Wedding Traditions from Around the World

When attending a wedding, at least in Canada or the US, you might expect certain rituals: brides wearing wedding veils down the aisle; bouquet or garter tosses to the guests. But that’s just what’s common in North America. Across the globe, hundreds of wedding rituals exist, colorful in storytelling and symbolism.

Learn about a few fascinating wedding traditions from around the globe

After reading about these traditions, you may even be inspired to bring an old tradition from your heritage to your wedding day.

It’s important to note that we picked some of the most common traditions from different regions. Within the countries listed below, there are many different ethnic groups whose rituals are diverse. We encourage reading beyond this blog post to learn more.

China

Image Sources: 100layercake.com via Pinterest

Red is an auspicious color for Chinese weddings, symbolizing loyalty and love. The bride and maid of honor will typically wear red silk dresses, so guests should avoid wearing the color. Black and white should also be avoided, as those shades are reserved for funerals.. Another popular ritual is the tea ceremony. The wedding couple will kneel and serve tea to their parents, grandparents, and elders who will offer their blessings to the couple.

Greece

Hanging sugar cubes from the bridal gown, bouquet, or glove is believed to give her a sweet marriage. Spitting at the couple is also good luck, a ritual that started in ancient times. (Yes, we’re serious!) Though these days, guests will blow a puff of air instead, mimicking this wedding tradition.

Poland

Parents give the wedding couple bread with salt, which symbolizes abundance in their future home. To wash it down, the couple drinks vodka or wine, then toss and break the glasses.

Ireland

Image Sources: marthastewart.com via Pinterest, greenweddingshoes

Handfasting, an old Celtic ritual that still pops up in modern-day ceremonies, includes wrapping a rope or fabric around the couples hands to bind them for life. A Claddagh ring, designed with two hands touching a heart is worn by the bride with the heart facing inward, meaning she’s married.

Morocco

Before the wedding ceremony, the bride and her friends go to a public bath called a hammam. Doing so, the bride will be washed and purified before being wed.

India

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Before the wedding ceremony, the bride is adorned with intricate henna tattoo designs over her hands and arms. The maid of honor, mother of the bride, aunties, and friends may also wear henna. Marigold flowers, as garlands or other decor, are also popularly seen at Hindu Indian weddings. The bright gold color symbolizes positivity and happiness.

Mexico

A floral wreath, laso or ‘lazzo’ hangs around the wedding couple during the ceremony. The laso, worn around their shoulders, bonds them for life.

Nigeria

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An artfully-wrapped traditional headdress called a Gele is worn by the bride, bridesmaids, and other wedding guests. When the ceremony is over, the guests treat the wedding couple to a money dance, showering them in cash to symbolize good fortune.

Italy

Wearing green the night before the wedding is lucky for the bride. A small piece of iron goes into the grooms suit pocket, to bring the couple luck and protection.

Thailand

One of the most important rituals is the water ceremony, where guests pour water over the bride and groom to bless them. As well, there may also be a procession of music and marching, called a Khan Maak, leading the wedding couple to the bride’s home before the ceremony.

Peru

Images Sources: weddingsparrow.com via Pinterest

Vibrant colors are a staple at Peruvian weddings. You’ll see the wedding couple in bright geometric ponchos. There’s also a cake pull or cintas de la torta. Ribbons are attached to the wedding cake with one ribbon connected to a ring. The brides close friends will pull the ribbons, and the one who gets the ring is said to be married next.

Brazil

On the hem of the brides wedding dress is embroidered names of the brides single friends. It’s said to help bring them marriage as well. A common wedding tradition is to dress bridesmaids in mismatched attire (it’s considered unlucky for them to wear the same dress!).

Japan

Carrying umbrellas and folding fans is common for the bride and groom. Drinking sake in a ritual called san san ku do bonds the wedding couple and their families together.

France

Image Sources: elegantwedding.ca via Pinterest, josevillablog.com via Pinterest

Instead of a three-tiered cake, traditional French weddings often have a croquembouche, a stack of caramel-glazed cream puffs. It’s also common to see a champagne pyramid, creating a bubbly spectacle when poured over.

Korea

Symbolizing the unity of yin and yang, the bride wears red and the groom wears blue. At reception, a ritual called paebaek brings the wedding couple and parents together around a table for food. They will toss dates and chestnuts back and forth to each other, symbolizing how many children the couple will have.

Indonesia

Showering water and flowers over the wedding couple, the parents show them how they are cared for. If the Indonesian wedding is Muslim, which many are, then no alcohol is served.

Philippines

Image Sources: theknot.com via Pinterest

To symbolize unity, the bride and groom wear a chord and veil at the ceremony. It’s common to see the groom in a embroidered, white long-sleeved shirt called a barong tagalog.

Russia

For fun and teasing, the brides parents hide her from the groom and subject him to challenges that will win her back. If the groom isn’t able to complete the challenges, then there’s payment to make!

Sweden

A crown of myrtle leaves, in lieu of a veil or crown, is worn by the bride. Then before she walks down the aisle, her father places a gold coin in her right shoe and her mother places a silver one in her left shoe.


There are so many ways to say “I do.” Now you know a few of them, and are closer to becoming a true cosmopolitan!

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