Falling in love is a universal experience. But there are as many ways to say ‘I do’ as there are individual couples. In some countries you cut the cake, in others, you break plates. Though different wedding traditions from around the world may seem unusual, each one is a unique expression of love and culture.
Whether you’re looking for a special wedding custom to kick off your forever or have questions about how to incorporate a cultural wedding tradition into your ceremony, this starter pack will help.
Planning a multi-cultural wedding
When the happy couple or their family hails from different parts of the world, it’s important that their cultural traditions be represented in the ceremony. For starters, infusing specific wedding customs into your celebration allows you to acknowledge and honor your family’s cultural background. It’s also a way to wow guests with an intimate look at your heritage.
Though it may not be feasible to wed exactly as your ancestors did, you can easily incorporate cultural elements into your big day by focusing on details such as:
- Décor– Have your wedding venue reflect your culture through visual elements like colors. For example, purple and gold represent royalty in many African societies. Designating them as your official wedding colors sends a strong homage.
- Song and dance– Music is a lovely cultural conduit. Hiring a band to play the traditional sounds of your homeland or engaging guests in customary dances can really set the mood.
- Food and drink– Create the menu to reflect your culture through the food of your people. If the venue has trouble accommodating, try serving a signature cocktail instead.
- Attire– With all eyes on the couple of the hour, you can say so much with your dress. In many Asian cultures, brides have multiple gowns both traditional and western. If you feel strongly that guests follow suit and wear a sari, for example, be sure to communicate that on the invite.
- Language– So much of one’s culture is communicated through our language. If hosting a multi-cultural wedding ceremony, you may want to recite your vows in a native tongue. You can also print translated versions of the wedding programs or vow transcriptions so guests can follow along.
Remember that it’s all about the details. Taking care with a few important cultural components will help your wedding guests get a sense of your family’s most important traditions.
Wedding customs from around the globe
Want to include some culture in your wedding ceremony but aren’t sure how? This sampling of cultural wedding traditions is a good starting point. Let them spark your own creative fuse and guide you in planning an unforgettable night.
In Spain, black mantilla veils symbolize devotion until death parts you. While Guatemalan tradition uses a silver rope to symbolically bind husband and wife.
At Filipino wedding receptions, two doves are released to close out the night. They are said to signify a long life of peace and harmony. Japanese culture also uses birds to represents luck, fortune, and fidelity, however, they do it with 1,001 gold origami cranes.
Attend a German wedding celebration and come prepared to purchase a wedding newspaper filled with memorabilia of the happy couple. The funds are designed to help offset honeymoon expense.
Greek custom of breaking dishes is said to help the marriage remain a happy, permanent one. If you need something a bit more tranquil, wish trees are a very sweet Dutch tradition that’s easy to incorporate into your wedding. Simply place a large branch or small tree at the venue entrance alongside paper strung with ribbon. Guests write their well-wishes in lieu of signing a guest book.
Australians use a decorative vessel called a ‘unity bowl’ as a special keepsake from the wedding day. Guests are given a stone to hold and imbue with their good intentions during the ceremony. They deposit the stones back into the bowl on the way to the reception. This way the newlyweds always have the support of their family as they start their new journey.