Marriage seems as old as time. The union between two people sharing the rest of their lives together is a beautiful tradition. Most wedding ceremonies we see in mainstream Western media love to show us all the classic traditions.
You’re already imagining the typical modern wedding in your head:
- White wedding dress
- Wedding bands
- Bouquet toss
- Cake cutting
- First dance
- Wedding vows
- Flower petals
You’ve seen it all in every chick flick rom com in the last 10 years.
What truly makes your wedding day special when the time comes is the traditions from your family, culture, and heritage. What your wedding guests will honestly remember about your wedding is how you made it a reflection of you and your bride or groom’s personality.
UK Wedding Tradition – Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue
A well-known wedding tradition in the UK focuses on items a bride should wear on her wedding day for good luck—something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
What Does Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue symbolise?
Many superstitions surround the rationale for brides wearing each item for the wedding ceremony. Below is a rough guide to what each item means:
- Something old – protects the bride and groom’s future children
- Something new – positivity for the future of the newly married couple
- Something borrowed – good luck
- Something blue – purity and fidelity
While this unique tradition might seem odd, for example, at Hindu weddings, it’s still a common tradition in the UK and among Europeans in British colonised countries.
South African Wedding Culture – The 12 Symbols of Life
In traditional South African weddings, items like salt, pepper, wine, and a broom are incorporated into the wedding ceremony. Each item on the couple’s wedding day symbolises different aspects of life together.
The 12 symbols of life
- Salt – symbolises the restoration and safeguarding of a matrimonial relationship
- Pepper – conveys the family will face challenging and intense situations in the future
- Wheat –stands for the ability to reproduce and bring forth life, as well as the act of providing land
- Wine – symbolises the fusion of the blood of two lineages
- Bitter Herbs – denotes the difficulties that arise as a result of the maturing process in marriage
- Holy Book – God’s power and truth are symbolised by either a Bible or Koran
- Broom – for the bride and groom to jump over, symbolising the “sweeping away” of the old to make room for the new
- Honey – to represent the sweet love between the newlyweds
- Spoon and Pot – signifying healthy meals to help build their family
- Spear – conveys guarding of the household and their community
- Shield – honour and pride of the household is symbolised by this
- Water – to represent the purification of negative emotions and the eradication of bitterness
While you might not be keen to trade your wedding cake for bitter herbs, each item incorporated has a deep and beautiful meaning for the couple’s life together.
Switzerland Wedding Ceremony – Breaking a Log
Also shared by Germans and Austrians, the Swiss have a tradition where the newly married couple saw a log in half together after signing their marriage contract to start the wedding celebrations. Cutting the log in half is a difficult task meant to symbolise the bride and groom overcoming obstacles together in their marriage.
If they can get through this challenge together, it’s believed they’re well set up for the challenges of marriage in the coming years.
Wedding Ceremonies in France Don’t Have Groomsmen and Bridesmaids?
In France, traditionally there are no bridesmaids or groomsmen. The couples have témoins or “witnesses” that stand next to them during the ceremony on their wedding day. Their témoins sign the wedding registry. These witnesses are not typically limited to same sex friends like bridesmaids and groomsmen. They’re still typically chosen from the couple’s close friends or family though.
Unlike the Westernised tradition of bridesmaids and groomsmen, témoins have more flexibility regarding what they wear on the wedding day. They don’t have to wear matching wedding party outfits like most modern weddings these days. The témoins also don’t follow any specific bridal party seating arrangements during the ceremony, and they can stand on either side of the bride and groom.
This French wedding ceremony tradition is gradually declining in popularity in France. Modern weddings in France are often influenced by American movies, meaning wedding customs like bridesmaids and groomsmen are now quite common.
Indonesian Wedding Day Purification
In Indonesia, before the holy matrimony, wedding traditions for the bride and groom can include a “Siraman” ceremonial ritual. During this pre-wedding ceremony, the soon-to-be married couple is bathed in petal and herb-infused water to purify themselves. Often, the bride and groom’s parents bathe the couple.
Wedding reception Haka in New Zealand
In Aotearoa New Zealand, the indigenous population called Māori often incorporate The Haka into their modern ceremony to honour a historic tradition from their culture.
The haka is a war dance most commonly known around the world because the All Blacks perform it before international rugby games.
At Māori weddings, the Haka is performed to honour the bride and groom during their wedding celebration.
Wedding Guests Gift Stones in Australia
A white wedding dress, the bride and groom cutting of the wedding cake, bridal party celebrations and a ring exchange are all familiar traditions in Australian weddings. Wedding customs in Australia are influenced mainly by British and American traditions. There are however still unique wedding traditions.
Stone ceremonies, also known as a wedding unity bowl, are a tradition that is unique to wedding ceremonies in Australia. The couple’s friends and family are invited to place stones in a bowl. The stones can have names or words of encouragement for the couple’s future together and are often brilliant colours and shapes.
Each of these traditions reflects the unique cultural heritage and practices of these countries, offering a diverse perspective on wedding rituals from around the world.
From Indonesian to Australian weddings, there’s always a common theme. Family members and friends of the bride and groom want to include wedding traditions on and before the wedding date to set the couple up for success in their marriage.
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