All over this big beautiful planet of ours weddings are celebrated in a great variety of ways. There are many traditions, but most are centered around the idea of a new beginning and a new journey down the path of life together. Here is a look at cultural wedding traditions in many different countries.
Which tradition would you embrace?
A song called the Ahesta Boro, which means walk slowly, is sung to signify the arrival of the happy couple.
It’s a celebration lasting as long as seven days. Everything about the traditional Albanian wedding is of epic proportions.
Celebrations start weeks before the wedding. They believe that the more money that is spent on the wedding, the more proud the family should be.
The extravagance of an Argentinean wedding is reflected through elegant attire, tango and samba.
The abundance of guests at Armenian wedding is a must.
The whole village is invited and no one goes home before dark. The wedding director is the most important person of the wedding ceremony. He keeps the party live at all times.
Being invited to a wedding in Azerbaijan usually means an invitation to an evening dinner party, not a ceremony where vows are exchanged.
A traditional wedding in Bahrain is not about the happy couple, it is about the food and the gathering, a competition in which the family strives to accommodate the needs of guests, to feed and entertain them.
A Bangladeshi wedding is a three day affair and full of amusement.
A ceremonial towel plays an important part. Gifts are wrapped in a towel. Also, tying of members of the groom’s family to members of the bride’s family using towels – symbolizing the uniting of the two families.
Bhutanese wedding includes a lot of religious rites performed by Buddhist monks and lamas. This represents the importance of the bond between a husband and wife.
The happy couple’s heads are doused with confetti and flower petals after the wedding ceremony a merging of families and form the basis of the couple’s life together.
A traditional Brunei Malay wedding is not for the fainthearted and is big business.
Bulgarian wedding rituals are concerned with ensuring a successful and fertile marriage. The consummation of the marriage on the wedding day becomes an act of magic.
A bride gets plenty of gifts which are displayed in the front room of the house for every one to see. Throughout the wedding ceremony gifts are displayed in the bride’s home.
Burmese weddings are not just an announcement of marriage but also an announcement of the economic positions of the families.
Dozens of family members (usually women) wear extravagant dresses and head pieces made from the bride and groom’s selected wedding pattern.
Traditional Cambodian wedding ceremony will take place continuously for three days and three nights.
Before the happy couple is pronounced husband and wife, the families must first discuss how much the bride is worth. Sounds familiar? No? Just remember Charlotte York (Sex and the City).
There is youthfulness both in their treats and dances.
A Chinese bride is presented to the groom’s family in a red wedding carriage.
The Serenata is a pre-wedding tradition in Colombia in which the groom surprises the bride with a serenade. This often happens after she has gone to sleep. Is this romantic or what?
Traditional clothes, merriment, dance – beautiful!
Costa Rican Wedding
Family is one of the most important elements of Costa Rican weddings.
The wedding procession is a magnificent moment. It’s a tradition which is still live in some smaller villages.
Bride’s friends sneak into her yard to plant a tree and decorate it with ribbons and painted eggshells. Legend says the bride will live as long as the tree.
According to the Djibouti culture of marriage, a man may take more than one wife, but should not exceed the limit of four.
After the wedding, the newlyweds plant lilies of the valley around their house to symbolize the return of happiness and with each season their love would be renewed.
A celebratory wedding procession accompanies the big day.
A traditional Egyptian Wedding can never be without a Zaffa, a parade of belly dancers and drummers surrounding the happy couple, singing happy songs.
The splendor of a traditional wedding in United Arab Emirates is hard to portray in mere words. Some say that it’s like being in the 80s film Mannequin.
One of the most interesting things about the traditional wedding ceremony in Eritrea is the custom of an open door policy. Anyone who passes by is welcome to attend it. How cool is that?
On reaching the bride’s home, the groom and his friends are met by the bride and her friends at the entrance beating drums. This is done to prevent the groom from accessing her home until he parts with the dowry.
On the beach, a Fijian wedding is pure heaven.
The tinikling is one of the most popular of traditional Philippine dances.
Image below shows a wedding of a small minority group in Finland who are culturally Swedish.
In some French towns, the groom may meet the bride at her home on the day of the wedding and escort her to the chapel where the wedding is being held.
The wedding in Gambia is simple yet joyful.
In Georgia there has existed the concept of the unification of two families every since ancient times. A bride was chosen depending on which family she belonged to.
Log-sawing is the most interesting German wedding tradition. It’s done after the wedding ceremony and it’s supposed to show how the happy couple will manage to accomplish tough tasks in the future.
Gift giving is an important part of the wedding ceremony.
The groom arrives first in church and waits for bride. She is usually late.
There’s certainly no need for horse-drawn carriage – the bride knows how to ride the horse!
The headdress of bride at traditional Hungarian wedding is quite special. It has strands of wheat woven in the hair. These strands are symbols of fertility.
A traditional Icelandic wedding is supposed to have two weeks of pre-wedding activities to be culminated in the wedding ceremony.
A bride wears a traditional Indian red wedding dress.
In Indonesia, women dancers balance flickering candles on saucer plates in their arms, as they glide through the room to the rhythm of the music. This candle dance, or “Tari Lilin, is a symbol of how the happy couple can achieve their aspirations of married life together.
A scarf or shawl made out of silk or any other fine fabric is held over the bride and groom’s head by a few unmarried female relatives.
Italian weddings are huge!
One of many interesting customs is the ritual of drinking nine cups of sake during the ceremony.
No Jewish wedding is complete without the Hora, or chair dance.
The custom of the bride wearing hanbok and groom wearing gwanbok dates back two millenniums.
The bride has her face painted to prevent bad luck during the ceremony.
For the wedding ceremony the traditional yurt has been set up on the courtyard, in which bride’s aunts prepared her for the wedding. They unbraided her forty braids, which are traditionally worn by unmarried Kyrgyz girls, and braided her hair into two braids.
A Lebanese wedding isn’t a Lebanese wedding if there’s no zaffeh. Zaffeh is accompanying the groom as he leaves his parents’ house to meet with the bride in a wedding ceremony.
In ancient Lithuania, a colorful sashes were symbolic gifts, especially at weddings.
A wedding is a time to show off wealth. It’s part of the culture to have huge, lavish wedding ceremonies.
From the hand-twisted red fringe all the way to the tiny embroidered crosses on the chemise, traditional Macedonian wedding attire brims with symbolism and hope for the future.
A traditional Malaysian wedding is a formal event whose main focus is more on guests than on the bride and groom.
In some parts of Mali, bride is not supposed to look happy out of respect to her family. To do so would mean she is happy to leave her family.
In a traditional Maltese wedding the bridal party walks in procession beneath an ornate canopy, from the home of the bride’s family to the parish church, with singers trailing behind serenading the happy couple.
A traditional Moroccan bride wears an elaborate kaftan (front-buttoned overdress, usually reaching to the ankles, with long sleeves) and heavy jewelry.
Photo: Marios Savva
One of the most interesting customs is the traditional Mexican wedding dance where the groom and bride dance together, and then “tie the knot.”
Bride wears a traditional red wedding gown.
Bright colors are a must at Namibian weddings.
One of the important events in a traditional Nepali wedding is that the groom puts a pinch of red-colored powder on the bride’s forehead. This symbolizes that they are now married.
New Zealand Wedding (Maori)
A traditional Maori wedding ceremony is conducted by the tribal elder who stands as the tribe leader, who will in turn bless the couple speaking the native Maori tongue.
That’s certainly a colorful wedding!
A Pakistani bride’s hands are adorned with henna few days before her wedding. The henna is meant to bring good luck to the marriage.
Traditional Palestinian brides wear beautiful embroidered wedding dresses.
They sure love to dance!
They sure love to drink beer!
Weddings are perceived by many Polish families as the perfect occasion, to impress their neighbors.
Men do a sword dance, or razeef, and sing songs which talk about the tribes they come from and about national glory. Don’t worry, swards are blunt.
A Russian wedding is a lavish, two-day event.
Samoan brides make their traditional wedding dresses using tapa cloth, which they obtain from the barks of mulberries. Don’t they look lovely?
Saudi Arabian Wedding
Men from both the bride’s and the groom’s family meet to celebrate. The groom greets the male members of the bride’s family with kisses. According to Islamic law, men and women celebrate separately.
Male guests wear traditional Highland outfits of kilts, jackets, and hose.
A traditional Senegalese wedding is three days long.
The flame from the candles symbolize God’s presence within the union.
Sierra Leonean Wedding
It’s unusual for a Sierra Leonean hire a wedding planner or a caterer for they know their guests will play an important role in their big day.
The wedding horse carriage procession usually includes musicians.
Tying the knot in spectacular surroundings is not unusual for Slovenians, as Slovenia is full of beautiful mountains.
The most important part of the wedding is the Gaaf. During the Gaff night, family members and friends reunite to recite poems and sing all night long.
The bride-to-be does a series of erotic dances for the groom, changing into several outfits in just one evening.
Groom’s friends perform a sword dance.
Traditionally, weddings in Tajikistan last for several days, with hundreds of guests.
Someone once said that more planning goes into these ceremonies than anything else in this country.
As the water is being poured, the guest offers their blessings and/or words of wisdom.
People wearing red hats are distinguished local people. Their main task is to escort the bride to the groom’s house.
One of the traditions here is that all of the bride and groom’s close friends buy the same fabric and get outfits made out of it.
A common saying in Tunisia is, “A wedding without noise is no wedding at all!”
Red, purple and gold – a dazzling sight which evokes all the splendor of 1001 nights.
Ouch, that dress is heavy!
When one first attends a traditional Ugandan wedding, they are most probably amazed by how huge and fussy the ceremony is.
The happy couple releases a pair of white doves to represent their union and love.
The sheets, hats, and clothes are all hand-embroidered with most beautiful delicate flowers.
Due to the spiritual nature of the wedding and marriage, the date and time of the big is decided in advance by a Buddhist monk, Spiritual leader, or fortune teller.
Men perform a traditional Baraa dance during a mass wedding ceremony for over 3000 happy couples. What’s out boys, those things are sharp!
The highlight of any Zambian wedding ceremony is the wedding dance performed by the bridal party.