Ahead of the Royal Wedding – marriage traditions from around the world
With the Royal Wedding taking place this weekend – experts at language app Babbel (Babbel.com) have put together a list of marital traditions from ten countries around the world to give you some insider info on what you might expect should you find yourself at a wedding somewhere else in the world or simply looking for wedding inspiration.
Wherever you are in the world, weddings are always a day full of love, laughter, and celebration. While you will probably have attended enough weddings to know what to expect from the day, there are some wonderful country-specific traditions that you may not be familiar with if you have only been to a wedding in Australia.
The UK isn’t too far removed from Australian traditions but there are a few things you’ll notice being different.
As well as having a ‘hen party’ for the bride and a ‘stag do’ for the groom ahead of the ceremony to part the last night being single, it is tradition for the groom not to see the bride on the morning of the wedding. To do so is seen to be unlucky for the marriage!
It’s old time tradition for the bride and the bridesmaids to wear similar dresses on the big day – to prevent robbers and highwaymen recognise the bride and kidnapping her!
The bride will also follow the old-time rhyme in her dress code, ‘something old’ to symbolise continuity, ‘something new’ to show optimism for the future, ‘something borrowed’ to symbolise happiness and ‘something blue’ to show purity, love and fidelity
A sixpence in the shoe is often a tradition to wish the new couple good fortune – not sure if the Royals need this one!
Believe it or not, Germany has a number of unusual wedding traditions:
On the evening before the wedding, the family and friends of the bride and groom will gather together to break crockery – a tradition called ‘polterabend’. The couple will then clear up the crockery together as a symbol of togetherness, and to prove how they will work as a team.
In some regions of Germany, the bride can also find herself being ‘kidnapped’ by the wedding guests and brought to a ‘hiding place’. The groom is then sent out to find her, and free her by drinking schnapps and playing drinking games against her ‘captors’.
Italians love a good party, and a wedding is no exception.
Before arriving at the reception, guests will form a queue behind the lucky couple and use their horn (very loudly!) to celebrate the wedding.
The guests also have a part to play after the ceremony, when they will throw rice and flowers at the newlyweds to wish their marriage food and fertility.
Another thing that always has to be present at the wedding party is the ‘bomboniera’: a small present given to all guests, containing five white ‘confetti’, (sugared almonds) symbolising health, fertility, happiness, wealth and long life.
Weddings in Spain are traditionally a grand affair, but one thing the bride doesn’t have to agonise over is choosing bridesmaids as it is not custom to have them in Spain.
Just as it is tradition for a father to walk his daughter down the aisle, in Spain, the mother of the groom will walk her son down the aisle too.
These ties to family are also highlighted at the reception, where the top table will normally consist of only six seats. These are kept for the bride and her parents, and for the groom as his parents.
Portuguese weddings have many great traditions.
The bride typically will make the journey by foot to the ceremony, along with the whole wedding party.
Later on, the bride’s shoe will be passed around the guests, who will stuff it with money to help the young couple embark upon their new life together.
At the end of the evening, the bride and groom are expected to actually escape their wedding, with guests creating humorous obstacles!
‘Toastmasters’ (someone in charge of proceedings) are becoming more and more popular at weddings to keep the day flowing, but they are a staple in Swedish weddings.
One fun tradition at a Swedish wedding involves all of the men in attendance lining up to kiss the bride as soon as the groom leaves the room, and vice versa!
Russians don’t do things by half, and therefore it is not uncommon for a Russian wedding to last two days, or even a week!
Carried out in an entertaining way, on the morning of the wedding, upon arriving at the bride’s home, the groom is expected to pay a ‘ransom’ for his bride. He will present gifts, such as jewellery, to the family, until they are satisfied with what he has offered!
Like a Toastmaster, Russian weddings feature a ‘Tamada’ (or entertainer) who acts as a host, is in charge of games, and makes sure everything goes to plan.
In France, it is tradition for two weddings to take place, as only a civil ceremony carried out in the town hall of one of the bride or groom’s hometown, by the Mayor (or his deputy), is legally recognised.
The wedding ‘toast’ originated in France, as it is custom to literally place a small piece of toast into the couple’s glasses, which is supposed to ensure them a happy and healthy life together. It is also usual for them to have a ‘pièce montée’ in place of a wedding cake, which is a tower made up of small balls of pastry filled with cream.
Throwing confetti at a couple as they leave their wedding ceremony is common practice – usually these are small paper shapes or dried flowers. However, you might need to be more careful when throwing confetti at a Polish wedding, as it is tradition to throw a handful of coins at the happy couple!
If there’s one thing that Brazilians know how to celebrate, it’s a wedding.
Before the day itself, the bride will have the names of her bridesmaids sewn into the hem of her dress, as this will help them to find their own grooms in the near future.
The day itself is divided into three parts, marrying the couple twice over in one day.
The bride and groom form a union both in the eyes of the law at the civil service, and in the church at the religious service, all topped off with an appropriately sized reception to match!