Worldwide Wedding Customs

By Nicola Bridges

June 21, 2018 5 min read

From tossing the bouquet to the single gals and throwing a garter to the unmarried fellows, to feeding each other cake and throwing confetti, traditions for luck, prosperity and fertility are standard at most American weddings. But if you want to make your wedding day even more memorable, here's an A-Z of creative customs to incorporate from different countries and cultures around the world.

--Australia. Guests are given stones to hold during the wedding ceremony and afterwards place in a decorative bowl for the couple to display in their home to remind them of the loving support of friends and family.

--China. The bride hides her face under a red veil, while her mother or an attendant holds a red umbrella over her to promote fertility and family. "Umbrellas also flourish at weddings in China to protect the couple from bad luck," explains Lisl Spangenberg, author of "Timeless Traditions: How to Blend Wedding Customs from Around the World into Your Own Wedding Ceremony."

--Czech Republic. Before the ceremony, guests place a baby in the couple-to-be's bed, and afterward guests shower the couple with peas -- both to bless them and foster fertility.

--Ireland. Irish couples often give each other a horseshoe, and brides hide a tiny horseshoe in their bouquet or pinned discretely somewhere on or inside their dress for good luck -- and always with the "U" pointing up so the luck doesn't spill out.

--France. If you're looking for a great centerpiece, "French weddings often feature a tower of cream-filled puff pastry pieces called croquembouche for people to pull and dip in delicious sauces," suggests Spangenberg. "But you may want to pass on the French tradition of 'la soupe,' where the bride and groom eat leftovers served in a toilet bowl-like bowl, supposedly to give them strength for the wedding night."

--Holland. Family and friends plant a pine tree outside the newlyweds' home, symbolizing fertility and good fortune.

--Italy. "The Italian word confetti refers to sugar-panned almonds, which used to be thrown but are typically now given to guests as favors, representing both the bitter and sweet of marriage," says Spangenberg. When you shower the couple with tiny bits of paper, you're actually throwing coriandoli.

--Kenya. When the happy couple leaves the village, the father of the bride spits on his daughter's head and chest to protect the couple's good fortune.

--Mauritius. Whereas brides in America look to lose weight and slim down for their big day, girls in Mauritius are forced to fatten up. There a well-rounded wife shows that the husband is wealthy enough to keep her well-fed.

--Norway. Norwegians make the towering cake even more fun with a hidden surprise. Made of iced almond cake rings, the kransekake is made around a surprise bottle of wine or champagne, revealed as guests pull off cake pieces to eat.

--Poland. At the wedding reception, guests give money to the maid of honor to buy dances with the bride and help pay for the honeymoon.

--The Philippines. After the I-do's, Filipino newlyweds release a pair of doves, symbolizing a peaceful, long and harmonious happy life together. Did you know mourning doves mate for life?

--Scotland. A few days before the wedding, friends and family cover the couple with treacle, feathers, ash, and flour to ward off evil spirits and bring them luck.

--Spain. Grooms cut up their tie and brides their garter and auction off the pieces to friends to pass along good luck.

--Venezuela. Guests play hide-and-go-seek with the bride and groom. If the happy couple can sneak off without guests finding them, the game is supposed to bring them good luck.

--Wales. "The best man steals the bride and takes her away to a pub somewhere, and the groom has to find them," shares Spangenberg, laughing. "Perhaps it's just another excuse to party."

--Zimbabwe. Across generations, Matebele mothers pass down a tradition of house painting to the bride, whose job it is to paint her home inside and out. A colorfully decorated home is said to be the sign of a good and loving wife.

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