When it comes to talking about weddings, every culture in the world has their own and/or shared wedding traditions. Some are still common practices and others have been modernised or abandoned altogether.
One thing is for sure, it’s fun to find out why people practice certain traditions – that’s why we have gathered some wedding traditions you may or may not have heard of from around the world.
Find our list of 7 wedding traditions from around the world below:
1. Releasing Doves, Philippines
Many Far East Asian countries, as well as some European countries, practice the release of doves as part of the wedding ceremony. In the Philippines, this is an old custom that symbolises peace, love and blessings for the new married couple. It is a tradition for the new couple to use two doves to represent the bride and the groom as their lives are now united and they will live happily together while they join together in this new journey of life.
2. Proposing on one knee
This particular traditional practice is universal and very common in many parts of the world. It is still unknown where it originates from and what the true meaning is behind proposing whilst bending down on one knee.
There are thoughts on this gesture being inspired by the days of chivalry and knighthood far back into the Middle Ages. Medieval knights use to typically go down on one knee in front of the women they adored as a token of love. Similarly in religious terms, bending down on one knee is a sign of respect and submission.
In modern day, this is still more often than not ‘expected’ from men when they pop the big question to their significant other. It is still seen as a promise to the woman that the man will now leave his bachelor days behind and commit to an eternal love by expressing his emotion and vulnerability. This is believed to bring the couple closer and enhance trust and love between each other.
3. Henna, India
Mehndi, otherwise known as henna, is a paste associated with positive spirits and good luck. Indian wedding tradition calls for a Mehndi ceremony, which is a colourful celebration held for the bride-to-be the night before the wedding. It is believed it will bring good health and prosperity to the new couple as they embark on their journey on to marriage.
This celebratory occasion is organised by the bride’s family bringing together the female components of each side. While this party is usually for the women in the family. The core significance of applying Henna is to utilise its natural medicinal herbal remedies, cooling the body and relieving the bride of any stress before her big day. Henna is applied to both the hands and the feet as a means of cooling the nerve-endings of the body, preventing the nerves from tensing up. The bride’s intricate decorative designs sometimes go half way to her knees.
4. Money Dance, Poland
This wedding tradition is a fun way to gift the bride and groom money for either their honeymoon or their new life together. The money dance, also known as the dollar-dance is taught to have originated in Poland but has now been adopted by many Eastern-European countries.
The bride and groom are expected to take to the dance floor –where they will have their guests pin cash onto the newly married couple’s wedding attire. The wedding guests are also believed to toss coins and tuck cash into the bride or grooms clothing. It may seem like a strange custom to those who don’t practice it, but in countries where it is a norm – the guests will be ready with their cash and will feel offended if the newlyweds don’t take part in the fun! What a lucky couple right!
5. Wearing a veil
This may possibly be one of the most commonly practised wedding traditions across the world. Wedding veils can easily become the centrepiece of any wedding dress and an important detail to the bride’s attire. Although in modern days, not every bride covers her face with a veil while walking down the aisle – some opt for wearing it at the back of their hair and sometimes covering their shoulders as a sign of modesty.
While the veil can represent many things for many people, it may come as a surprise to most of us that in the Roman times’ brides were walking down the aisle covered from head to toe in a not white but red veil which was known as a ‘flammeum’. This may seem like a strange concept now but it was strongly believed by the Romans that it would scare off evil spirits who may want to curse the couple as the red veil would look like the bride was on fire.
Over time, the veil began to represent chastity and modesty – the idea was that the husband would not see his new wife until they were married. The groom unveiling the bride is taught to represent ownership of the bride from her father to her husband. It is also believed that the trains and the veils of wedding dresses were designed in the past with the intention of weighing down the bride – so she would not run away. Charming!
6. Two Bouquets, Mexico
In Mexico, religious brides are often seen participating in the practice of having two wedding bouquets. It is common to have the couple present the bridal bouquet to the Virgin Mary after the ceremony in hopes that she will bless the marriage. This tradition is deeply rooted in Mexico’s devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe. For this reason, a secondary bouquet is prepared for the bride to carry after the ceremony, to pose with in pictures, and later on to throw to the girls.
7. Shaash Saar, Somali
It is a tradition in Somali culture that a new bride remains in her new home for a week after her wedding. On the seventh day there is a women’s party for the bride. On this occasion the bride will wear traditional costume, guntiino with beads. The guests circle the bride singing and reading prayers and blessings as each woman lays a scarf (shaash) on the bride’s head.
This event is known as Shaash Saar, which basically means putting the scarf on the bride’s head. This is a form of respect due to her for being married and is a symbol of her becoming a married woman. The shaash is of silky material and can have many patterns and colours, but is different to the scarves worn by unmarried women.