Between the books, the television shows, and the endless cinema weddings, most Americans grow up knowing all of the traditions. The stunning white dress, the exchange of rings, the dreamy first dance, and – of course – the toasts filled with stories, laughter, and love. The basics to getting married as a young American. However, blessed by our melting pot culture, in the real world we see glimpses of other cultural traditions mingling with these. Witnessing the unique ways different cultures express love can make it feel like you're traveling the world! Here are just a few to inspire your inner wanderlust or spark new ideas of how to express love on your very own special day!
INDIA – Mehndi Ceremony
Brides, the star of the show, are typically ornamented in beautiful head ware, floral, and jewelry. In Indian culture, brides have been taking it one step further for centuries and decorating their skin! This stunning art is one of many pre- and post-Indian ceremonies called the Mehndi. While there are multiple ways to host a Mehndi ceremony, typically the Mehndi is held with both families present on the eve of the wedding. The bride is given fantastically ornate henna upon her hands and feet. Popular designs often mimic peacock tails, paisley, floral, and some will even hide the groom's initials within the design for the groom to hunt for after the wedding! Some say the henna has calming properties, which helps the bride relax before her big day. Others say it is a fun and colorful tradition that allows family and friends from long distances to gather and rekindle before the wedding. And if you are looking to add some trend to this beautiful tradition, you can add glitter, beautiful stones, and even use white henna!
GERMANY – Baumstamm Sägen
The last thing brides want on their wedding day are chores and sweat, but in Germany, that is the first task after the ceremony! ‘Baumstamm Sägen’, which means log sawing, is meant to signify the married couple’s first obstacle together, to prepare them for the inevitable. They are to work together to show how they can overcome obstacles using teamwork. The couple is advised to enter straight into this tradition following the ceremony as to avoid any other obstacles before your "first" obstacle and to avoid any post-ceremony drinks! The fun doesn’t stop with the couple, the guests are encouraged to cheer as loud and as long as they can until the couple can successfully saw the log in two. A sweet additional touch would be to have a representative from each family set the log for the couple. Better yet, it is a physical token you take with you from your wedding day. You can have it engraved, painted, or hung just as is as a reminder to continue to work together!
CHINA – Tea Ceremony
In many modern American weddings, it is common to find friends and family of the bride and groom waiting on their every need, be it a lipstick touch up or a drink refill! In this 1200-year-old traditional Chinese wedding ceremony, the couple waits on their parents! Customarily there would be two ceremonies, one for the bride's family and one for the groom's family. The tradition has evolved over the years and is more oft practiced by the couple serving both families within the same ceremony. Serving their parents tea while kneeling before them is an act of gratitude and respect for raising, caring, and loving them. After serving their parents, the couple will serve other members in the family in order of seniority. Other than showing respect, this ceremony is filled with symbolic well-wishing. The tea is meant to represent pure love, stability in love, and healthy fertility. The tea is also traditionally a sweet tea, to wish the couple happiness and good relations with the new in-laws! The couple will wear red traditional clothing, kneel on red pillows, and the tea set will be red. Red symbolizes happiness and luck and with all that red, there is no such thing as too much luck!
BULGARIA – Breaking the Bread
Who wouldn't love a ceremony centering around bread! In Bulgaria, the mother of the bride will begin to bake a special pull apart bread called 'pitka' on the Thursday prior to the wedding. The rising of the pitka dough is meant to symbolize the creation of a new family. On the day of the ceremony, the mothers will feed the couple the bread dipped in honey, their way of welcoming them to the family and wishing them sweetness in life. After some well-deserved partying at the reception, the couple will be asked to hold a large loaf of bread over their heads. The couple will pull as hard as they can and whoever breaks off the larger half is said to be the one who will wear the pants! Good luck ladies!
BERMUDA – Cake Decorating
Two cakes are always better than one, right? In this case, traditional Bermuda weddings require individual cakes for the bride and for the groom. The groom gets a gorgeous pound cake covered in gold leaf to project wealth and prosperity for him while the bride gets a shiny silver coated three tier fruit cake soaked in rum to project fertility and purity. Both cakes are topped with cedar saplings. However, unlike most floral-ed cakes, these do not end up in the trash! The couple takes them home to be planted in their garden to symbolize their ever-growing love. Sweet cakes and a sweet message!
Whether it be a cultural tradition reflecting your heritage, a tradition within your family, or a new tradition between you and your spouse, it adds a unique touch that will captivate hearts and create strong memories for you and your family on your big day!
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