Many brides and grooms from around the world get married by the traditions of their ancestry. These weddings can be religious, cultural, or even a mix of some newer traditions. Following the values of our family’s cultures or religion is a way of paying tribute. In the USA, we’ve infused our weddings with so many unique blended styles and it’s interesting to find out where some traditions had begun. For instance, many brides wear white, which we’ve adapted from the English, but this appears in other cultures, too—including Japan, as worn by the nobility in the Edo period (1603-1868).
Weddings are not celebrated in the same way in every country and culture. Even different regions within the same country have their own unique approach. Here are some fascinating examples from around the world.
Especially diverse countries can have many distinctive types of weddings, and can vary from region to region, with different religious and cultural traditions. One such example is India with 29 states and seven union territories. There are 20 languages spoken, and religions include Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism. However, India is 80% Hindu, but are still mixed with other religions and cultures just like the USA. With so much diversity, you can imagine all the various kinds of weddings, all equally beautiful.
Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions, dating back about 5,000 years. Hindu weddings have many rituals to observe before, during, and after the wedding, which can last multiple days. One such example is in Rajasthan, the town of Jaipur. Weddings in Rajasthan are very traditional, exotic, and colorful events and can last three days. There is the pre-wedding celebration of the engagement (Sagai), where they exchange rings, apply henna to both the bride and groom, sing, dance, and much more. The second day is the actual wedding celebration which begins with the entire procession, including the groom, riding to the bride’s family home where they’re welcomed with showers and sprays of flowers. Later they take “seven rounds of the fire” (Pheras) and take their vows, followed by a reception. The last day is the Doli Vidaai where the bride’s relatives unhappily lose their daughter to the receivership of the groom’s family, as they happily make the new bride their daughter. Afterward, there is a brunch and the couple are sent off to their new married lives. That is an extremely abridged description, as there are so many rituals that take place during these three days.
The Chinese population is split between many different religions, Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism, even though the ruling communist party is officially atheist. Wedding celebrations are bheavily tied to specific regions due to numerous ethno-linguistics and cultures incorporated into modern Chinese practices.
Many utilize the “six etiquettes,” which includes a matchmaker who helps find a potential bride, chooses the wedding date based on the couple’s astrological signs and birthdates, and betrothal gifts to bride’s family. The other three etiquettes include specific wedding gifts, wedding arrangements, and the ceremony. A typical wedding ceremony will include a procession, many symbolic rituals, and red is incorporated very predominantly into many aspects of the wedding rituals for good luck and happiness.
In South America, Brazil is another notable example of varied beliefs. While it has a large urban population whose main beliefs include Catholicism, Protestantism, Spiritism, LDS, and African religions, there are still notible indigenous people who live within the coastal and river areas. One such tribe is the Yanomamo tribe, in which young brides marry men in their early 20s, and men with the highest honors can have many wives.
Brazil’s history and traditions is colorful due to its main population changing for hundreds of years, which makes for numerous styles and creative weddings. Couples wear engagement rings on their right hand, which moves to the left after marrying. They dance Sambas the entire wedding night and eat bem casados (macaron-like yummies) as “good marriage” favors. Bride’s usually wear white, but with gold shoes, which are placed on the dance floor for guests to drop money in while dancing to help with the newlywed’s future.
In Europe, Hungarian weddings are encircled by their rich history. Just like many cultures, you can learn a lot about the people by the traditions of their weddings. Their religions include Christian, Calvinism (reformed Christian), Catholicism, and Judaism, among others.
Brides often wear traditional colorful gowns with lots of embroidery and headpieces made from wheat to represent fertility and prosperity. In the old days, the best man personally invited each wedding guest and was responsible for much of the planning, but villages also helped get him ready. The villages would even help to “kidnap” the bride for the groom to rescue. Entire villages would often form a procession behind a decorated car of the bride to the ceremony, but many newer traditions have the bride and groom walk to the ceremony to celebrate the old village days. The officiate would get a token of wine or cookies from the couple who arrive separately.
Actual weddings can vary based on religion, but the service itself would take place either inside a church or at an outside location. Couples exchange rings placed on their right hands once being professed as man and wife. When entering the reception, the best man announces the new man and wife to all assembled. Then it’s time to party, and the guests and wedding party dance, engage in folk singing, and feast on Hungarian foods, such as beef goulash, chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage, cherry soup, and lavish layered wedding cakes. Some guests bring small wedding cakes to present to the couple and other guests. Before midnight, all wedding guests circle the couple with their own candles during the last “candlelight” waltz, the couple then holds their own candles, which they blow out along with all the circled guests. The bride traditionally changes out of her wedding gown at the stroke of midnight into her “new wife dress”, and often the groom changes his shirt to match.