10 Wedding Ceremony Traditions From Around the World

  • Bride and groom figurines on a globe

    Ceremonies for unifying a couple for life vary in different countries and cultures. The variety of wedding customs can help you realize that the sky is truly the limit for making a statement about your love and connection to each other.

  • Illustrated flying doves

    In the Phillippines, it is customary for the couple to release a pair of doves, symbolizing harmony and togetherness.

  • Pouring sake

    A traditional Japanese ceremony of sharing cups of sake, three sips each from three cups, represents happiness and family formation. By sharing these same cups between the couple and their parents, they represent the joining of two families. This ceremony is known as San San Kudo.

  • Indian flower market

    In India, a Var Mala Ceremony is where brides place flower garlands around the necks of their grooms. It’s like an enthusiastic yes, showing the acceptance the bride feels about the groom in question.

  • Wedding couple lighting a candle together

    A Colombian traditional candle ceremony begins with a bride and groom each having their own candles lit. They then light a candle together and blow out their own candles, representing their own unity in marriage.

  • Clinking wine glasses at a table

    In Pakistan, the wedding may go on for many days, and one main element of the ceremony is an intimate affair, held in the bride’s home herself. Bringing family together and starting the couple out on the right foot also involves having the bride and groom host a dinner together later on in the proceedings.

  • A couple standing together

    In the Congo, it’s custom to not smile during the wedding ceremony or after; the entire event is treated with a reverent solemnity and understanding that the marriage vow is a serious experience.

  • Wedding couple exchange rings

    In a traditional nikah, or Islamic marraige ritual, the bride and groom sign their marriage contract separately, coming together to see each other only after the marriage is finalized. The simplicity of the ceremony is often accompanied, however, with many days of celebrations and receptions.

  • Bride wearing crown outside

    In Norway, a crown with charms on it is part of the traditional wedding outfit; it wards off evil spirits when the charms jangle against each other.

  • Couple holding hands at a wedding ceremony

    An Irish custom is to use ribbon or rope to symbolically and literally "tie" the groom and bride’s hands together, showing that they are committed to staying together. They don’t have to keep their wrists wrapped for the entire wedding celebration though!

  • A man tending a hearth

    One South African tradition involves the parents of the happy couple bringing fire from their own hearths to the fireplace of their now-united children. It’s one way to make a new home feel warm and connected to the rest of their new family.

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