When it comes to tying the knot, men and women all over the world celebrate in various ways. Though we often associate the white wedding gown, many tiered cake and a bouquet as a given at weddings, this may not necessarily be the case of weddings around the world.
Weddings are important life events wherein differences in culture can really come into play. From the day of the week to get married, to what to wear, different cultures celebrate weddings in different ways. Here’s a glimpse of how couples tie the knot all over the world.
Choosing the date
Most couples oftentimes choose their wedding date based on practical concerns such as the availability of the banquet hall, the season or some base it on a meaningful date, such as an anniversary of a special occasion.
In Mexico and the United States, a summer wedding is most ideal. This is also the case in Sweden, since this is the time of year when the country gets the most daylight hours. In Morocco, brides and grooms prefer the fall season.
In China, the wedding date will be chosen based on the astrologer’s reading of the bride and groom’s charts, which is based on their date and hour of birth. The astrologer will determine the most auspicious date for the couple to ensure prosperity and good health.
What day to get married
In Morocco, most weddings are performed in the fall season on a Sunday. It is timed towards the harvest season, which makes sense since what is harvested is often what is served at the wedding feast.
Sunday is also the favored wedding day for couples in Italy. Getting married on Fridays and Tuesdays is avoided because it’s considered bad luck. Widows who are getting married the second time around often choose Saturdays for their second wedding.
However, in many other cultures, the wedding isn’t celebrated on just one day, since it can take an entire week to commemorate the occasion. In Sweden, the wedding feasts lasts three days, while in India, it is a weeklong celebration.
Here comes the bride
The splashy white wedding gown evolved from Queen Victoria during the Victorian ages, as a symbol of purity. However, not all brides wear white.
In China, the bride wears a cheongsam or qipao in a bright red silk fabric. For the Chinese, the color red is a lucky color. The long dress covers everything except for the woman’s head, hands and toes. At the reception, the qipao is discarded and two other outfits are worn, in a display of the wealth of the bride’s family. The second gown is a white western wedding gown, and this is later followed by a modern cocktail dress.
Red is also the color of choice for many Islamic brides. A ghara is worn by the bride, while the groom opts for a shewani, which is worn with a turban.
In India, part of the bride’s couture is the mehendi. This is an intricate henna tattoo design that adorns the hands and feet of the bride. A Mehendi Ceremony is even done and is performed at the bride’s home with all her female friends. A similar tradition is also performed by Moroccan brides, but the henna tattoos are done in various colors such as yellow to ward off evil and green for good fortune.
Japanese brides wear white from head to toe, and even their faces are painted white as a symbol of purity. A white kimono is also worn. Instead of a veil, a white headpiece or white hood is worn to represent the bride’s resolve to become an obedient wife and is a symbol of hiding the jealousy she may feel towards her husband’s mother. During the reception, the bride will change into a red kimono, followed by a more western attire.
In the Philippines, the bride’s veil is pinned to the shoulder of the groom, as a symbol of the unity of the couple.
In India, a Var Mala Ceremony is performed as part of the wedding day celebration. The couple places flower garlands around each other as a symbol of the bride’s acceptance of the groom as her mate. This is similar to weddings in Hawaii, wherein leis or flower garlands are worn by the bride and groom. The leis are seen as symbols of respect and love.
In Wales, brides must have myrtle in their wedding bouquet, as this flower is a symbol of love. Cuttings of the myrtle plant are also given to the bridesmaids to plant with the belief that if the cuttings bloom, that bridesmaid may soon become a bride herself.
Swedish brides have a bouquet of weeds, since the smell is considered to ward off trolls.
The wedding cake
In Norway, the wedding cake is called kransekake, which is made of bread, cheese, syrup and cream. For Russian couples, it is believed that whoever takes the biggest bite out of the Karavay or wedding bread will become the head of the household.
Peruvian wedding cakes have charms attached to ribbons, which the single ladies pull out believing that whoever pulls out the ribbon with the fancy wedding ring is the next bride to be.
Gifts for the bride and groom
Not everyone goes for the bridal registry like they do in America. In Italy, money is given to the newlywed couple in a special satin bag called la borsa. Zulu brides are offered a cow slaughtered by the groom’s family. In Fiji, the groom gifts his father in law with a whale’s tooth as a symbol of wealth.
In the Philippines, the bride and groom celebrate a wedding dance wherein the guests take turns dancing with the couple after pinning bills of money on the garments of the couple. A money dance is also performed by Cuban and Greek couples, with the money pinned on the couple intended to pay for the honeymoon.
There is a similar custom of this done in Hungary. The male guests at the reception hand the bride a coin and in return, the bride thanks the guest with a kiss. Younger guests modify the tradition by handing the bride a chocolate coin instead.