Wedding Customs From Around The World

Bride wearing a green and orange kimono and groom wearing a black tux and purple floral lei on their wedding day.
Photography by Cameron Ingalls – see more at

Whether you’re just curious how other couples celebrate their wedding day around the world or want to add a little international pizzazz to your wedding-below you’ll find a collection of global wedding practices for your reading pleasure.

Africa – Africa is a big continent with many cultures and traditions. And since we can’t include traditions from the entire continent, here are a few interesting African wedding customs:

  • Morocco: The bride takes a bath first thing on her wedding day symbolizing purification. Next she is painted with henna on her hands and feet. And after the vows are exchanged, the bride walks around her new home three times as if to claim her new status as “lady of the house.”
  • South Africa: On the day of the wedding, the parents of the bride and groom take a burning coal from their respective households and start a fire in the home of the newlyweds symbolizing the coming together of two families.
  • West Africa: Also as a symbol of two families joining, the mother of the bride and the father of the groom walk together while the mother of the groom and the father of the bride walk together to the ceremony.

China – To ward off evil spirits, the wedding processional begins with a literal bang – drums, gongs, and firecrackers from the groom’s house to the bride’s home.

Finland – As the bride and groom begin their first dance as husband and wife, the groom’s mother balances a plate on her head. When the plate falls to the floor the pieces are counted and the pieces represent how many children the couple will have yikes!

Greece – Symbolizing sweetness and abundance, the bride carries a lump of sugar in her glove down the aisle. It is also common for wedding guests to smash plates at the reception for good luck.

Mexico – The bride sews yellow, blew and red ribbons to her undergarments in hopes to invoke the abundance of money, food and passion in the marriage. Pearls are considered bad luck in Mexico as they symbolize tears and grief.

Philippines – The Philippines is a country rich in traditions that were originally introduced by Spanish missionaries. Many witnesses are also known as sponsors. Sponsors have characteristics and qualities that the couple would love to gain amongst their married life.

India (Hindu) – First, the couple prays to the Hindu god Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and negative energy. Instead of exchanging rings, the couple will exchange marigold garlands as a symbol of their everlasting commitment.

Ireland – In the Celtic tradition, Claddagh rings are exchanged. The Claddagh ring portrays two hands holding a crowned heart. The hands represent friendship and faith, the heart stands for love, and the crown symbolizes loyalty and honor.

Italy – In another dish-smashing ceremony, the bride and groom break a glass or vase into as many pieces as possible. The number of pieces represent the number of years the will remain happily married.

Japan – The bride wears a kimono; a long, wide-sleeved robe tied with a sash. Over the course of the day the bride will wear several outfits. For the wedding ceremony itself, the bride is covered head to toe in white. Her hair is covered with a white cloth, her face is painted white and she will wear an all white kimono symbolizing the beginning of a new life and the death of her childhood.

Russia – The bride and groom race each other to the altar where they will say their vows. The winner is declared the head of the household. Hopefully it will be a tie.

Scotland – The night before the wedding, the bride’s friends hold a feet-washing ceremony for the bride as a ritual of purification and honoring. One of the married women in the group places her wedding ring in the water and the woman who finds the ring is said to be the next one to marry.

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about the author
Sarah Sarah has been editing the blog at mywedding for four years. She enjoys watching classic movies, spending money on eyeliner that she never wears, and convincing brides to write thank you notes.

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