Wedding traditions from around the world


When it comes to the big day, different cultures have their own traditions and customs that are still being observed today. Here are a few from various parts of the world.

Where: China
What: Cry… buckets of tears
In China, there is a tradition where a bride cries for a month before she is married. The Tujia people who live in the Wuling Mountains observe the custom of ‘Zuo Tang’ (sitting in the hall) which means the bride begins to cry one month before the wedding day. At sundown, the bride walks into the hall and weeps for an hour. Ten days later, her mother joins her and cries with her, and then the bride’s sisters and aunts join them. This ritual known as a crying marriage, is a matrimonial custom that is observed by every Tujia girl.

Where: Russia
What: Bread with a meaning
In Russia, during the wedding celebration, the bride and groom are offered Kaaravai bread with salt by the groom’s parents to wish them good and prosperous marriage. This also symbolizes their acceptance of the bride into their family, as well as prosperity and a long, healthy life. The couple then break the loaf into two, and as the guests file into the hall, each person takes a piece of bread from either the bride or groom. Bread and salt have always been a significant part of Russian life. Bread in Russia symbolizes fullness and wealth and salt is highly valued, with some people believing that salt offers protection from evil forces.

Where: Finland
What: The gift collector
In Finland, before the wedding the bride will go from door-to-door with a pillowcase to receive wedding gifts. Sometimes, an older, married man accompanies her and he holds an umbrella or parasol over her head to shelter her. This is seen as a symbol of protection and shelter for the bride. At some weddings, the bride’s mother-in-law will put a china plate on top of her head when the newlyweds begin their wedding dance, which is usually a waltz. After the plate falls, the pieces of broken china foretell the number of children the couple can expect to have.

Where: Germany
What: Saw through a wooden log together
The cutting of the log represents the first obstacle that the couple must overcome during their marriage. When the couple leaves the church they will find a log on a sawhorse, and using a large saw with two handles the couple saw through the log together. This shows their guests their willingness to master the difficulties that will arise in a marriage.

Where: Mexico
What: Show me… 13 gold coins!
Couples in Mexico still practice the custom of Las arras, or Las arras matrimoniales, which means wedding tokens or unity coins. 13 gold coins are presented to the priest by one of the couple’s friends or relatives. The priest will then bless the coins, before handing them to the bride who then puts them in the groom’s cupped hands at the beginning of the wedding ceremony. The coins are then put on a tray where they stay until later in the ceremony. Towards the end of the marriage ceremony the box and coins are given back to the priest who places the coins in the box and hands them to the groom. The groom then puts the coins into the bride’s cupped hands and places the box on top of them. The tokens are thirteen gold coins which are said to represent Christ and the 12 apostles, and are a symbol of the groom’s vow to look after his bride, while her acceptance of the coins is acknowledgement that she trusts her husband to do this.

Where: South Korea
What: Catch a duck
Before a Korean wedding, the groom-to-be would purchase pairs of live ducks or geese to give as a gift to the family of his bride. Before the ceremony begins the ducks are wrapped in cloth leaving only the necks and heads exposed. After the couple is pronounced husband and wife, the mother of the groom tosses the female duck to her daughter-in-law. If she catches the duck in her bridal apron then her first child will be a boy, and if she misses it will be a girl.