World’s Weirdest Wedding Customs

June 11, 2008

All over the world, people practice numerous wedding customs that have been passed on through many generations. Although each has a long history of meaning and significance, many just seem strange and out of place in today’s culture. Are they just opportunities to playfully scam the bride and groom?

Check out some of the historical wedding customs that are still practiced today, much to the intrigue and wonderment of its audience.

Blackening the Bride

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In the Scottish pre-wedding tradition of “Blackening the Bride,” The bride is taken by surprise and covered with foul substances, such as eggs, various sauces, feathers, and well you name it…

The bride to be, officially blackened, is the then paraded around town, and of course a few pubs, for all to see.

Filmed in Fraserburgh and Rosehearty, in the north east of Scotland in 2007. A bride to be is subjected to a traditional ‘blackening’, one of the strangest of all pre-wedding traditions.

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Broken Dishes, Kidnapping the Bride, and Log Sawing

Broken Dishes

A rather interesting German tradition involves shattering a large number of dishes before the wedding and having the bride and groom cleaned it up.

It is believed that the action of cleaning up the mass collection of broken dishes, which the family and friends have worked so hard to make, will help prepare the couple for their new lives together.

It might be a little destructive but everyone seems to enjoy themselves and like most customs, bring the couple good luck.

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Kidnapping the Bride

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In many small villages throughout Germany, friends of the bride and groom will kidnap the bride and hide her somewhere.The groom then has to search to find her.

Of course the search always begins in the local pub, for obvious reasons, where the groom will invite everyone to join him in the search, after buying them all a drink.

This ritual has been known to end badly. . .

Log Sawing

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Log sawing is just another tradition that seems to really test the bride and grooms physical skills.

After the couple are married, a log is positioned between two sawhorses where both the newlyweds must saw in half working together.

This is supposedly a sign of how they will handle things together once they are married.

Germans also wear their matching wedding bands on their right hands not their left.

The couple in this first video obviously have some challenges to look forward to in married like.

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However, this bride and groom are going to live happy and in perfect harmony with one another.

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Mehndi, Steal the Groom’s Shoes, and the Coin Game

Mehndi

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Indian weddings, which are traditionally multi-day affairs, involve many intricate ceremonies, such as “medhndi”, the practice of painting intricate patterns on the bride’s hands and feet.

The idea is to make the bride feel like a princess as she is about to start a new life.

As the video below shows, there is also a special dance and song associated with the Mehndi process.

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Stealing the Groom’s Shoes

It might seem odd, but in this custom everyone is either out to steal the groom’s shoes or protect them.

During the ceremony the groom has to remove his shoes prior to entering the alter to be married. Members of the bride’s family are obligated to try to steal the grooms shoes and will go to great lengths to do so. The groom’s family, on the other hand, must protect the shoes and they will also go to extreme measures in order to hide the shoes.

If the bride’s family is successful in stealing the groom’s shoes, then the groom must pay whatever amount of money they request to get his shoes back.

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Coin Game

526166439_c21c8df3d81.jpg The Coin Game occurs after the wedding festivities, when the bride and groom go to the groom’s parents’ house.

Coins and other items are placed into a large bowl filled with red colored water tinted with sindoor.

The newlyweds place both hands in the bowl in an attempt to retrieve a particular item.

This is done repeatedly and the one who pulls out the most specified items is fated to be the ruler of their home.

Coins and Kissing the Guests

Coins in the Bride’s Shoes

gold-and-silver-coin-prices-7867651.jpgAn old, adorable Swedish custom is for the bride to carry coins in her shoes.

A silver coin from her father is placed in the left shoe, while a gold coin from her mother in the right shoe, ensuring she will never go without.

Guest Kissers

kissingthebride.jpgAt Swedish wedding receptions, guests may get an opportunity to kiss the bride or groom.
If the bride goes to the restroom, all of the women at the reception line up to kiss the groom.

If the groom exits the room and is out of sight, the men line up to kiss the bride.

Clanging Pots and Pans

potsandpans.jpgThe French have an interesting after-wedding tradition known as Chiverie.

During this traditional prank, friends and family of the newly married couple gather in the evening and clang pots and pans, ring bells, and blow horns intended to startle and interrupt the couple.

Upon hearing the noise, the newlyweds are to come out, still wearing their wedding attire, and provide their tormenters various refreshments.

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Jumping the Broom

African Americans embrace the “Jumping the broom” ritual. Its origin is a little vague, but its meaning is agreed as the beginning of the newlyweds creating their happy home.
623201xo1.jpgThe “Jumping the Broom” is a ceremony in which the bride and groom, either at the ceremony or at the reception, signify their entrance into a new life and their creation of a new family by symbolically “sweeping away” their former single lives, former problems and concerns, and jumping over the broom to enter upon a new adventure as wife and husband.

This “leap” into a new life (marriage as wife and husband is performed in the presence of families and friends. You can be as creative as you want when planning for this special ceremony.

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Couples celebrate this rich cultural heritage, irrespective of race, religion, and nationality. The most important thing is its significance;

  • Honoring and respect of your ancestors, their legacy, and your rich African and African American heritage.
  • Coming together of both families, and commitment to each other as wife and husband.
  • It represents strength, love, togetherness, loyalty, and respect which is essential for a successful marriage.

This ceremony can also be performed at an anniversary or a renewing of vows ceremony.

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Iron, Veil, and a Shattered Vase

brokenvase.jpg In Italy it was customary for the groom to carry a talisman, piece of iron, in his pocket on the day of his wedding. The talisman was believed to ward off misfortune, while the bride’s veil covered and protected her from evil spirits.

When the wedding day came to an end, the newly married couple would shatter a vase or glass into many pieces. The number of pieces represented the expected number of years they would be happily married.

Arras

In Mexico, during the wedding the Groom bestows his bride a gift of 13 coins, or arras, representing Jesus and his 12 apostles. The coins are to be blessed by the priest and bear the groom’s promise to care for and provide for his wife.

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Both Feet on the Floor

In the old days of Ireland, couples dined on salt and oatmeal at the beginning of their reception: both the bride and groom would take three mouthfuls as a protection against the power of the evil eye.

During the reception, when the couple is dancing, the brides feet must remain on the floor. It is said that Fairies love beautiful things and their favorite beautiful thing is a bride. If the bride was to have even one foot off the ground, then she could be swept away by the Fairies.

It is bad luck for a bride, as well as anyone attending the wedding, to wear green at an Irish wedding. It’s also bad luck for a bride or the groom to sing at their own wedding. Of course that last one might have just resulted from a few too many weddings with bad singers…

Comments

27 Responses to “World’s Weirdest Wedding Customs”

  1. gwb/nyc on June 17th, 2008 11:37 am

    “The French have an interesting after-wedding tradition known as Chiverie.”

    these were also held in the rural south and frontier America, Chiveries were held as late as the early teens of the 20th century- very raucous affairs that went on all night.

  2. wolf on June 17th, 2008 11:50 am

    All cases of breaking dishes, et., have been adopted from the Jews having lived among the various countries and population for hundreds of years. The Jews break dishes or glass twice at the wedding ceremony. The first time is when the marriage contract is written, symbolizing there is no going back. They are broken by both motheri-nlaws. The second time is at the end of the wedding ceremony, by the groom, in rememberance of the destruction of the holy temple in Jerusalem.

  3. Charles Crowley on June 17th, 2008 10:33 pm

    The “Shivaree” custom, I’ve also seen it spelled “Charivari”, persisted in rural and backwoods areas of the American South into the 20th century. Incidentally I saw on a website of traditional circus lingo that a noisy entrance of clowns is called a “Chivarie”.

  4. mojoe on June 18th, 2008 8:44 am

    You left out one of our (American?) customs, the groom carrying the bride across the threshold.

  5. mojoe on June 18th, 2008 8:45 am

    And the “something old, something new, something borrowed…”

    I’d like to know where these customs came from.

  6. Michael A Spudich on June 19th, 2008 5:57 am

    THE IMPORTANCE OF BRIDESMAIDS AND USHERS
    The presence of bridesmaids and ushers dates back to when marriage by kidnapping was the norm. He usually took a few good men to fight off her brothers and other suitors. She usually plotted with her girlfriends to make sure she was kidnapped by the right man. Bridesmaids and groomsmen sometimes literally had to defend the happy couple against real-life thugs and warriors.

    THE BEST MAN
    The best man dates back to 200 AD in northern Europe. Bachelor men would sneak around nearby communities to steal an unsuspecting bride. Their best man served to guard the couple during the wedding ceremony - to ensure that the bride’s family could not take her back.

    THE WEDDING VEIL
    The origin of the wedding veil is unclear but it is thought that it predates the wedding dress by centuries. The bridal veil is descendant from two sources. A woman’s face that was covered by a veil meant that she was spoken for. A veil was used to disguise the bride so that she would not be recognized by the evil spirits wishing to harm the vulnerable bridal couple. Ancient Greek and Roman veils were flame red, while early Christians chose white or purple. Over the years, the meaning of the veil has changed. Today it reflects modesty, obedience, chastity, youth and virginity.

  7. mario on June 19th, 2008 8:50 am

    check wedding custom at Montenegro; of their bestmen!!

  8. Enid Buttfield on June 19th, 2008 10:58 am

    When I married my late husband Ernie, he told me it was a family tradition to take the bride up the aisle on the wedding night. of course, being a very young girl with traditional values I had no idea what this tradition might entail. Suffice it to say although I was very nervous on my wedding night, the many times Ernie took me up the aisle in our forty years of marriage were a delight and a treat to be sure

  9. bombchell on June 19th, 2008 12:28 pm

    Aww the kissing one is the cutest. wonder if any ex’s have done something naughty.

  10. caye on June 21st, 2008 6:18 am

    The arras are actually an arabic tradition that has continued in Spain (and from Spain it was exported to Mexico), and the 13 coins symbolize the riches that the groom provides for the bride: 1 for each 12 months of the year, and 1 more to share with the poor.

  11. jb on June 24th, 2008 8:38 pm

    In China the men on the Bride’s side will block entry to the brides home…the groom and his men will attempt to gain access by singing songs pleading and trying to show how much he loves her…once entry is granted, the groom will have a meeting with her parents (the bride will be locked in another room with her girls and they will block that door)…same thing will happen until she comes out…they will both go meet with both sets of parents and exchange flowers etc…

    then they will be in transit to the reception place…where the real party happens!

  12. Zyder on June 26th, 2008 11:53 am

    in spain, the “arras” is very typical too.

    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arras

    see “arras matrimoniales”

  13. Drydrola on August 2nd, 2008 11:08 pm

    Thanks !

  14. Name (required) on October 1st, 2008 3:37 pm

    I attended a Korean wedding a few years back. The bride’s brothers grabbed the groom at the reception, hoisted him up and yanked of his shoes. Then the bride’s family caned the soles of his feet.

    Of course, everybody was drunk and laughing.

  15. Jes on October 1st, 2008 4:07 pm

    The Philippines takes the Spanish “arras” tradition also. They have “Veil, Cord, Coins and Candle” where a veil goes over either both or only the bride, and then are tied together by the cord, have the coin exchange (I’ve seen it before, during and after the veil and cord), and then lighting the candle. Some of this gets tied into Catholic (like Mexico and Spain).

  16. Bong Bong on October 1st, 2008 5:02 pm

    The german tradition of breaking dishes (real china preferrably) signifies breaking up with your old lives and begin anew with the wedding. It’s also thought as preventive, the couple has broken dishes, so they don’t need to break some when they’re fighting.

    There’s another (perhaps only northern) german tradition. One of the brides relatives acts as “Kössenbitter”. Dressed up with a tux and a top hat, he delivers the wedding invitations. Tradition demands, the invitees have to tip him and drink one shot of schnapps for the bride and one for the groom with him. Delivering the invitations usually takes several days this way…

  17. John on October 1st, 2008 7:52 pm

    Note the phonic similarity of chiverie (originally “charivari”) to the French pronunciation of “Charles Bovary,” a famously inept husband in a particularly chaotic marriage….

  18. Aleksy on October 2nd, 2008 7:08 am

    Nice post. Good to know different customs as I work as a wedding photographer.

  19. Name (required) on October 2nd, 2008 8:23 am

    @John That is extremely tenuous

  20. Eapen Kuruvilla on October 2nd, 2008 10:48 pm

    I (from south India) as boy was shocked when one of my uncles, representing groom’s side, complained about the wedding party food sponsered by the brides side. I was shocked becaouse the food was great and he was a high school principal.

    Then I found that it is south Indian custom that the groom’s side always complain about the party food sponserd by the brides side irrespective of the quality of the food.

  21. Svara on October 26th, 2008 3:01 pm

    I especially loved watching the first henna video here. I’ve applied henna art before on kids and it’s not easy. It takes a lot of patience and in most cases before it even dries the kids cannot sit still long enough before it gets ruined.

    Scotland on the other hand has a strange tradition that I’d never heard about before!

    Great Post!

  22. Sadique on November 13th, 2008 3:37 am

    There are some other Indian subcontinent customs:

    a) The bride will throw away some food on the door of her house
    b) The bride will not look backwards when leaving the house
    c) There is a gate money that needs to be paid by the groom to gain access to the bride.
    d) The groom will not look directly to the bride. Instead a mirror will be used. He will be asked “what do you see”. He has to say: Fairy!
    e) The bride and groom will share same sweet drink and share sweets. This will increase the love among them.
    f) No kissing or unwanted touching! The groom can touch the bride only to put the ring on.
    g) There is a Mehedi (Hena) or Holud (Termaric) ceremony prior to the wedding.

  23. Antares on February 6th, 2009 3:33 am

    The German tradition of breaking dishes is called “Polterabend” and it’s to scare away the poltergeists.

  24. rabbi on March 23rd, 2009 4:16 pm

    one of the many wedding traditions in the Lubavitch Chassidic sect of Orthodox Judaism is for the groom to come to the ceremony without any knots on his clothing. he unties his tie, shoelaces and any other knots on his clothing as a sign against “knots” or difficulties in the marriage.

  25. rubina on January 5th, 2010 6:18 pm

    nice to learn about so many traditions.
    One we have in North India is -when the bride comes to her Groom’s house,the sisters of the grrom stop her from enerying the house.They all line up infront of the door.The grrom has to bribe his sisters to let them in.So Money is the main interest for the sisters.

  26. Amber on July 20th, 2010 2:03 pm

    Lots of people forget the last part of “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…” It’s “…and a six-pence for your shoe.” I have no idea why. My grandma has been saving my six-pence longer than there was a me to save it for!

  27. jolie on March 10th, 2011 11:59 am

    thats amazing

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