Curious and Unusual Wedding Traditions from Around the World

A bride and groom standing in front of a small house in a rural European town.

If you’re looking to add something interesting to your wedding, why not look at other countries and cultures for inspiration? It can be a tasteful touch to add a bit of your distant heritage to your special day. Or, if you’re a globetrotter, you can implement an aspect from a country you’re lived in or fell in love with.

There are a number of curious wedding traditions in the world. Many are sweet, while some may seem strange. Either way, it’s fascinating to learn about different cultures. Perhaps by reading about some of these fun ideas, you’ll get an idea or two about things to do yourself on your wedding day.

Italy: Serenading the Bride

If you’re a groom looking for a creative and romantic gesture, take a hint from the Italians. In Italy, it’s common for the groom to serenade his bride the night before the wedding. Except, instead of a private Romeo and Juliette-like scene, picture a full-blown party beneath her window. This is known as “la serenata.” While the tradition is often deemed outdated in modern times, nevertheless it’s a very fun one to try. Just watch out for the noise complaints!

Southern United States: Burying a Bottle of Bourbon

Groomsmen toasting with bourbon before the wedding.

Whether you live in the United States or not, the Southern states are something special. When it comes to weddings, they know how to have fun. A month before the wedding, the engaged couple must bury a bottle of bourbon upside down at or near the venue of their ceremony. It’s a long-lived tradition that is meant to prevent any bad weather on the big day. Fear not—the booze does not go to waste because on the day of the wedding, the couple must dig the bottle back up and share it among themselves and their guests.

Scotland: A Messy Night on the Town

For a grungier take on the bachelor and bachelorette parties, look into Scotland’s tradition of the “blackening.” Usually done a few days before the wedding, it’s essentially a minor public humiliation of the bride and/or groom by their bridal party.

This tradition is performed for good luck and involves covering the bride or groom with a sticky and messy mixture—and then going out for a night on the town. The messy mixture can include syrup, feathers, mud, flour, food, or anything else that’s hard to wipe off. Although this originated from northeastern Scotland, a similar tradition exists in Northern Ireland.

Sweden: Stealing a Kiss from the Bride or Groom

Warning: don’t try this one if you’re the jealous type. In Sweden, it’s custom for the bride or groom to be “fair game” at the wedding reception—at least any time their significant other leaves the room. And yes, the tradition still holds to this day. At Swedish weddings, you will literally see people lining up to have their go at the newlyweds. Just found out you’re Swedish? Don’t worry too much. The only thing the guests can enjoy is a kiss!

Venezuela: Escaping the Reception Early

A bride and groom running down the street.

If you need an excuse to escape the party early and head off on your honeymoon, you can use this Venezuelan custom as an excuse. It’s normal for the bride and groom to sneak out of their wedding reception long before the event is over. Should you succeed, it means more good luck for the relationship. Additional good luck is given to the first person to realize that they’ve left!

China: Making the Groom Prove His Love

Another fun alternative for the bachelor party comes from China. Prior to the wedding, sometimes the morning of, the bridesmaids plan a series of games and challenges for the groom that he must complete in order to prove his commitment to his future wife. To multiply the factor of fun, feel free to get the groomsmen involved, too.

Germany: Breaking Plates

As a bonding exercise for the newlyweds, guests partake in a long-time tradition of “polterabend”. On the day before or sometimes the day of the wedding, guests break any delicate dishes, usually porcelain or ceramic, and watch while the couple works together to clean up the mess.

In addition to ensuring good luck, the practice teaches the newlyweds how to work together and overcome any difficulties that life may bring. (Not to mention, this is also a fun way of getting rid of old kitchenware, especially if you’re looking towards new pieces from your wedding registry!)

Philippines: Releasing Doves

A pair of doves in a bamboo cage at a wedding.

For a simple and sweet addition to your ceremony, consider releasing a pair of white doves. This Filipino tradition is meant to symbolize a life of peace and harmony for the newlyweds.

Peru: An Alternative to the Bouquet Toss

If the bouquet toss feels too boring, try a different approach to the same concept. Popular in both Peru and England, this tradition involves having all the single ladies pull out a ribbon from the wedding cake. Each ribbon is tied to a charm, one of which is a ring. The lucky lady who gets the faux wedding band is the next to get married!

Denmark and Norway: A Progeny-Predicting Cake

Danish and Norwegian people have a cake made from almonds and egg whites called “kransekake.” Consisting of a set of stacked rings in an upside down cone shape, the cake sometimes conceals a secret bottle of wine or liquor. It’s custom for the couple to lift the top ring of the cake together. The number of layers that stick to it is said to predict the number of children the couple will have.

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