7 Wedding Customs from Around the World

An Indian bride at her wedding with henna tattoos on the palms of her hands.

While you may be very used to the traditions and customs for weddings that take place where you live, it’s interesting to learn about the many varieties of ways that other countries and cultures celebrate this momentous day for their citizens. Here are just a few customs—some from the past and some still continued today—from seven places around the world.

1. Henna Tattoos in India

In India, it’s traditional to adorn the hands and feet of the bride, and sometimes her female attendants or others as well, with intricate designs made of special henna ink. The application can take many hours, and many henna artists will create specific designs that include details such as the groom’s name or initials into the artwork on the bride. The designs are meant to represent the celebratory joy and love of the occasion, and the ritual of getting them applied is supposed to be calming for the bride before her big day.

2. Releasing Doves in the Philippines

A pair of doves in a wood cage for a wedding ceremony in the Philippeans.

In the Philippines, newlywed couples often take time on their wedding day to release a pair of doves into the sky. This traditional dove release is meant to be a symbol of a peaceful and harmonious life ahead for the new couple. Often, before the release, the doves are kept in a beautifully decorated cage or basket, so that the newlyweds can open the door or top at the same time for a simultaneous release of the doves.

3. Sneaking out in Venezuela

In Venezuela, it’s not just considered polite to slip out of your own wedding reception before the end—it’s actually expected! It’s thought to be good luck for the wedding couple to sneak out of the reception without anyone noticing, so many couples will try their best to get out undetected. Because it’s a known tradition, guests have eagle eyes on them and it can be difficult to maneuver, but it’s a fun way for the newlyweds to get out a little early and it’s all part of the celebration!

4. Sawing a Log in Germany

A log set up for sawing at a German wedding.

The couple that saws together, stays together! As part of the wedding celebration in Germany, the newly married couple has to work together with a large saw to split a log in half in front of all of their guests. Completing this task is symbolic of their ability to overcome obstacles and use teamwork, both of which they will have to do many times in their lives together as a married couple.

5. Unity Bowl in Australia

This unique wedding custom in Australia incorporates the wedding guests themselves into the celebration. Guests are each given a small stone, often brightly colored, to hold during the ceremony. After the wedding ceremony is completed, each guest places their stone into a decorative bowl, which is kept for the couple to display in their new home together as a reminder of the love and support they were surrounded by on their wedding day. Many couples use this as a replacement for a guestbook, either having the guests sign the stones themselves before they place them into the bowl or, for smaller ceremonies, giving out certain stone types or colors to certain guests as a way to remember which stone was held by whom.

6. Sipping Sake in Japan

A trio of cups on a wood table filled with sake for a Japanese wedding ceremony.

In Japan, a common tradition is for the wedding couple as well as both set of their parents to share some sake out of the same three cups as part of the wedding ceremony. This is meant to represent not just the two individuals getting married, but also their two families being brought together by the union. This tradition comes from a time when sharing sake was considered a formal agreement, so when part of a wedding ceremony, this ritual is a very important moment for everyone involved.

7. Flower Crowns in Sweden

While flower crowns may be having a moment for brides in 2019, this look actually originates from a Swedish tradition. In Sweden, the tradition was for a bride to wear a crown of myrtle leaves around her head in lieu of a veil. The myrtle was meant to symbolize innocence or virginity and was sometimes accompanied by ivy or other leaves to add a decorative flair to the piece.

Wedding celebrations around the world are filled with fantastic customs that make them unique to the couple and their culture! Do you know of any interesting wedding customs that we didn’t mention here? Share them in the comments below!

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