If you’re planning your big day, make sure you have your whale tooth and congested father-in-law ready. Oh, and remember, if you smile on your wedding day, you might as well get divorced. Here are 80 wedding traditions and superstitions that will tie you in a knot.
You May ALL Kiss the Bride
To be a bride or a groom in Sweden means you have to keep your jealousy well in check – especially on your wedding day! This cheeky Swedish tradition allows guests to lock lips with the bride or groom when the other is not present.
Should the bride leave the room, the female guests are all entitled to catch a quick snog with the groom and vice versa for the bride when her husband is out of sight!
Grooms Had to Fight Off Rejected Suitors
It is customary for the groom to stand on the bride’s right at Christian weddings. In the past, doing so was far more practical than symbolic. The groom’s right hand had to be free and ready to grab a weapon and fight off abandoned suitors!
Rejected romantics would take one last shot at securing the bride’s affections by attacking the groom at the couple’s wedding. We wonder if an ambidextrous groom made for a far more lively wedding.
Wedding Cake? More Like Wedding Bread
Wedding cakes are a lot tastier today than they were in ancient Rome, but the tradition remains almost the same. The family of the bride would hold a cake made of barley over her head, recite a few bridal blessings to create a “fruitful womb,” and then proceed to break the confectionary.
The bride and groom would then feed the crumbs to each other to symbolize their commitment, just as newlyweds do with slices of cake today.
Why Wedding Veils?
Does it not seem strange that a bride would have to cover her blush with a piece of translucent cloth? Originally, the veil served two purposes. Firstly, and more universally, the veil served as a shield against sinister spirits intent on creating disharmony in the marriage.
Secondly, the veil was a tool of arranged marriages whereby the bride’s face would only be revealed to the groom at the altar itself. This gives a whole new meaning to "Married at First Sight".
Getting Wedding Presents in a Pillowcase
Is it possible the Finns had a beef with wrapping paper? Back in the day, a Finnish bride-to-be would go door to door and collect wedding gifts with a pillowcase. The generous townsfolk would slip their gifts into the pillowcase, and the bride would only see them on her wedding day.
Today's brides would be horrified at the thought of getting gifts they didn't specifically ask for, and in a plain pillowcase, on top of it all!
Carrying the Bride to Ward Off Evil Spirits
The superstition of carrying the bride into the marital home is known to have originated from the belief that spirits, unable to enter a home, waited at its doorways to attach themselves to a bride’s soles and be walked into the home.
The groom would carry her over the threshold, thereby preventing any supernatural intrusions. The real question is, why can't they attach themselves to the groom's soles? The hubbies of today have amazing shoes themselves but don't tell the spirits about that change.
In Sweden, the Third Ring Is a Charm
As with many cultures, Swedes present each other with engagement rings when it comes time to propose. Fair enough. And in a similar fashion, the husband presents his wife with a wedding ring on the big day itself. However, after the brave bride gives birth to a tiny new human, her husband gives her yet another ring.
We totally approve of this tradition — moms deserve it! We imagine Swedish women touching their rings daily while whispering “my preciouses” to themselves.
Cranes on Wedding Dresses
Adorning wedding attire with artwork of cranes is an Asian wedding tradition that spread from Korea to as far as Turkey. Cranes may seem an unusual choice of animal to symbolize matrimony, but the reasoning is heartwarming, to say the least: cranes are famous for their marvelous monogamy.
The unwavering dedication of a crane to its perfect partner is considered a blessing for newlyweds, and it’s not unusual to find wedding dresses and suits with cranes sewn onto them.
Jumping the Broom
Out with the old, in with the new is the ethos behind this particular wedding tradition. The tradition of a newlywed couple jumping over a broom is understood to have originated in West Africa and has seen a revival in modern-day America.
A wedding guest will place a broom in front of a couple after their vows. The couple is then expected to hold hands and leap over the broom together with the broom symbolizing sweeping out “the old.”
Snipping the Groom's Socks
When putting his socks on, a Danish groom might not care if his socks have holes because they will certainly have them by the end of the ceremony! Guests grab the hapless groom once his vows have been said and hoist him up.
A designated guest (the soberest one, we hope) then has the task of snipping off the toes of the sock. This very quirky tradition is meant to give the wife her first task – fixing her husband’s socks!
Using a Pig's Insides to Know the Fate of the Marriage
Thank goodness we have marriage counselors now. The ancient Romans did not, unfortunately, and relied on a grisly method of determining how long the marriage would last.
A fortuneteller would have the very unenviable task of examining pig intestines to determine the course and fate of a marriage. You might wonder how would the insides of a pig help them make their predictions, but we say the fewer questions asked about this one, the better.
A Two Day Dowry Ceremony
The giving of lobola is a tradition still widely practiced in southern Africa. Best translated as “dowry,” lobola involves the groom and his family paying a substantial form of capital to his intended bride’s parents. The capital is frequently either cash or cattle.
The giving of lobola is not a simple transaction, it's a ceremony that starts on Friday and ends on Sunday. It is usually held at the bride’s parental home. Lobola similarly symbolizes the groom’s ability and commitment to providing.
A Spider in Your Wedding Dress
Brides who are scared of spiders may want to skip this one. English folklore has a curious superstition about a certain eight-legged individual crawling over the wedding dress.
In traditional English superstition, a spider hiding in a wedding dress is considered an omen of good fortune. While the roots of this belief are a tad unclear, we feel like it's a safe bet to assume it was started by someone who liked seeing brides scream in horror. Not cool! Still, it is thought that the spider symbolizes “weaving new worlds.”
Dutch Partners in Pine
The Dutch are known to grab their shovels before a newlywed couple takes occupation of their marital home.
The respective friends of the bride and groom take it upon themselves to plant two small pine trees on either side of the house’s front door. Scottish naturalist John Muir may have said it best when he quoted, ”Between every two pine trees, there is a door leading to a new way of life.”
Taste Testing Married Life
The Yoruba people in Nigeria know that wedded life is not all sunshine and rainbows. Hard times come, and the lovebirds are expected to hold out against the challenges. The couple's family makes the newlyweds gulp down a spoonful of cayenne pepper, honey, lemon juice, and vinegar to symbolize this.
Each ingredient is meant to represent an emotional state so they can figuratively “taste” the sweetness of companionship, the heat of arguments, the bitterness of struggle, and the acidity of responsibility.
A Sugar Coated Bride
A Grecian superstition states that a sugar cube placed close to the bride will sweeten the union between her and the groom. The intent is not to make it too obvious.
Some creative ways that wedding guests have found are placing sugar cubes into bouquets, hiding them in purses, or scattering them on tables. Some go as far as simply inserting a sugar cube into the glove of a bride so the sugar can melt against her skin!
Pinching the Bride
Pinching your way to a partner. The curious tradition of guests pinching Egyptian brides on their wedding days began when, as folklore tells, a scornful bride began mocking a maiden for not being able to find a husband.
In anger, the maiden pinched the bride’s knee, and upon hearing of this quarrel, the bride’s cousin proposed marriage to the crabby maiden. To this day Egyptian brides have to endure pinching from every hopeful young maiden attending.
Signing the Bridal Shoes
According to Turkish tradition, if the bridesmaids write their name on the bottom of the bride’s shoes, it will bring about an engagement for one of the hopeful ladies. The belief is that the last name that is erased will be the one to have a marriage proposal come her way.
To spice it up, bridesmaids strategically write their names on the parts of the sole that will fade last. This tradition certainly keeps brides on their toes!
Italian Grooms Mustn't Look Back
One of the more curious Italian superstitions is the groom not being permitted to turn around on his wedding day. Maybe they think the groom will turn into a pillar of salt?
The groomsmen go so far as to accompany the groom throughout the day to ensure that he does not turn around, to symbolize not turning back from getting to the altar! We think this superstition speaks for itself, right?
Chinese Newlyweds See Red
Color is particularly significant in many Chinese traditions and superstitions, and none more so at a wedding. For weddings, there is an emphasis on a suitable color scheme to bring about good fortune, abundance, and harmony, and, to that end, the color red is particularly important.
The couple should expect to see red drapes, carpets, tablecloths, and even red linen for the wedding bed! Guests will even give their cash gifts in a red envelope. We bet the newlyweds don’t mind seeing red in that instance!
Danish Gender Bending
From all accounts, this tradition from Denmark is from a bygone era, but we think it would be awesome to see it revived. In order to ward off spooks with ill-intent, Danish brides and grooms would swap wedding attire.
The belief was if the groom wore a dress and the bride a suit the spirits would become confused and not be able to hex them. Unlike other places, in Denmark, the mischievous spirits try and haunt the groom, and not just the bride.
Friends Kidnapping the Bride?!
In rural China, it is not unusual for a bride to altogether leave her family behind as she forges a new life with her husband. In the days leading up to the departure, friends and close family will often arrange the most epic of sleepovers where they hide her away in an attic.
In an elaborate display of customary mourning, the bride’s friends and relatives sing, sob, and even place curses on the bride’s matchmaker! Tinder in China must be one gigantic jinx!
In Kenya, Masai fathers have quite a way of expressing their blessing for their daughter’s choice of husband. Despite what you might think, the act of spitting in the Masai is one of respect. It is thought that good luck is transferred in the act.
On a Masai bride’s wedding day, after she has lamb fat smeared all over her, her father will ceremoniously spit on her head and chest. A lot of tissues are brought to these weddings, and not just for the tears.
Whale Teeth Instead of a Ring
Forget saving three months' worth of salary for an engagement ring. Just propose in the traditional Fijian way: by presenting the bride and her family with a whale tooth! Fijians believe that the relic has powers and that bestowing it signifies that the gifter will “make good” on his commitment.
Whale teeth are becoming increasingly rare to purchase nowadays, and many families inherit whale teeth from previous generations.
For a Tujia Bride, Crying Is a Chore
Work those tear ducts, ladies; this tradition takes dedication. In China, the Tujia people incorporate forced crying into the buildup to the wedding. A month before the wedding takes place, the bride must cry daily for a full hour.
A week later, her mother begins weeping with her, and following this: her grandmother! Come the wedding week, and all the female relatives sob with the bride daily! This tradition is about literally crying tears of joy.
I Take Thee, Tree
Some Indian cultures believe that if a woman is born under a Mars sign, she carries a curse that will lead to a catastrophic marriage. There is a very curious way to break this curse: marrying a tree.
A banana tree, in fact. The superstition holds that the tree should be cut down once the bride has wed the tree. With its felling, any curses attached to her are dispelled and she can now marry a human, hopefully.
Using Dead Fish to Prepare the Groom for Married Life
A tradition in South Korea known as Falaka involves hosting a game of trivia for the groom. Sounds fun, right? Well, there is a twist: the groom is expected to answer every question while being restrained.
That's not all, the soles of his feet must be whipped with a dead fish. Why? To make him strong enough to endure the challenges of marriage by enhancing his memory. We’re confident he’d want to forget this, though.
The Three-Day Bathroom Ban
The Tidung people of Borneo have rather challenging honeymoons. Fertility is favored highly in this culture, and one of the first orders of married business is to get to making babies straight away.
Supposedly, a couple is believed to conceive far more successfully if they are prevented from using the toilet for three days after their wedding! Relatives go so far as to stand guard at their bedroom door to ensure no sneaky relieving happens.
I Now Declare You Lumberjacks!
German weddings rank as some of the most joyous ones in the world, with a variety of quirky traditions and superstitions that make the festivities all the more eccentric and amusing.
Baumstamm sägen is the German tradition of a groom and bride sawing a log in half, which symbolizes their first challenge as a married couple. Teamwork! Once the log is in half, the guests shower the couple in confetti and proceed to the reception.
Hometown Sticks for Couples Who Stick Together
The Samburu people of Kenya have their own version of “something old.” To show they won't forget where they came from, the Samburu bride and the groom must choose two sticks from their place of birth and cross them at their marriage ceremony. Think of it as a gesture to your hometown.
In a very poetic sense, this tradition signifies that the couple is still true to their roots but is also growing new ones.
Bread on Their Shoulders, Honey in Their Mouths
An Armenian superstition insists that a careful balancing of bread will foil any malicious spirit’s plans to sabotage your holy matrimony. Upon entering the wedding reception, flatbread is laid on the shoulders of both bride and groom.
The couple then has to smash a plate and be fed spoonfuls of honey – all the while being mindful not to let the bread drop. Wow, that's a lot to think about during your own wedding!
Japanese Brides Have to Hide Their Horns
In Japan, Shinto weddings are especially stunning. The bride graces the ceremony in an all-white ensemble. Part of this ensemble is a headdress known as a Tsunokakushi.
The Tsunokakushi holds a peculiar symbolism in the wedding ceremony: hiding the bride’s horns of jealousy. As the superstition goes, the jealousy is directed at her mother-in-law. To prove her devotion the bride must repress these feelings, at least symbolically, by hiding her “horns”.
No Smiling on Your Wedding Day
Some ethnic groups in the Congo insist on something that will sound insane to any western family — not a single smile on your wedding day. Imagine flipping through that wedding album.
The tradition emphasizes the earnestness of marriage, claiming that any joy expressed on the wedding day is a clear indicator that the couple is not taking the union seriously. All we can imagine is the photographer shouting, “Don’t smile!” constantly.
German Couples Have to Clean on Their Special Day
German grooms and brides do not seem to get a break from the manual labor during their weddings. The age-old tradition of Polterabend, directly translated as “noisy night,” has wedding guests smashing dozens of porcelain items to pieces.
The act of smashing the porcelain is summed up in the saying, “Shards bring good luck.” The rather unlucky couple has the chore of cleaning up the mess together in the act of sharing their first domestic duty.
Drinking Honey for a Full Month
Back in the good old days, a Scandinavian superstition was that fermented honey, known as mead, must be drunk by newlyweds every day during the first month of their marriage! Why you may ask? Scandinavians thought this would boost the couple's libido.
The tradition is long gone but it gave us something we like much better — honeymoons! We, for once, are thrilled that a term that originated in a sticky yet sweet tradition, is now used as an excuse to go to the Bahamas.
Pulling Rings Out of Cake
An almost universal belief is that a wedding itself will bring marital luck to the single guests in attendance. A tradition in Peru is to have charms tied to a ribbon and placed in-between the layers of the wedding cake.
At the end of one of these ribbons, there is a ring instead of a plain charm. Single female volunteers yank the ribbon out from the cake, hoping to get “the ring” as it means they will be next to wed!
The Latin Lasso
You do not have to put on your cowboy hats for this one. The Wedding Lasso, commonly known in Spanish as the 'lazo', is a unity ceremony that has its roots in Catholicism.
The tradition of draping a lasso around a wedded couple’s shoulders is popular in many Latin countries. While the couple is reciting their vows, their respective parents lay the lasso over their shoulders, symbolizing they are now becoming one. This sounds both cute and cumbersome, kinda like married life itself.
Shaving the Groom
If you get chosen as someone’s best man for a Greek wedding, make sure you have a lot of time, money, and a very steady hand! The best man title comes with a host of responsibilities, including paying for wedding decorations, dressing the groom, and transferring the wedding rings to the couple.
A timeless tradition is that of the best man shaving the groom with a cutthroat knife. The act is intended to symbolize unbreakable trust between the two men. No Greek Sweeney Todds then...
A Party, Then the Ceremony, Then Another Party
At a traditional Lebanese wedding, you don't have to endure the whole ceremony, you can get to partying straight away! The Zaffa is a Lebanese tradition of “warming up” to a ceremony.
In other words: a party before the party! The bride and groom are led out to the crowd and straight to the dance floor. After cutting the rug, the entire party makes their way to the actual wedding venue.
The Bride vs the Groom in an Eating Competition
This Russian wedding tradition involves eating your way to being the head of the house. The korovai is a local delicacy, sweet bread that can be delectably plain or deliciously extravagant. A wreath and two rings on the bread bless the couple with fidelity and prosperity.
The couple has to bite out a mouthful of the bread, and whoever bites the biggest piece is de facto the head of the household!
Guatemalan Wedding Bells Don’t Ring
Guatemalan mothers do not ring the bells for their sons’ weddings but instead smash them to smithereens. No, this isn’t in protest at their choice of a bride! Instead, inside the bells is a variety of grain, flour, and rice which symbolize bountifulness, success, and wealth for the newlyweds.
The act of the groom’s mother cracking the bells open and spilling the food on the ground is said to bestow these blessings on the couple’s union.
Paying to Dance With the Bride
Fancy a little bit of a foxtrot with the bride at her wedding? You better come with a roll of dough if you are in Cuba! Guests that request a spot on the dancefloor with the bride are expected to cough up some cash for the privilege.
No money exchanges hands, though. Instead, the guests pin the crisp bills to the wedding dress, leaving the bride looking like a literal money tree.
A Herb That Will Help Singles Find Love
Here’s another instance of benevolent brides blessing their bridesmaids with a chance at everlasting happiness. In Wales, the humble herb myrtle is synonymous with love. Welsh brides are known to gift their bridesmaids with a myrtle plant which each must plant as soon as possible.
As the folklore goes, the bridesmaid whose myrtle is first to blossom will be next to wed. The bride will carry myrtle in her bouquet and even tie it around her wrists to sprinkle some extra martial magic on the bridesmaids.
Welshmen Have the Spoon to Their Wives' Hearts
Welshmen do not hold the key to their womens’ hearts but rather the spoon to their womens’ hearts. The Welsh “love spoon” is a somewhat old-fashioned but very endearing tradition.
Carpentry was a highly prized skill in the good old days in Wales, and the ability to impress with a spoon carved with intricate patterns and designs bode well for a future husband’s chances. Nowadays, spoons are not meant for actual use but rather decorative statements of love.
Irish Imps Steal Brides
The dance moves at an Irish wedding have to be taken into careful consideration so as to prevent imps from taking the bride. According to superstition, the bride will be snatched up by fairies with ill intent if both feet are off the floor at any given time.
We had to scratch our heads to figure out what dance moves would require both feet to be off the floor. Our conclusion: nobody play Jump Around at an Irish wedding!
A Milk Bath for the Bride
Moroccan brides might have it the best out of anyone. An elaborate spa ritual is held for her two days before her big day. The bride is hosted at the traditional Hammam which can best be translated as “sauna,” for two solid days of intensive preparation. There is not much work to be done on the bride’s part, though.
The highlight of the Hammam has to be a luxurious bath filled with milk and herbs to purify and beautify the bride-to-be.
Eating Leftovers From a Toilet
Close friends of a newlywed French couple will force the couple to drink la soup: a toilet bowl filled with leftover food and drinks. Say what? We will never say “cheers to that.”
The vulgar tradition began with chamber pots and has since been replaced by toilets, and instead of leftover food, chocolate and champagne are now mixed in the bowl. We are so happy they made that change, as starting off wedded life eating leftovers from a toilet sounds terrible.
Peas and Lentils as Wedding Confetti
Forget the strips of ribbon and dazzling paper usually used for confetti. At Czech weddings, the couple walks through a pelting of peas and lentils.
The curious tradition is rooted in the belief that peas and lentils (and sometimes rice) confer powers of fertility to the newlyweds. As if this is not enough, the groom is then handed a horse collar to denote his new role in life: a henpecked husband.
Bridesmaids, But Why?
Bridesmaids are a quintessential part of the American wedding. Some may claim their role is even more iconic than those of the brides and grooms, but have you ever stopped to wonder why such a role even exists?
Bridesmaids were initially intended to serve as a “camouflage” for the bride. They would dress identically to the bride in order to confuse any would-be abductors who felt entitled to the brides’ courtship or her wedding dowry. Similarly, the bridesmaids were expected to fight off any vengeful mistresses!
Hand Over Your Daughter
Romance was not always the reason for ancient weddings, rarely so, in fact. Instead, marriage was a contract between different families through their sons and daughters getting married.
This contract is best represented by the age-old tradition of the bride’s father walking her down the aisle. As we know today, the act is symbolic of the father “giving his daughter away.” In the past, this was not symbolic, and the tradition was for the father to literally “hand over” his daughter as part of the tribal agreement!
Making the Bride Bigger
In the north African country of Mauritania, plus-sized women are considered the most attractive, and, traditionally, thin-bodied women find it challenging to secure a husband. Basically, the bigger the bride, the better!
The ancient tradition of leblouh is a school of sorts for young girls to gain weight. The young women are expected to attend these leblouh rites where female elders feed them a high-calorie diet primarily consisting of couscous and goat milk.
The Groom and the Bridal Bullseye
Cupid, stand aside. The Uyghur ethnic group in China proves their love for their brides by shooting arrows at them. And not just in the general direction of the bride; the arrows have to physically hit her.
Do not worry – the groom ensures to remove the arrowheads before picking up his bow! The groom fires the salvo of arrow shafts at his bride and then proceeds to snap each one before her. The tradition symbolizes everlasting trust between the couple.
No Wedding Night Baby? Get a Refund!
The Nuer people's wedding traditions in South Sudan happen in multiple stages, beginning with the hopeful bachelors approaching their intended bride’s family with a dowry of up to forty cattle.
Following this, a wedding ceremony takes place, but the proceedings' third and final stage is the chance to make the newlywed status official: the conjugal night. However, should the bride fail to conceive, the groom can call the entire marriage off and get a refund of all his cattle!
Brides With Ghostbusting Crowns
The wedding day phantoms are at it again. Almost every culture has a way of protecting its newlyweds from evil spirits. Ghost-proof protocols include wearing a veil, carrying the bride through the door, having both feet on the ground at all times, and more!
Now, we can add the Norweigan bridal crown: an ostentatious silver and gold tiara with several ghost-repelling charms dangling off it. The clink and chime of the charms are intended to scare off any shady spirits. Take note: ghosts hate noise!
A Crazy Cone Cake
The kransekage is likely the most interesting wedding cake anyone could bake. Traditional to both Denmark and Norway, kransekage is made by stacking concentric rings — starting from the largest at the bottom to the smallest at the top — on top of each other to form a cone.
Eighteen layers are usually the standard but can exceed more! Rumor has it this cake is not just cool-looking, but also induces finger-licking in those who eat it.
Stealing the Groom's Shoes
Indian grooms have to keep a close eye on their shoes at their wedding. Customarily, the grooms remove their shoes when at the mandap (altar in English) with their brides.
A classic tradition of pranking the groom is for the bride's female relatives to take off with his shoes when he is least suspecting. Once the groom realizes his fancy footwear has disappeared, the bride’s relatives demand a ransom for their return.
Brides Circling Grooms Seven Times
Jewish brides, particularly from the Ashkenazi ethnic group, run rings around their husbands! Seven, in fact. The tradition is steeped in biblical significance. The reason for seven circles should be a giveaway: according to the Torah, the earth was created in seven days.
Therefore, the circles represent the days of creation as the wife “creates” a new world for her and her husband. This circling further represents the separation of their inner world from the outer world.
Mexican godparents, known as padrinos and madrinas, are central to any Mexican wedding. The godparents are typically chosen as an example of enduring love, and their presence alone is thought to bestow the magic of a long-lasting relationship on newlyweds.
Yes, the padrinos and madrinas hold a greater prominence than even the groom and bride's parents. They are responsible for wedding planning and paying as well as reading bible verses during the ceremony.
Catching the Bouquet
Anyone that has been to a Western wedding or at least watched a wedding movie has seen this tradition: a group of single women eager to catch a bouquet tossed by the bride.
This tradition originates from medieval Europe, where the bride’s dress would often be shredded as female guests ripped pieces of it off for good luck. The bride distracted the single ladies by tossing the bouquet while she quickly retreated with her husband, saving her prized dress in the process.
Sipping Sacred Sake
Sake is a well-known Japanese beverage made from fermented rice. It holds particular importance in Japanese traditions, and it plays a significant part in weddings. A Japanese bride and groom will share a cup of sake, denoting their commitment to each other.
A sip from three different cup sizes represents three distinct phases in life. The small cup represents the past, the medium cup represents the present, and the large cup represents the future.
A Special Room for the Groom and Bride
The first few moments of solitude as husband and wife are part of the protocols at Jewish weddings. Immediately after leaving the chuppah, or altar, the couple is escorted to a room known as the yichud room.
Here, the newlyweds are afforded a few minutes of alone time to reflect upon the fact that they are, in fact, now married. The couple breaks their fast in the yichud room and shares a meal together. Once done, though, they rejoin the festivities.
Having an Intimacy Mentor
The role of a mentor extends slightly past the wedding duties for Swahili. It is common for arranged Swahili marriages to have a mentor for the bride to educate her on the more intimate nature of marriage. The sensual helper does not merely pull out an anatomy book, however.
The mentor will lie under the marital bed and provide instruction for the beginner bride! Performance anxiety must be a killer for these couples!
Not Seeing Each Other Before the Big Day
Rewinding a century or two back makes it evident that the choice of partner was not the privilege of many grooms and brides. The tradition of the groom and bride not seeing each other before their wedding day had different reasoning behind it back then.
When arranged marriages were the norm, the respective parents of the bride and groom took no chances that either would flee and prevented any interaction before they were standing at the altar. But at least today, we turned it into a romantic tradition!
Saturday Brings No Luck at All
The English were fastidious about choosing the right day on which to marry, believing that each day of the week carried its own unique brand of being promising or unfortunate. To sum it up, they even had a little nursery rhyme: “Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth. Wednesday is the best of all. Thursday brings crosses and Friday losses, but Saturday brings no luck at all!”
Nowadays, we cannot leave it up to the forces of destiny but rather our work schedules!
Wearing the Ring on the Fourth Finger
Ancient Egyptians held the belief that the fourth finger of the left hand carried within it a very special vein: the love vein. Or, in Latin, the vena amoris. In modern times much is known about the circulatory system, and as endearing as this belief is, modern science can confirm there is no such vein.
The tradition persists, however, and in many societies across the globe – especially Western – married couples wear their wedding rings just as the ancient Egyptians used to.
Scottish Bride Blackening
The blackening of the bride is traditionally a Scottish custom whereby the bride, and sometimes the groom, is abducted by relatives and has an assortment of food, liquids, and just generally sticky stuff poured all over her!
As if this was not enough, she is then exhibited around town for a good old jeering. The roots of this odd custom are not known, but scholars believe it may have originated with the far nobler ceremony of washing the bride’s feet before her wedding.
Geese are monogamous, eternally devoted birds, and so they have inspired a Korean wedding custom. The goose, like the crane, is known for its faithfulness. Drawing wisdom from these feathered friends, Korean grooms had a tradition of gifting live geese to their mothers-in-law. Why their mothers-in-law?
To make a symbolic commitment that they will remain faithful to their daughters forever. In modern times, though, wooden geese are gifted instead for more, let’s say, practical reasons.
Venezuelan Couples Vanish!
Do not be surprised at a Venezuelan wedding if the bride and groom make a sudden appearance and then an equally sudden disappearance. Customary at Venezuelan weddings is for the bride and groom to arrive at the reception unannounced and simply slip in amongst the guests.
Their exit is equally perplexing as the newlyweds will simply vanish without saying a single farewell. Does this mean they won’t know if we didn’t buy them a gift?
Australian Sacred Stones
Australian couples are known for bestowing stones into the hands of their guests. No, this is not for throwing at the band if they suck. The guests hold the stones while the bride and the groom read their wedding vows to each other.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds collect the stones from their guests and place them in a decorative bowl. The bowl is then displayed in the marital home to symbolize the wedding guests' support on the wedding day.
Czech Bed Babies
If you are Czech, it would be wise to check your bed for any stray babies. Before a newlywed couple can make “full use” of their wedding bed, friends will sit a baby in their bed. The superstition is that the baby will magically confer enhanced fertility to the couple.
It is a bit presumptuous to assume that the couple’s intent for the bed is solely for procreation if you ask us! Do these people even know how satisfying sleep can be?
Selling the Groom's Tie, During the Wedding!
Industrious wedding guests in Spain found a way to fundraise for the bride and groom at the wedding ceremony itself. Spanish groomsmen slice and dice the groom’s tie into tiny pieces to sell to other wedding guests! All cash collected goes straight to the newlywed’s honeymoon fund.
The tradition has also extended to cutting up the bride’s garter and demanding cash for the pieces.
One could be forgiven to think that a Romanian fiancée has turned into a runaway bride. An enduring tradition in Romanian families is kidnapping the bride-to-be and making her future husband work to get her back from her takers!
He will have to follow a series of clues, and once he has located his fiancée, he must pay a ransom, sing a song, or bring a lot of alcohol to appease the captors!
Swedish Brides Hide Gold in Their Shoes
There is a tradition in the United Kingdom of the bride secreting a sixpence coin in her shoe. In Sweden, a similar tradition is followed but let us assure you; there is far more than sixpence in these stilettos!
At her wedding, a Swedish bride will receive a gold coin from her father and a silver coin from her mother to be placed in her shoes. The coins are meant to represent affluence, security, and happiness throughout the marriage.
American Bourbon Burial
In some parts of America, wedding guests will accompany the bride and groom to their chosen wedding venue a few weeks before the wedding and bury a bottle of Bourbon whiskey! The quirky gesture is to appease the rain gods and hope that they do not send clouds on the wedding day.
No matter the outcome of the wedding, the guests dig up the Bourbon and empty the bottle during the reception. If they remembered where they buried it, that is…
South African Firestarters
South Africa has a diverse array of cultures. A common tradition amongst many of them is the custom of carrying fire from the parental home to the newlywed’s home. Both sets of parents light a fire in their hearths and transfer the flame to the fireplace of the honeymooners.
This symbolic act represents the light of the parents being brought to a new life as their children create a new life.
The French Polynesian Carpet
Hopefully, the guests do not eat before this odd tradition takes place. In French Polynesia, it is not a red carpet that is laid out for the bride and groom to walk on; instead, it is the guests themselves! Relatives of the bride (all with healthy backs, presumably) lie face-down and side-by-side to allow the newlyweds to walk over their backs.
The origins of this tradition are obscure, and yet it is surprisingly still going strong nowadays.
Canadian Sock Dance
If you happen to be a younger sibling of a French-Canadian, do not encourage them to get married before you do. Or, at least, hold out their plans until after yours! At French-Canadian weddings, all older, unmarried brothers and sisters are expected to flash their most colorful socks while doing what only be described as a Riverdance!
The better they dance, the more cash is thrown their way – all of which goes to their newlywed sibling.
The Ominous Wedding Ring
The dropping of wedding rings has a very unsettling superstition from medieval times that has thankfully not made it into modern lore. A dropped wedding ring spelled nothing but doom for the groom or woe betide for the bride! The demise was dependent on who dropped the ring.
If the groom dropped it, he would depart this mortal realm before his wife. If the bride dropped it, she would be shuffling off the mortal coil sooner than him.
Danish Veil Vandalism
Sick and tired of those pre-marital poltergeists? The Danes sure are. The veil was conceived as a defense mechanism against wayward spirits seeking to hijack the bride and groom’s big day.
Once the wedding had been officiated, though, the spirits could not sink their paranormal claws into the bride, and, in celebration, the guests would rip the veil to pieces. Guests would carry these shreds as good luck charms.
In 1754, the British set in motion the Marriage Act. The act dashed the dreams of many young lovers as it strictly forbade marriage for any persons under the age of twenty-one without parental consent.
The ever-innovative Brits and Welsh found a loophole: hopping over the border to Gretna Green in Scotland. The Marriage Act had no jurisdiction in the tiny town, and starry-eyed lovers eloped en masse. Gretna Green serves as a premier wedding destination thanks to this charming history.