So many green brides are seeking more and more ways to feel connected with the natural world on their wedding days, and the Swiss set a fine example to follow. Of course, you don’t have to be in the Swiss mountains to try some of its lovely customs on your own big day. Having recently visited this amazing country, I decided to take a peek into some of its most memorable wedding traditions to share with my stateside ladies.
Trees play a significant role in Swiss weddings, although they tend to shine most after the ceremony. Evergreen trees are a symbol of fertility and luck, so couples take their first steps as newlyweds on the walk to their wedding car over a path laid with fresh evergreen boughs. When the couple arrives in their home, they plant a pine tree in their yard as a representation of fertility and their hopes for the future together.
Giving guests small pine tree favors is a great way to follow this tradition here in the USA.
But not all of Switzerland’s arboreal customs are quite so easy. A tradition called “Baumstamm Sägen,” which translates as “log sawing,” is practiced primarily in the Swiss-German regions (as well as in Germany), and it’s exactly what it sounds like. As the newlyweds exit their wedding celebration, they’re presented with a log on a sawhorse, blocking their path. In order to pass, the couple must saw the log in half with a two-handled saw! This is a symbol of the couple’s ability to work together in order to overcome any obstacle they may encounter in their married life.
If you’re planning on making your own wedding bouquet or floral arrangements as a cost-saving measure, the Swiss ladies are a great lead to follow. Historically in Lucerne (a region in Switzerland), the young women invited to the wedding will meet on the evening prior to assemble nosegays and buttonhole flowers for the men to wear to the celebration on the following day. The custom was to leave their miniature masterpiece on the doorstep of their favorite local lad as a sign of their affection.
But the floral fun doesn’t stop there in Switzerland. As in so many other cultures, many brides wear floral crowns or flowers braided into their hair as a symbol of their maidenhood. Also, they’re just plain pretty, and with the beauty of the alpine wildflowers in Switzerland, who can blame them? Some brides make their own, but there are many pre-made sustainable options too!
If you’re planning on attending a Swiss wedding (and I sure hope for your sake that you are), be prepared to participate in the evening’s entertainment. Traditionally, guests perform plays, skits and songs, and participate in games... so don’t expect to be a wallflower! You should also come prepared to spend time outdoors - it’s not terribly uncommon to end up in a field.
And remember, you don’t have to be in Switzerland to enjoy the Swiss traditions in your own wedding. Incorporate their appreciation for their natural surroundings into your green celebration for a unique, eco-friendly twist!