For the most part, wedding days are joyous occasions for the bride, groom and their friends and families. The way traditions related to this most special of occasions have developed around the world, however, differs greatly from one region to the next. Here are 10 unusual wedding traditions from around the world:
10. Wardrobe Change
A western marriage is all about a single dress, namely the bride’s wedding dress. That differs in China, because the bride has to pick out no less than three dresses for her big day. The first is the traditional qipao or cheongsam, which is an embroidered, slim-fitting frock that’s usually colored red. In Chinese culture, red is considered as lucky and a symbol of strength. The second is a white ball-gown, which is similar to the traditional western bridal dress and a nod to western trends. The third and final dress of a Chinese bride’s big night is an elegant evening gown in any color she chooses.
9. Painted Hands
It’s traditional for an Indian bride to receive intricate temporary tattoos, called mehndi, on her hands. These tattoos, which are created using a plant dye called henna, are also received by the bride’s female friends and family, and last a few weeks before fading away. The mehndi are incredibly intricate, often taking hours to apply despite covering such a small area of the body, plus a further few hours for them to dry.
8. Jumping the Broom
Numerous cultures from around are historically notable for a spot of broom-jumping during their wedding ceremonies, however the tradition is most often found in African-American wedding ceremonies. This particular tradition harks back to the days of slavery in the United States, when a marriage between an enslaved man and woman couldn’t be legally sanctioned. Before the Civil War broke out in the 1860s, enslaved men and women declared their unions by jumping over a broom together.
7. Mazel Tov
Country: Israel (Jewish tradition)
The origins of this tradition, which involves the groom crushing a glass underfoot at the end of a wedding ceremony, aren’t completely clear. Some believe that it symbolizes the destruction of the Great Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, while others say that it symbolizes the necessity for always ensuring that joy is curbed. Whatever its true origins are, the breaking of the glass takes place in the spirit of happiness. As the groom performs this tradition, the assembled wedding guests call out “mazel tov!” once they hear the glass shattering.
6. Baby Bridesmaids
Country: United Kingdom
The United Kingdom’s royal family do things a little differently – instead of the bride having bridesmaids that are her contemporaries, the bridesmaids in a British royal wedding tend to be much younger. Kate Middleton’s marriage to Prince William, for example, featured a bridesmaid who was just three years old at the time of the ceremony. Similarly, when Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married back in the 1980s, the ages of the five bridesmaids taking part in the wedding ranged from five to 17.