A silver six pence in your shoe? The throwing of your bouquet? The money dance?
Have you ever wondered where some of these wedding traditions originate from? What do they mean and why do we do them?
I’ve been thinking a lot about wedding traditions lately, after a recent crash course in Slovak wedding traditions courtesy of my gorgeous sister-in-law-to-be who has been educating me. (We won’t talk about the kidnapping of the bride tradition)! It highlighted that there are many wedding traditions that are hugely universal and not unique to British weddings, it also reminded me that there are some gorgeous international wedding traditions that could inspire anyones wedding day, regardless of cultural heritage or faith .
Did you know Moroccan weddings last for 7 days?! Yes really!
The meaning behind some of the wedding traditions I have discovered, are absolutely beautiful and share many values and foundations we all have in common; love, unity, family, acceptance.
So I have rounded up a few of my favourite wedding traditions and the meaning behind them to inspire your wedding day.
(This is about as football related as I can get!)
Wedding Party: Traditionally Brazilian wedding parties do not have bridesmaids and groomsmen, instead their wedding party consists of both married couples, your relatives (your brother and an aunt for example) and single friends. A great alternative if you don’t want your bridal party or ushers to be gender specific!
Tea Ceremony – is a Chinese tradition that allows the couple to honour and show gratitude to both sets of parents for bringing them up. Drinking the tea is incredibly symbolic and this means the parents accept the couple as husband and wife and into their families.
The tea is usually made by a relative known as ‘the good luck woman’ sharing auspicious phrases to bless the couple in their marriage and with the gift of children. (Apparently you have to pick a relative who is blessed with a healthy marriage to do this role!)
Our very own: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe. This tradition is passed down from the Victorian era. It is custom for brides to wear – or represent all of the above in some way on her wedding day which symbolise good luck ( I forgot the silver sixpence part, so I guess I am doomed! LOL). It’s common to choose one item that meets all or most of the above criteria.
On my wedding day I wore an old necklace, a new pair of shoes from Mr Nu Bride, borrowed a frame from a friend, wore a subtle blue ribbon on my garter.
Brides Garter: The groom removes his brides garter and throws the garter to an assembled group of unmarried men attending the wedding. The person who catches it is thought to be the next to get married.
Brides Bouquet – The bride tosses her bouquet to an assembled group of women (usually single) the person who catches it is thought to be the one who gets married next!
Knocking on the Door: Along with many cultures, marriage has a huge emphasis on family in African cultures. This is celebrated in Ghana with the knocking on the door tradition – where the groom and his family visit the parents of the bride-to-be to seek permission to marry, by bearing various gifts for the future-in-laws. If the knock is accepted then the wedding planning can commence, if not, well….. (I’d be mortified if the folks were out!)
Brides Shoes: I love this tradition! Whilst getting dressed for her wedding, the bride writes all of her single friends names on the soles of her wedding shoes (not sure how this would fair on a pair of red-soled Louboutins)! At the end of the night, the name that has remained without being rubbed off is thought to be the next person in line to get married!
Money Dance: A well-known Greek tradition where the bride and groom dance together holding a handkerchief and guests then take it in turns to pin-money (usually large notes) to the couple
Tie the Knot – In traditional Hindu (and some African) weddings, couples actually ‘Tie the knot’ during their wedding ceremony this is a tradition called the Gath Bandhan (Tying of the Nuptial Knot)
Scarves are placed around the bride and groom which are then tied together in a knot, symbolising an eternal bond and promise to be faithful in their marriage and also to God. Further details on Indian wedding traditions can also be found here.
Seven Steps: Seven Steps Together – are a gorgeous Hindu tradition called the Saptapardi
The newlyweds literally take seven steps together after their ceremony which symbolise the beginning of their married lives together. Each step represents a marital vow:First step: To respect and honor each other
Second step: To share each other’s joy and sorrow
Third step: To trust and be loyal to each other
Fourth step: To cultivate appreciation for knowledge, values, sacrifice and service
Fifth step: To re-confirm their vow of purity, love family duties and spiritual growth
Sixth step: To follow principles of Dharma (righteousness) Seventh step: To nurture an eternal bond of friendship and love
Ring Warming Ceremony: Now it is not entirely clear where this very beautiful and more modern tradition originated, however, it is common in secular weddings and used in many Irish weddings. During the wedding ceremony (BEFORE) the exchange of rings. The couple’s wedding rings are passed around to each guest, in order for them to hold them for a short while to say a silent blessing, prayer, hope, wish or dream for the bride and groom, before passing them back to the officiant. The ring is now filled with an abundance of love and well wishes right in time for the couples formal exchange of the rings.
Togetherness – I LOVE this idea. The Yichud (in Hebrew) tradition offers the newlyweds a moment straight after the wedding ceremony for private reflection and seclusion for up to 20 minutes, away from family and friends. The Yichud is a formality that concludes the ceremony.
Best idea – those 20 minutes together are like gold dust for a couple on their wedding day!
Super Chuppah of Dreams | Essential Couture
Chuppah – Jewish wedding ceremonies traditionally take place underneath an arch structure called a Chuppah. A Chuppah symbolises a couples new foundation, shelter. The four posts, represent the four walls of a home and are usually held up by close friends family, symbolising their support, strength and love for the couple. Gorgeous. A great reference for Jewish wedding traditions is super blog; Smashing the Glass
Breaking the Plate: This tradition takes place before the party (wedding reception). A plate is broken, and the newlyweds have to sweep up the broken pieces. Sweeping the broken pieces up together symbolises unity and working together as a couple. I am told the bride has to make sure she gets every broken piece – as they represent children that the groom will have outside the marriage – (Crikey- that’s a bit sinister!) (This is also a German wedding tradition)
Soup: The wedding dinner (breakfast) starts with the newlyweds sharing one bowl of Chicken noodle soup, taking turns to feed each other. The sharing of the soup symbolises sharing and caring for one another (I think this is gorgeous) apparently some couples are a bit messy and get customised wedding bibs made to wear too. (Brilliant!)
Bride and Groom Entrance: traditionally couples would enter their wedding ceremony together. The first persons foot to enter the threshold indicates who would wear the ‘trousers’ in the relationship. lol! A beautiful alternative and lovely idea especially for brides who have lost, or do not wish to be given away by their father.
And now you see why I LOVE weddings!
What’s your favourite and do you have any you would like to add?
Some other useful references on wedding traditions around the world: http://www.bernardpretorius.com/greek-wedding-photography-orthodox-traditions/ http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-customs/articles/wedding-customs-and-traditions-from-around-the-globe.aspx