Marriage is special no matter the country. However, different cultures have their own unique ways of preparing for and celebrating the happy couple’s nuptials.
When it comes to German wedding traditions, many of them begin before the big day starts! 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.
It’s an interesting way how they send their invites out too. 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!
It’s compulsory for German couples to have a civil ceremony in 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.
If they do decide to have a ceremony in a church, it’s traditional for a Polterabend to take place a few days after. 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.
Then, after the church service, some German newlyweds are asked to saw logs. 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!
For the romantic first dance, the bride’s veil is held up and the happy couple 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.
The ceremony and traditions are a little different in Spain. 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.
At one time in Spain, the wedding dresses and veil were actually made from black lace! 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 not uncommon for a wedding in this country to begin in the early evening and continue into the early hours. 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.
One of the most important parts of a Spanish wedding is the flowers. 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!
Due to the vast size of China, wedding traditions are different in each region.
One weird tradition is with Tujia brides. They must cry for an hour a day every day for a month in the run-up to their wedding. 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.
For those in the Yugar culture, the brides are shot by their grooms 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.
On the big day a ‘good luck woman’ arrives to help the bride do her hair. 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.
As part of the fun, the bride’s friends block the groom’s entry to her home. He 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.
You can expect brides from northern China to traditionally wear a red dress or Qi Pao, embroidered with gold and silver detailing. In southern China, brides wear a two-piece outfit — a Qun Gua, Kwa or Cheongsam — featuring a gold phoenix or dragon detailing.
After the wedding, 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.
Similar to in China, Indian wedding traditions differ depending on the region. 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 takes place before 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.
What the bride chooses to wear depends on where she 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.
One of the most important parts of the ceremony is the walk around the fire. 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.
All of these traditions are a celebration of love and happiness! Will you take any inspiration from these traditions for your special day?