Bridal Traditions from Around the World

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A wedding day is one of the most important days in your life, this is the same around the world. There are lots of similarities between wedding around the world, but the interesting part comes from the unique ways that brides from different cultures prepare and celebrate the big day. Below we explore some of the most fascinating bridal traditions.

Germany

Germany has lots of traditions that are specific to the country, most of them are before the wedding day arrives. To make sure that couples “get off on the right foot”, women begin to save pennies from a young age so that once engaged she can buy her own wedding shoes.

Instead of sending out a wedding invitation through the mail, couples in Germany send out a Hochzeitslader. Depending on how big the guest list is, this can turn in to quite a lengthy process. A Hochzeitslader consists of a male dressed in a formal and fancy outfit 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.

A German civil ceremony takes place in a town registry and then a church ceremony in the next few days. The civil ceremony is usually a more toned-down affair and the bride and groom will usually dress simply.

With the belief that negative spirits are attracted to brides, a Polterabend will take place a few days after the civil ceremony to scare of the spirits. On the night before the church ceremony, the bride and groom gather with their friends and family where they smash china and porcelain. This symbolizes that their marriage will never brake as well as the scaring away spirits with the noise. It is important that glass is never broken as this I known to be bad luck.

To show to couple can work together as a team, couples will saw logs after the service at the church. A log is set up on a sawhorse and the bride and groom must work together to saw through it. In Germany, legend has it that wedding guests throw grains of rice over the bride and groom, each grain of rice that lands in the bride’s hair symbolizes a future child!

Just like throwing the bride’s bouquet of flowers in the UK, German brides have a tradition of their own to show which is next to get married. As the newly weds dance underneath the bride’s veil which is held up by wedding guests, 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.

Spain

As expected, there are some differences between a Spanish and a UK wedding. As an example, they don’t have groomsmen, bridesmaids and the mother of the groom walks her son down the aisle. As well as having no speeches, the wedding rings are worn on the right hand instead of the traditional UK left hand.

As these are more modern times, Spain has seen an increase in brides wearing white lace maxi dresses and mantilla, a lace headdress. Whereas if you went back in time, Spanish brides often wore a black wedding dress and veil. 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.

A Spanish wedding often start early in the morning and goes until the early morning of the day after. 13 gold coins will be blessed by a priest which as the gifted to the bride, this act is said to bring the newly weds good fortune and show the groom his commitment and support towards the bride.

Orange blossom is a main feature in most Spanish weddings, it symbolizes purity. The friends of the bride will each receive a flower corsage, if worn upside down this shows that she is single, if this is lost during the wedding, it’s believed that she will be next to be married!

China

It is expected due to the large size of china that the bridal traditions can vary across the country.

Crying every day for a month is one of the most unique traditions in china which is carried out by Tujia brides. The bride’s mother and grandmother will join in on this tradition after 10 days of the bride crying, if other women join in on the daily crying it is seen and a sign of joy.

Of course, during the following tradition there is no harm towards the bride as each arrow will have its head removed before the wedding day. In Yugar, the grooms will shoot their new wife with an arrow. After the bride is shot at for the third time, the arrows are broken, showing that the couple will always love each other.

A “good luck woman” is present on the day of the wedding to help the bride prepare her hair for the big day. In hope to pass on the good fortune to the bride, the woman is considered lucky if she has living parents, a spouse and children.

The groom will collect the bride from her home on the morning of the wedding, he will be greeted there by the friends of the bride. The women will guard the door to the house, not allowing the groom to enter, he is there to prove his love for the bride through answering a series of questions about her or even by offering money in red envelopes to buy his way into the house.

Draped in god and silver embroidery, the brides of northern china will wear a Qi poa which is a red wedding dress. In southern China, brides wear a two-piece outfit — a Qun Gua, Kwa or Cheongsam — featuring a gold phoenix or dragon detailing.

To show family prosperity, the bride will be presented with a half-cooked dumpling on the wedding night. The dumpling shows this as the word raw is linked to child birth.

India

Similar to China, a wedding in India differs depending on the location of the wedding which means the bridal traditions are different to.

An Indian wedding is celebrated over several days, the bride will have more than one special day.

A Mehendi ceremony is a gathering of family and friends in which the complicated henna is applied to the bride, this happens the day before the wedding. It’s traditionally said that the color of the henna can indicate how the bride will get along with her mother-in-law and determines the bond between husband and wife. Hidden within the henna are the names of the happy couple and it’s often painted on the palms, hands, forearms and legs.

The brides in India don’t all wear the same outfit on their wedding day, it depends 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 color and her clothing is stitched with an outstanding design.

One of the most important parts of an Indian fire is the couple walking around the fire, the commitment becomes official when four verses are chanted while the couple walk four times around the fire. The husband and wife then race back to their seats, as the one who sits first is said to be the most dominant.  

Between being painted in henna to smashing fine china, it is clear that there are many traditions that are kept alive by the brides of the world. But, they’re all a celebration of love and happiness and are special in their own ways. Will you take any inspiration from these traditions for your special day?

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17 thoughts on “Bridal Traditions from Around the World

  1. How interesting. I was surprised by Chinese traditions. Shooting the bride with an arrow? That must require a lot of trust and courage. Two main things in a relationship, so I guess it makes sense but I wouldn’t do it. It’s always amusing to know about the cultures and traditions of other countries.

    1. Hi, thank you!
      I appreciate this but this is the second post of mine you’ve reposted in under a week, so please refrain from resharing more as it may give your readers the impression our sites are connected/ you have written the articles yourself 🙂

  2. Great post. We tend to live in our own bubble so much these days, and think that the rest of the world simply follows the same rules that we do. So it’s refreshing to find out about the varierty of things that go on out there, even when it comes to something like a wedding. 🙂

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