian brides will gather their close female friends and relatives and sit for hours to have their skin painted with mehndi. Mehndi is paint made from henna, a popular word it is known by. The designs are elaborate and beautiful works of art that will last a couple of weeks, but look their absolute best for the ceremony.

Caption: Woman’s hands decorated with henna.

Russian Wedding Traditions

Karavay

For our first food tradition on the list, let’s head to Russia where they enjoy ‘karavay.’  Karavay is a type of wedding sweetbread, made with wheat and interlocking rings symbolizing faithfulness and prosperity. The newly married couple will take a bite without using their hands, whoever gets the bigger bite is the head of the new family!

Groom Must Prove His Worth

Similar to the Chinese Door Games tradition, in Russia it is important for the groom to prove his worth as a husband. The groom will go to his future in-law’s home, give the family presents, perform tasks or specifically humiliate himself, usually through dance and song, until the family gives him the ok.

Scandinavian Wedding Traditions

Kransekake

In Norway they opt for a special type of cake called the kransekake. It is made with almond cake rings, stacked on top of each other to create a cone shape. In the middle a wine bottle is stashed in the hollow center of the rings. The cake is iced as well. Sounds delicious and who doesn’t like a little wine with their dessert?

Bridal Crowns

Bridal crowns are a popular tradition in Norway and Sweden. In Norway the tradition is for the bride to wear a crown made of silver and gold with small charms worked into it or dangling from the crown. When the bride moves the charms will create a tinkling noise which is said to defend against any evil spirits about.

The Swedish bridal crown by comparison is made up of myrtle leaves. Rather than deflect evil spirits, myrtle is meant to symbolize innocence. Myrtle would be worn with the traditional Swedish wedding dress made up of multiple colors making for quite the contrast with the standard white wedding gowns.

German Wedding Traditions


These two traditions from Germany have a similar theme, and it’s probably not quite what you’d expect!

Sawing a Log

A tradition for newlyweds in Germany is for them to Immediately be given a large log and a saw. That’s right, their wedding gift is a chore! By sawing the log in half, the couple are solidifying their ability to be on the same side, to work together and get through difficult scenarios. 

Some couples use a saw, some use a chainsaw, some still wear their wedding attire to make it happen. Regardless of how they flavor it, sawing that log is the first step for many German newlyweds.

Caption: Newlyweds sawing a log.

Polterabend

As if sawing a log wasn’t enough, there’s also the tradition of ‘Polterabend.’ The wedding guests will take porcelain dishes and throw them on to the ground to shatter and ward away evil spirits. With all that shattered porcelain somebody needs to clean up… Who better than the lovely couple! Similar to the log sawing, this tradition is built upon the idea of two partners tackling any challenge in their path – together.

Welsh Wedding Traditions

Myrtle Bridal Bouquets

The Swedes aren’t the only people to use myrtle in their wedding day attire! In Wales, brides will give their bridesmaids a bouquet that includes a cutting of myrtle. For them the plant symbolizes love. As tradition dictates, if a bridesmaid plants the myrtle cutting and it blooms – well there’s a new bride on the way!

Lovespoons

This tradition typically takes place before the wedding day itself but it’s so cute we thought we’d mention it. Tradition has it that when a Welshman was ready to commit and had fallen in love, he should carve spoons from wood to give to his future bride.

Latin American Wedding Traditions

Traditions in Latin America can vary wildly but here are a few that are seen throughout the Latin world!

La Hora Loca

La Hora Loca, Spanish for ‘Crazy Hour’ is a specific hour of the reception where dancing and fun are kicked up to 11!

Arras

Arras is found in Spanish and Filipino weddings, as well as in Latin America. Arras is an exchange of coins during the ceremony. Arras means ‘earnest money’ and symbolizes the groom’s promise to care and provide for the family. When the bride accepts the coins she’s showing her faith in her husband’s promise. It’s all about the commitment to one another.

Caption: A bride holds the coins of arras.

Lasso Ceremony

Here’s another fun one! A lasso ceremony involves draping a rope around the couple during their ceremony, binding them together. It’s a ceremony that is seen in Filipino weddings as well, and similar to hand tying traditions around the world.

African-American Wedding Traditions

African-American wedding traditions are a truly unique custom. These weddings are rich with tradition, African roots, the history of families and the American experience.

Jumping the Broom

Jumping the broom is perhaps one of the most common traditions at African-American weddings. At the end of the ceremony, a broom is laid on the ground in front of the couple and they jump over it together. It symbolizes the start of a new chapter in their lives, sweeping the past behind them, and more. Find out more about this one at How Stuff Works.

Libation Ceremony

Libation ceremonies trace their history to West Africa. It’s a ritual involving the pouring of a liquid to honor the ancestors at the wedding. Couples can personalize it by choosing any beverage they want, allowing the ceremony to truly respect and honor the specific ancestors in mind.

These are just a small handful of the many, many, many different traditions around the world. We haven’t even scratched the surface! What’s really interesting is to see the connections and similarities in traditions. From the Chinese Door Games to the Russian groom needing to prove his worth, or the presence of myrtle in bouquets and flower crowns, or the wearing of white – there is so much crossover in the wedding traditions of the world!

One of the most popular and widespread traditions? The exchanging of rings! Need help shopping for your engagement rings or wedding bands? Stewart Kuper Jewelers has you covered! Contact us here or give us a call at 520-462-5612 to schedule a one-on-one appointment!