Weddings around the World
A very interesting sideline (so to speak) of being a wedding Officiant, is
learning about the wedding traditions from others countries and cultures.
Much of what we use, and think of as American wedding tradition are
actually adaptations from other countries and traditions.
For instance; flowers petals upon which the bride will walk, comes to
us from England where the bride would walk to the church on a path covered
with flower petals. This symbolized the wish for the bride's well being in life
and it is from where our "bed of roses" comes .
The pretty little flower girl originated in ancient Rome where she
carried sheaths of wheat and herbs signifying the wish for prosperity and
The wedding candles probably comes from Greece where the bride
and groom greeted one another with candles surrounded by flowers.
In about the fifth century in Sparta military comrades would feast and toast
one another on the evening before their wedding. This has become the
The bridal bouquet comes from the early tradition of brides carrying
bunches of herbs, garlic and grains which were believed to drive away
The clergy was not involved in weddings until the 15th century. Until
that time the bride and groom pretty much did the deed between them or the
families made arrangements and a contract was signed or other
arrangements carried out.
Handfasting (an ancient word for wedding or hitching) was an interesting
method of getting married. This comes from Great Britton and is related to
clans and the practice of actually tying the bride and grooms hands. The
couple joined hands his right and her right, his left and her left. They
pledged their troth in front of friends and family.. This made them officially
married for a year and a day. At the end of that time they could make the
decision to renew for another year or permanently. Perhaps we should
reinstate it in this day and time..
The best man comes from a time when it was sometimes necessary
for a man to actually kidnap his bride from another clan. This usually
came about because of a shortage of young women in the grooms own clan
or village.(probably in the time of the Germanic Goths.) A groom usually
needed help with this endeavor so he would enlist a friend to help with the
job. This led to the "best man".
The giving away of the bride is something many brides chose to
exclude from their weddings. Much of the decision making on this part
stems from the unfortunate disconnect of todays families, the affects of
divorce and other issues which tend to remove the traditional tie between
fathers and their daughters. However there is another reason to delete this
traditional part of weddings. It stems from the Victorian era when women
were considered property and depending on the place and time brides either
came with a dowry (to get a man to marry her) or the man paid for the bride
(you know the old joke about paying 2 camels and a donkey).
Shoes tried to a car is one tradition every bride should object to. It
stems again from a time when women were property. The brides shoes were
taken from her, by her father, on her wedding day and given to the groom.
This did two things. It showed that the groom now owned the bride and it
symbolized the bride's inability to run away.
Carrying the bride over the threshold was another twofold message
tradition. First it showed that the bride was timid about giving herself to her
husband on their first night together and the second refers to a time when
brides were captures and would thus be carried into the bridal suite.
The veil dates back to Roman times when it was used to show virginity and
innocence. Also in middle eastern cultures it was used to hide the brides
face from the groom. He would not see her face until after the wedding.
The white wedding gown probably comes from the Greeks. In their culture a
white robe signified purity and youth.
The engagement ring comes from the time when brides were purchased
and oftentimes precious gems were a part of the payment. The payment
showed the grooms intent to marry and this brought about the diamond or
gem as a gift from the groom to the bride.
The bride's garter. This is one of the oldest wedding customs and one we
should probably just move away from. This lovely custom comes from a time
when it was necessary for the consummation of marriage to be witnesses.
The witness or witnesses brought the garter out with them from the bridal
chamber as a sign of having witnesses the event. Because of the huge
violation of privacy this event lost favor and the groom would just throw the
garter out to the witnesses as a sign that the wedding has been
The wedding cake and throwing rice (grain) went hand in hand and
evolved into the two traditions we have today. In the beginning the cake was
thrown. Wheat was thrown at one point as a sign of fertility. Later the wheat
was baked into wheat cakes which were eaten. It all goes back to the
The champagne toast (wine) is a very old one and can be connected to
the biblical occasion of Jesus turning water into wine for the wedding in
Galilee. Wine has long signified life, love, vitality and was used for
celebrations , sharing a cup of wine.
The Honeymoon is a good one. The Teutonic people wed only in the full
moon. The bride and groom would then drink honeywine until the next full
Some interesting wedding traditions I have taken part in.
Russian wedding. This wedding took place in a large house on the beach
in Fort Lauderdale. The bride. Groom and almost all the guests were young
Russian men and women. They all spoke Russian (as well as English) and I
sort of stood on the sidelines until time for me to do my thing (the ceremony).
As the story was told to me, in their part of Russia, when a couple are getting
married the attendants hide the bride and the groom must find her before
the ceremony can take place. The make up little notes (like a scavenger
hunt) and place them throughout the house to misguide the groom. If he
asks the girls questions they try to send him in the wrong direction.
After much fun and laughter the groom finally finds the bride and leads her
to the place of the ceremony.
Also in Russia there is a tradition of standing on a special rug as they get
married. I married a young couple who stood on the rug which the grooms
mother had stood on and which had been made by his grandmother.
A Persian wedding which consisted of two ceremonies, one traditional
wedding which I performed and a second Persian wedding in which the
brides uncle presided was very beautiful. It took place at the Biltmore Hotel in
Coral Gables, Fl. The groom was Scottish and at the end of the ceremony
we all walked out under swords held by Scots in Kilts. The second wedding
(Persian ) started with the bride and groom seated at the end of a beautiful
table filled with flowers and small dishes of fruits, nuts, candies etc. At the
other end of the table was a mirror into which the bride and groom were
meant to look at one another. The bridesmaids held (by four corners) a
white cloth over the couples head into which other girls were ;shaking
something. (I should have asked).Dduring the ceremony the bride and
groom dipped their fingers into honey and placed it into the other mouth.
When the ceremony was over the father of the bride offered many gifts to
the bride. It was lovely.
Another wedding I performed was Indian and done in a private
home. During the ceremony the couple placed flowers, like a lei over one
another's head symbolizing unity. After the ceremony the mother of the
groom presented small gifts of jewelry to the bride. She also sprinkled rice
on the brides head and made the small red dot on the bride's forwhead.
Wedding Traditions Around the World
You're Getting Married, Congratulations
In this section you will find articles relating to preparing for your wedding and hopefully
hints and suggestions which can help make the planning, leading upto your wedding go
more smoothly and also save you money.
Some of what you will find is just general information whcih may be needed.