Stealing the groom’s shoes may be a run-of-the-mill tradition at some Indian weddings, but may seem outrageous to others. Similar customs across the globe can stun or amuse you with their absurdity. Here’s a list of fun, quirky and some simply strange traditions that will surprise you…
In Cuba, dancing with the bride isn’t free
As the tradition goes in this Caribbean island nation, every man who dances with the bride has to pin money to her dress. This practice is meant to act as a helping hand and fund the couple’s honeymoon and new lives together.
Bride-napping is ‘fun’ in Romania
Before the wedding, friends and family whisk the bride away to an undisclosed location. And to get her back, the groom has to pay her ‘ransom’ with romantic gestures or acts such as buying a round of drinks for the ‘kidnappers’.
In Italy, serenading the bride is still a thing
As the ‘La Serenata’ tradition goes, the night before the wedding, an Italian groom throws a party outside the window of his bride-to-be. The affair often turns into a full-blown bash with the couple’s friends and family.
Lucky single ladies in Peru may find love, in the cake
Wedding cakes in Peru are assembled with ribbons sticking out of the sides. Each ribbon is attached to a charm, one of which is a fake wedding ring. It’s believed that the woman who draws this ribbon in the ‘cake pull’ at the reception is the next in line for marriage.
Brides in Spain sometimes dress in black
Although many brides opt for white today, Spanish women traditionally wear a black dress with a black lace veil called a mantilla for their wedding. For Catholic brides in Spain, the black signifies the woman’s commitment and devotion to her man until death.
Germany tests the couple’s strength
The ‘Baumstamm Sägen’ tradition entails newlyweds sawing a log in half together, still dressed in their wedding attire, as guests watch. It’s meant to symbolise how well the couple will face obstacles together in their marriage.
In the Philippines, they release birds
This Filipino custom involves the bride and groom releasing a pair of doves together on their wedding day. The birds are thought to symbolise peace and harmony for the couple’s life ahead.
Brides in Kenya can’t be offended if they’re spit on...
As spitting on someone is seen as a show of respect for the Maasai people. Before the couple leaves the village, the father of the bride spits on his daughter’s head and breasts to bless her.
In Indonesia and Malaysia, you have to hold it all in—quite literally
Newlyweds of the Tidong tribe of Borneo and the surrounding islands of Indonesia and Malaysia are barred from using the bathroom—for anything— for the first three days of their marriage. This confinement is meant to strengthen their bond— and apparently their bladders.
A wedding is a very serious affair in the Republic of Congo
Weddings are an exciting affair the world over, but Congolese couples dare not show it. All through their wedding day, right from the ceremony to the reception, the bride and groom are not allowed to smile. And if they do, it would mean they aren’t serious about marriage.
It’s all about baby-making from Day 1 in the Czech Republic
Before a couple ties the knot, an infant is placed on their bed ‘to bless and enhance their fertility’. And once they’ve wed, guests shower them with lentils, rice, or peas—also meant to promote fertility.
Brides in China redefine ‘tears of joy’
Brides-to-be of the Tujia community practice crying for an hour every day for a month before their wedding—ironically to express their joy. One week in, her mother joins in; two weeks in, her grandmother; and finally, her sisters.
In Venezuela, it’s good luck for newlyweds to pull a disappearing act
It’s considered a sign of luck if newlyweds in Venezuela manage to sneak away without getting caught before their reception comes to an end. It’s also considered good luck for whichever guest first notices that they’re gone.
The groom must prove his worth in Russia
On the morning of the wedding, custom has a Russian man going to his bride’s parents’ home to prove he’s worthy of his bride. He pays a ‘ransom’ for his lady love, showering her family with gifts and even putting up music and dance performances, often humiliating himself. All in the name of love!
The real ‘grooms’ men are in Greece
On his wedding day, a Greek groom’s best man also turns into his personal barber and has to shave his face. A sweet plus side: after he’s freshly shaved, his new mother-in-law will feed him honey and almonds.
Feel free to steal a kiss from the bride or groom in Sweden
Whenever a Swedish bride leaves the table, all the ladies at the reception can kiss the groom. The gender-neutral tradition allows all gentlemen around to plant a peck on the bride whenever the groom leaves the room, as well. No jealousy allowed!
It’s a bridal bouquet with a twist in Wales
A Welsh bride’s bouquet includes myrtle, an herb that symbolises love. After the wedding, the bride gives a cutting to each of her bridesmaids. The theory: if the myrtle cutting blooms after a bridesmaid plants it, she’ll be the next bride.
Newlyweds have a banging first night in France—not the kind you might think
The ‘Charivari’ tradition in France is not the kind of banging first night a couple would usually envision. Family and friends gather outside the newlyweds’ house and bang on pots and pans. They are later served with drinks and snacks.
In Scotland, it’s a one-sided food fight
There’s a nasty blackening of the bride and groom tradition here. The Scots pelt the couple with all kinds of food trash, from rotten eggs to spoiled milk and fish, believing that if they can withstand this unpleasantness, they can handle anything that life throws at them, together.
Which tradition out of all these would you like to see followed on your own wedding day?
This has been adapted from a story originally published in the HELLO! India’s October 2021 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!