Tying the Knot
Wedding Traditions from
around the world…
Source: http://www.worldweddingtraditions.com/
The word “wed” is derived from the ancient Greek word for
“pledge.” And that’s exactly what a wedding is, no matter
what country it takes place in, no matter what culture it’s part
of. To wed is to pledge yourself to another. There are few acts
we perform that are more pure or more beautiful than the act
of marriage.
Marriage is the most solemn pledge we make in our lifetimes.
Traditionally the wedding pledge is made in front of family and
friends who take special pains to stand up and witness our
pledge. The wedding pledge is to be true and faithful and
loving to another human being. To wed is both the most basic
of all human pledges, and at the same time the most sublime.
Marriage carries with it the most solemn of promises, but it
also embodies the potential for the greatest joy of human
existence – the pure joy that flows from two hearts beating as
one. There are few joys in life as deep or as long lasting as
the joy that springs from the well of true love and a lasting
Soul Mates
Two people that are so in-tune with the wants and the
needs and the desires of the other that often words are not
necessary. A mere glance between two lovers speaks
In almost all cultures the marriage
ceremony ends with the exchanging of a
kiss. The wedding kiss transcends cultures;
it is one of the very few things that bind all
of us together as human beings. From
ancient times to the modern day, from the
deepest jungles to the tallest skyscrapers,
the wedding kiss symbolizes for all people
everywhere the physical uniting of two
An African wedding is, more than anything, the bringing
together of two people as a single family, or the combining
of two families or tribes into one family unit. Wedding
ceremonies are large and colorful celebrations that can last
several days.
There are more than 1,000 cultural units in Africa and each
culture, each tribe has its own wedding and marriage
In many places in Africa young girls are trained to be good
wives from an early age. They may even learn secret codes
and secret languages that allow them to talk with other
married women without their husbands understanding
what is being said.
In Sudan and in other areas along the Nile a man must pay
his wife’s family in sheep or cattle for the loss of their
daughter’s labor in support of the family. A wife may cost a
man as many as 30 to 40 head of cattle. Often it is difficult
to pay the family yet still have enough cattle left to support
his new wife.
In Somalia a man is allowed to have as many as four wives
if he can support them all, and it is not uncommon for a
girl to be engaged before she is even born.
In Japan, the color purple represents love and a young bride may choose to
wear an elaborately-embroidered silk kimono covered in purple iris-flowers.
Weddings are traditionally either Shinto, during which the natural spirits-- the
kami-- are called upon to bless the couple, or it might be a Buddhist ceremony
during which two strings of beads are interwoven, symbolizing the joining of
two families into one.
Chinese traditions held that the gift of a whole roast pig given by the groom’s
family to the bride’s family was an appropriate engagement gift. The traditional
wedding gown in China is bright red, symbolizing luck for the new couple.
Chinese bridal gowns are traditionally adorned with elaborate golden
phoenixes, chrysanthemums and peonies, symbols of wealth and good fortune.
The groom traditionally wears a black silk coat over a robe embroidered with a
dragon, and you can expect loud firecrackers at a Chinese wedding to scare off
evil spirits.
In Indonesia it is not uncommon for more than 1,000 guests to be invited to
the wedding reception and it is customary for the bride and the groom to greet
each guest in a long receiving line before the reception festivities can begin.
In Korea it is traditional for a fortune-teller, known as a kung-hap, to look into
the couple’s future before they are married in order to see if they will live
harmoniously together. A harmonious union is very important since the
engagement gifts alone for a traditional Korean wedding can cost upwards of
Chinese character “Ai”-- Love
Traditional Chinese Wedding Dress
Japanese Wedding with White Kimono
Korean Wedding
In many parts of the Middle East it is common for five different parties to be thrown for the wedding
1. Engagement party-- The bride and groom invite family and friends and a festive party is thrown,
with special foods and much dancing and singing and happy music. Engagement parties can go on
late into the night. During the party the bride often changes her dress up to five times!!
The second party takes place on the day the bride and groom go to the courthouse and sign their
marriage contract. Again family and friends are invited and there is much celebration, much music and
dancing and song. Once again, it is customary for the bride to change her dress as often as five times
during the party.
The third party takes place one day before the wedding and is second only in size to the party on the
wedding day itself. This third party is named the Hena party. The word Hena might sound familiar; It’s
a dye that is used to make special tattoos to the hands and feet of the bride, especially, to ward off
evil spirits. This is also the party at which the “grinding” takes place. In many parts of the Middle East
the bride and groom are seated while several unmarried girls hold a white cloth on their heads. The
“grinding girl” then grinds together two lumps of sugar above the couples’ heads while asking God
(Allah) to repel all evil spirits from the young couple’s life. It is traditional for the bride to wear a
green dress at the Hena party and the party traditionally continues until dawn on the day of the
Following the wedding itself, at which the bride and groom exchange wedding rings – it is thought, by
the way, that the wedding ring originated in the Middle East – there is the biggest party of them all.
This wedding party is very similar to the receptions following U.S. and European weddings, with
speeches, and much dancing and singing and traditional Middle Eastern music. Very often each guest
is given five almond pieces, each almond piece symbolizing one of the five sacred wedding wishes:
health, happiness, wealth, fertility and longevity.
The Middle East
Veiled Muslim brides wait for their mass wedding.
In Belize, weddings are a very joyous occasion. Fiends and family fill the church
while the rest of the villagers peer in through the doors and windows, anxious
not to miss a moment. While the groom and his best man stand at the alter, the
bride waits outside the church until the moment of her grand entrance.
Unlike a more sedate North American wedding, the bride may waltz or strut or
dance to the alter, accompanied by her father or another male member of the
family. As is true almost the world over, at the conclusion of a Belize wedding
ceremony (almost always Catholic) the bride and groom exchange rings, the
universal symbol of never-ending love, and then kiss to seal their union before
family and friends.
In Guatemala, it is common for girls to marry quite young and to have many
children. It is important for everyone, from the youngest baby to the oldest
grandparent or great grandparent to attend a wedding. Flowers are everywhere
and there is much dancing and singing and happy, joyous music everywhere.
In a traditional Guatemalan wedding it is customary for the bride and groom to
be bound together with a silver rope symbolizing their eternal union. It is also
common for the bride and her bridesmaids and her flower girls to all wear
matching white wedding gowns.
About 40% of all weddings in Guatemala are Mayan, and
follow ancient Mayan customs and traditions. Flowers are
everywhere at a Guatemalan wedding, and the ceremony
is followed by much singing and dancing and rejoicing.
Central America
There is no such thing as a best man at a
Caribbean Island wedding. The bride’s father
or often both of her parents escort her down
the aisle with her face hidden by a veil. At the
end of the ceremony, which is often a mixture
of Catholic and Mayan and African, the groom
lifts the veil and kisses his new bride to the
cheering of family and friends.
A Caribbean Island wedding reception can go
on all night, with traditional steel-drum island
music, lots and lots of sweet but potent rum
punch, wild dancing and many toasts to the
health and happiness of the new couple.
Among the many wonderful hand-made gifts
which are traditional at Caribbean weddings
are exquisite hand-made quilts and homemade furniture.
 A typical wedding feast features curried goat
and spicy chicken jerky
The food at a typical island reception reflects
the uniqueness of the Islands. Where else in
the world would you find curried goat, spicy
chicken jerky, fried plantains and conch fritters
at a wedding feast?
According to German wedding tradition, when a baby girl is born in Germany, several trees are
planted in honor of her birth. When her wedding date is set, the trees are sold, and the money
is used for her dowry.
A unique German pre-wedding custom is the creation of a wedding newspaper by the friends
and family of the bride and groom. This newspaper, or booklet, is filled with pictures, articles
and stories of the engaged couple. The newspaper is sold at the wedding reception, to assist
with the expenses of the honeymoon.
A traditional wedding day, in Germany, could actually last three days. First, German couples
who are getting married must have a civil ceremony at the city center, which only family and
close friends attend.
The next night is the big wedding party. The bride and groom invite all of their friends,
neighbors and acquaintances. German wedding tradition says it's good luck for guests to bring
old dishes to break. The newlyweds then sweep up the broken pieces together, symbolizing
that nothing will ever be broken in their house again.
On the third day, the German religious wedding ceremony takes place. German brides do not
have traditional wedding attendants except for flower girls.
Sometime during the vows, when the couple are on their knees, the groom might kneel on his
brides wedding dress to show who will be 'wearing the pants' in the relationship. When they
stand, the bride might step on her groom's foot to show otherwise.
As the newlyweds leave the wedding chapel, they throw coins to the children watching.

Tying the Knot - Ball State University