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wedding home > unique wedding ideas > themes & style > cultural wedding traditions and customs

Cultural Wedding Traditions and Customs

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What is the “perfect wedding”? There are countless wedding planning kits out there complete with a checklist to help guide couples through the process. Though useful as a general guideline, checklists can hinder the imagination and they typically do not account for different cultural/religious traditions that might be important to the couple. 

Many brides and grooms would love to marry in the tradition of their ancestors or at least introduce elements of a traditional wedding ceremony or reception from their cultural backgrounds.  Incorporating cultural wedding traditions and customs to a wedding is not only a fantastic way to share something personal with the guests but a nice tribute to the families.

A simple way to infuse a little culture is by using traditional wedding decorations, wedding supplies and other visual elements.  A little more difficult is serving a traditional meal, because in many cases the menu is limited by the venue.  If having a customized menu is not possible, try serving signature drinks like sake for a Japanese reception or chai instead of coffee for an Indian wedding.  Music and entertainment are easy areas to help set the mood.

Needless to say, the stars of the wedding are the bride and groom. Isn't it only natural to showcase their lives, and spotlight their love? The most memorable weddings will touch the hearts of those in attendance and make even the most distant relative and that friend of a friend of a friend feel as if they've known you all their lives.

The wedding doesn't have to be small and exclusive to be intimate and personal. Even the smallest attention to detail and thinking outside the box can turn a typical wedding into a unique experience that leaves an impression. The following cultural wedding traditions are examples of some of the ways couples all over the world join in matrimony.  Let them be a starting point for you to think about how you can make your wedding truly unforgettable.

Cultural Customs & Traditions by Country:

African French Japanese
Armenian German Korean
Chinese Greek Spanish/ Latin-American
Czech Republic Indian Scottish
Dutch Irish Swedish
Filipino Italian Vietnamese

African Wedding Traditions

You may have heard of "jumping the broom." It is a tradition stemming back to the days of slavery when slaves were forbidden from marrying. They created this ritual to represent the beginning of their new life together. In modern ceremonies, couples jump over a broom, often decorated with ribbon and tulle... read more>>

Armenian Wedding Traditions

The Armenian wedding celebration begins the night before the ceremony when the groom’s family brings beautifully wrapped gift boxes to the bride’s family. These contain the veil, her shoes, chocolate, Armenian cognac, perfume... read more>>

Chinese Wedding Traditions

The wedding date is picked carefully according to astrological signs and birthdates, and the ceremony begins on the half hour to cement the couple’s good fortune. The night before the wedding day, the bride is bathed in citrus-infused water to cleanse her of evil influences... read more>>

Czech Republican Wedding Traditions

Traditionally the bridesmaids make a wreath of rosemary for the bride to wear—it symbolizes the wish for wisdom, love, and loyalty. In the Czech Republic the tradition of wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue is strictly followed; however, the borrowed item must belong to a friend who is already married and the something old must be a family heirloom... read more>>

Dutch Wedding Traditions

A wonderful Dutch custom that can be substituted for the guest book is to create a wedding "wish tree." At the reception a beautiful tree branch is placed next to the bride and groom's table, and paper leaves attached to pieces of colorful ribbon are placed at each guest's place setting. Guests write their special wish for the happy couple on their leaves, which the bride and groom can then read and hang on the tree... read more>>

Filipino Wedding Traditions

Traditionally the groom’s family pays for the wedding and the grandparents act as the primary witnesses or sponsors. The bride’s gown is often custom made and both the bride and groom wear white. It is bad luck for the bride to try on her dress before the wedding day and to wear pearl jewelry, which is considered a bad omen. The groom wears a sheer, long-sleeve button-up shirt (barong tagalog) that is worn un-tucked over black pants with a white t-shirt underneath... read more>>

French Wedding Traditions

The groom customarily walks his mother down the aisle before arriving at the alter to be married. This is a lovely gesture that can be easily adopted and will surely elicit a collective "aww" from the audience... read more>>

German Wedding Traditions

Breaking dishes, pots, or anything that will break into pieces and then cleaning it up together is said to bring good luck to the bride and groom just before the wedding. The idea is to prepare the bride and groom for facing life's trials... read more>>

Greek Wedding Traditions

Even before the betrothal, the mother of the bride usually spends years collecting various household items for her daughter’s dowry. When the dowry has been presented to the couple, local girls volunteer to set up and decorate... read more>>

Indian Wedding Traditions

Indian weddings are traditionally multi-day affairs, and involve many intricate ceremonies, such as the painting of the hands and feet of the bride called a mehndi. Garlands are presented to guests of honor instead of corsages, and lots of flower or rose petals are thrown for good... read more>>

Irish Wedding Traditions

The night before the wedding, the groom would be invited to the bride’s house, where a cooked goose would be served in his honor. A sunny wedding day meant good luck, and one way to insure it would be a fine day was to place a statue of the Infant of Prague outside the church before the ceremony... read more>>

Italian Wedding Traditions

During the proposal, a groom will typically serenade her first and then present her with a diamond ring because of the belief that a diamond was created by the flames of love... read more>>

Japanese Wedding Traditions

The Japanese ritual of "san-san-kudo", the three by three exchange is rich with meaning. It is performed by the bride and groom and both sets of parents; each person takes 3 sips of sake from each of 3 cups. The first 3 represent three couples, the bride and groom, and their parents. The second 3 represent three human flaws: hatred, passion, and ignorance. "Ku", or 9 is a lucky number in Japanese culture. And "do" means deliverance from the three flaws... read more>>

Korean Wedding Traditions

Before the wedding takes place, a bride must participate in a traditional introduction ceremony where she is accepted into... read more>>

Spanish / Latin-American Wedding Traditions

Spanish culture is filled with rich traditions. Historically, the night before the wedding, hand lanterns were used to light the way from the groom’s home to the bride's home. The groom's family would then carry a wedding chest filled with gifts for the bride's family... read more>>

Scottish Wedding Traditions

During the engagement, Scottish brooches (Luckenbooth) are given as tokens of love and they are usually made of silver and engraved with two intertwined hearts. If the couple pins it to the blanket of their first born it will bring... read more>>

Swedish Wedding Traditions

An old and adorable Swedish custom is for the bride to carry coins in her shoes. One silver coin in her left shoe from her father, and one gold coin in her right from her mother are used to ensure that she will never go without... read more>>

Vietnamese Wedding Traditions

It is customary for the mother-in-law to bestow upon the bride pink chalk, which symbolizes a rosy future for the couple. The date and time of the ceremony is usually determined by a Buddhist monk or fortune teller... read more>>

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