There are so many cultures on this planet, and each has fascinating wedding customs! Here are some of the most interesting wedding traditions from around the world
By Emily Spennato
A tiered cake, a white dress, and countless bouquets of flowers. All of these elements seem to be perfectly normal for us today, in terms of what we’d expect from weddings. But there are plenty of other interesting wedding traditions from around the world you’ve probably never heard of before.
From spitting on bridges to serpent-shaped engagement rings, here are some of the most interesting wedding traditions we know of, from around the world.
10 Interesting Global Wedding Traditions
1. England: (Weird) Engagement Rings
It was Queen Victoria of England! Before their wedding, Prince Albert designed his bride’s engagement ring, and it was seriously unusual. It came in the form of a serpent, with an emerald stone on its head. Today, emeralds are making a comeback as the gem of choice for engagement rings, perhaps with a nod to Queen V.
2. Italy: Candy Confetti
Coming from an Italian-American family, I know that Italians are a festive, loud bunch with plenty of traditions. And most of them revolve around food! One of Italy’s most interesting and festive wedding traditions from Italy involves confetti – but not the confetti you’re thinking of.
Sugar coated almonds are literally thrown around like confetti at some Italian weddings. Most people now opt to throw around paper confetti because it’s cheaper – less painful when it hits your guests in the head!
Candied almonds are still given to guests as bomboniere, a.k.a. wedding favours. No prizes for guessing ‘confetti’ means ‘sweets’, too!
3. Qatar: Money Grab
If you’ve ever been to a wedding in Qatar or anywhere in the Gulf, you may have left with heavier pockets than when you arrived. One of the most interesting wedding traditions from Qatar is the bride giving money to the female guests. Or at least, that’s what happened to the wedding I went to.
After the dinner was served and the entertainment presented, loads of coins were thrown into the air. This resulted in a huge scramble of all the women in attendance trying to grab as much money as they could! Similar to throwing bomboniere, it’s a hazardous, yet totally playful tradition.
4. South Korea: Foot Beating
Speaking of playful traditions, here’s a crazy one! In South Korea, it’s custom to beat the groom’s feet before he leaves for his wedding night. This sounds cruel, but it’s all in good fun, and is supposed to represent the male’s strength as he enters into marriage. The groomsmen or members of the groom’s family tie his feet together and beat them with sticks or dried fish. Weird – but we’ll go with it!
The funniest part? The beating doesn’t stop until the groom is paid by his new mother-in-law. This unusual and interesting wedding tradition is supposed to show the male’s strength and make sure he *ahem* performs well on his wedding night. Beating feet to make sure your man doesn’t disappoint in the bedroom? Again…we’ll just go with it.
5. Romania: Kidnapping the Bride
Another of the interesting wedding traditions from around the world comes from Eastern Europe.
Talk about paying a price for love! In Romania, friends, family or hired actors like to mess with the bride a few days before the wedding. Fake abductors take the bride and the groom has to pay a price to get her back. While this unusual yet interesting pre-wedding tradition dates back to antiquity – when unions were bartered without the say of the bride – it’s all in jest today.
To get his love back, usually the groom has to pay with something silly or romantic, like jewelry or a bottle of champagne.
6. Kenya: Spitting on the Bride
Okay, this one is a little bit more serious than the playful traditions we’ve discussed so far.
In most places, getting spit on is disgusting and an ultimate sign of disrespect. However, in the Maasai tribe of Kenya and Tanzania, it’s totally different. Within their culture, a traditional wedding ceremony involves dowries given by the groom’s family, shaving the bride’s head, and yes, spit.
To represent good luck, the bride’s father and other elder family members spit on her head and on her breast after the ceremony. These interesting wedding traditions aren’t seen as degrading in the Maasai culture, it’s actually incredibly honourable.
7. Mexico: Lassoing A Heart
‘El Lazo’, which means ‘the bow’, or a lasso in English, is prevalent during Mexican wedding ceremonies. These ceremonies are usually centered around the Catholic faith, so therefore the lazo is typically made of flowers and rosary beads … and it’s stunning! During the ceremony, the couple exchanges vows and says a prayer, before the lazo is draped over and between them like a figure eight. The shape represents – you guessed it – infinity! This blesses the couple with an infinite, lasting marriage.
8. Armenia: Breaking Of Bread
Lavash flat bread is made with simple ingredients, but is a heavily weighted tradition in the way it is prepared and shared in a traditional Armenian wedding ceremony.
Here, couples balance lavash on their shoulders to ward off any bad juju that may plague their marriage. It is said that when the couple enters their wedding reception—typically at the groom’s house—they break a plate for good luck. They are then given lavash bread and honey by the groom’s mother as gifts. Honey represents happiness, and eating a spoonful during celebrations represents joy.
9. Lebanon: The Party Goes On!
When it comes to wedding celebrations, the Lebanese are absolutely relentless! An interesting, and rowdy, wedding tradition is known as the Zaffe.
The Zaffe is a huge party that can involve music, performers, and belly dancers. It usually begins at the grooms’ house, then moves over to the bride’s home. And this is before the wedding ceremony even happens! The Zaffe is meant to give couples a chance to be blessed before their big day. And then of course, celebrations continue during and after the wedding, too!
10. Vietnamese Tea Parties
This might be one of the most intricate of all the interesting wedding traditions from around the world!
The traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony, or Đám Hỏi or Ăn Hỏi in Vietnamese, usually takes place about a month before the wedding. It represents the official wedding date announcement and the bride officially being the groom’s fiancee. It begins in a common way, practiced today in many cultures: the groom asking his future wife’s family for her hand in marriage.
Back in the day, cows and horses were given as part of a dowry. Now, this interesting wedding tradition is a little more about love and less about farm animals.
During the actual tea ceremony, participants will wear traditional dress and perform things like pouring water on their hands while waiting patiently at tables lined with traditional items.
In Vietnamese culture, the groom goes through a series of rituals to show that he can care for his bride. First, he must offer money and play games with other men in the girl’s family in order to prove himself worthy to be allowed into her home. He also performs various tasks before being let inside, where they then greet each other formally.
There are so many different interesting wedding traditions from around the world, but we couldn’t cover them all here. While we don’t usually see many of these customs at the mainstream weddings we celebrate on Instagram and in magazines, it doesn’t mean they’re less special or unique. If you’re looking for interesting wedding traditions to add to your big day, examine your cultural heritage! Something may surprise you.
Do you know of any other interesting wedding traditions from around the world? If so, let us know in the comments, below!