Weddings are a big deal, wherever you are in the world. We have a long list of wedding customs here in New Zealand that couples have the freedom to include or dismiss on their wedding day.
Our list of wedding customs may be long but for some countries, it’s much longer.
Let’s take a look at some of the most fascinating wedding customs from around the world.
The Greek do whatever they can to ensure the couple have the best of luck in their marriage. Starting with the wedding date, Greek weddings are carefully planned with luck in mind.
According to the Greeks, there are certain dates that should be avoided at all costs. These are:
- The first two weeks of August. These are devoted to the Virgin Mary
- Lent – 40 days before Easter.
- August 29 – the death of Saint John the Baptist.
- September 14 – the celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
- The 40 days leading up to Christmas.
The best man and the maid of honour are named koumbaro and koumbara respectively.
The koumbaro will shave the groom on the morning of the wedding before the rest of the groomsmen step in to help dress the groom.
The koumbara leads the bridesmaids in dressing the bride.
The koumbaro and koumbara will become godparents to the couple’s children.
The names of the single women are written on the bride’s shoes. It’s believed that the names which have worn off by the end of the night will be the women who will be married soon.
Both the bride and groom carry various trinkets as part of their wedding attire. The bride will carry a lump of sugar to ensure a sweet life and she will have a coin sewn to her shoe as a symbol of financial prosperity. The groom will carry a piece of iron in his pocket to ward off evil spirits.
In Greece, odd numbers signify luck so the couple will have an odd number of guests as well as an odd number in their bridal party. The perfect number of bridesmaids and groomsmen is three as three represents the holy trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Irish wedding customs are symbolic of the Celtic roots that bring the Irish people together. Irish couples still include these traditions in their weddings today to bring luck and prosperity to their marriage.
When the engagement is first announced, the groom-to-be has dinner with his future in-laws. This tradition named Aitin’ the Gander is where the couple signs an elaborate marriage agreement called The Bindings. The Bindings is a contract outlying the finer details of the marriage, including how the couple plan to care for their parents in their old age. Once the agreement is signed and the dinner is eaten, the expectations of the marriage are locked in place.
Unlike New Zealand weddings, Saturday is the least favourite day of the week to get married in Ireland.
Monday for wealth
Tuesday for health
Wednesday the best day of all.
Thursday for losses
Friday for crosses
And Saturday no luck at all.
Wednesday it is then.
Irish brides often wear wildflowers in their hair and carry an upright horseshoe for good luck. During the ceremony, the couple undergoes traditional Celtic handfasting where their hands are tied together with ribbon or cord.
Since ancient times, wedding guests have raised a glass of mead to the couple. Mead is a fermented honey drink that is used to toast the newlyweds. Traditionally, a month’s supply of mead is given to the couple to give them enough for a full moon cycle. This is where we get the term ‘honeymoon’.
Chinese wedding customs are still very important, with most customs still firmly present at all weddings.
When the groom first arrives at his soon-to-be bride’s house, he is met with a range of tasks set out by the bride’s friends. The girls will watch as the groom performs the tasks and ask him to hand over red packets of money if he wants them to release their friend to him. This haggling is all fun and games and the bride is eventually handed over.
The ceremony itself is only a small element of the day. Couples often sign their marriage license in a registry office with close family and friends.
It’s common for families to host a banquet after the ceremony. This could last for several days. The banquet could be up to 10 courses and filled with highly symbolic food. The banquet is one of the most commonly used traditions today.
The bride undergoes several costume changes during the course of the banquet and celebrations. While many still wear the traditional qipao dress during the ceremony, it’s usual for the bride to have several ceremony outfits as well as several celebration outfits. The more the merrier!
After the banquet, the bride is introduced to her husband’s extended family and friends and given a gift from each that reflects her husband’s status within the family. Two days later, the bride will return to her parent’s home as a guest as she is now officially a member of her husband’s family.
Wedding customs in Russia are often exciting and quirky, setting the tone for a fun day of celebrations for the bride and groom.
Russian brides and grooms do not share our superstitions about seeing each other before the wedding. In fact, Russian grooms will collect their brides to bring them to the wedding.
But it’s not that easy. The bride will set up an obstacle course on her stairwell or at the entrance of her home. The groom will have to pass quizzes, pay bribes and answer questions on his journey to his bride. Even though he arrives to collect her, they will still travel to the ceremony in separate cars.
Before the couple leave for the ceremony, they are given a sweet bread called Karavay. The bride and groom must take a bite from each end. Whoever takes the biggest bite is said to be the one who will ‘wear the pants’ in the household.
Like Chinese weddings, Russian ceremonies take place at the registry office. Church weddings do not have legal recognition in Russia. Celebrations begin when the couple’s friends and family shower them with rice, chocolate, money and flower petals on their way out of the registry office.
Russian newlyweds often use historical sites as their photography backdrops, some even paying respects to fallen soldiers of WW2 in their wedding photos.
If the groom appears to be lacking in his affection for his new bride during post-ceremony celebrations, his friends will snatch her away (all in good fun, of course). The groom must pay a ransom in order to collect his bride from her pretend abduction.
Jamaican weddings are festive and vibrant. Celebrations last all night and weddings are often large in order to include as many people as possible.
Jamaican weddings celebrate the family and the community. Rather than mailing invitations to a select few, the doors are open to the entire community at the ceremony site, welcoming whoever would like to attend.
There are many special Jamaican dishes that are traditionally served at weddings. One, in particular, is a curried goat. The couple typically selects the goat to be prepared. The meat is stewed for several hours to ensure the guests are served a rich, flavoursome goat curry.
The wedding cake is a particularly special element of Jamaican weddings. So special, in fact, that the cake has a procession of its own and is carried down the aisle under a veil and kept hidden until the couple is ready to cut it. The cake itself is full of tropical flavours and spices. It is then soaked in rum for weeks to add moisture and even more flavour.
It’s common for Jamaican weddings to be held in the groom’s back yard with celebrations lasting through to the break of dawn. The newlyweds will make the most of every moment with their guests, dancing until the wee hours of the morning.
Croatian wedding customs date back hundreds of years, many of which are unique to specific regions. We will highlight the most commonly-used wedding customs still used in Croatia today.
Rosemary is used to welcome wedding guests, with each guest receiving a small branch to pin to the left side of their chest as a corsage. Often wrapped in the colours of the Croatian flag, the Rosemary is said to ward off evil spirits.
Like they do in Russia, Croatia also has a way of finding out who will be the leader of the household. After the wedding, the bride and groom will try to stand on each other’s feet. Whoever manages to step on their new spouse’s foot first is the winner.
Guests will have their own chance to dance with the bride but they must give money to the maid of honour first. The maid of honour will then decide, based on how big the donation, how long the guest is allowed to dance with the bride for. The more money you give, the longer your dance will be. Guests are also allowed to pay more than once.
We host a lot of Indian weddings here at Markovina and we always look forward to them. Vibrant, colourful and always with large guest numbers, traditional Indian weddings are wonderful occasions.
Indian wedding customs are still a very prominent part of Indian weddings. Traditionally, Indian weddings last three days but several days prior to the first wedding day, the bride and groom exchange prayers, flowers and gold rings. The groom’s parents will also gift the bride with a basket of gifts and rock sugar (misri) to symbolise a sweet future.
In Hindu tradition, the groom ties a mangalsultra around the bride’s neck, rather than exchange wedding rings. The mangalsultra is a necklace with two pendants and is tied in three knots to a strong bond for 100 years.
The most unique part about Indian weddings is the colours. The attire, the decorations, the jewellery – it really is spectacular. The bride herself is dress in a carefully-selected 16-piece outfit called a solar shringar. This includes her makeup, clothing and a notable piece of wedding jewellery called the mangtikka – a large jewel on her forehead. While the groom’s attire is not quite as elaborate, the guests will all dress in a traditional sari or lengha.
Traditional Indian weddings take place under a mandap. This is a four-pillared canopy decorated with colourful flower arrangments.
Worldwide, wedding customs date far back through history and it’s not always known how they originated in the first place. But these long-standing beliefs have been handed down as gestures of luck and prosperity for the happy couple.
At Markovina Vineyard Estate we host many cultural wedding and we love to see what wedding customs the couple chooses to include.
If you’re looking for somewhere to hold a cultural wedding, Markovina is the perfect venue. Our space is a canvas for cultural decorations and large wedding parties so call us today.