The rituals we are most used to in Australia are fairly tame when compared to some cultures. We may toss the bridal bouquet or wear something blue, but engaged pairs in Mongolia must kill and butcher a chicken to find a healthy liver before being allowed to wed.
Here are a few interesting ones:
Single men and women eat a slice of high sodium bread which must be prepared by a happily married middle-aged woman or their grandmother. They will, hopefully, dream about their husband- or wife-to-be.
Congolese brides and grooms must keep their happiness under wraps. During the whole wedding day, from the ceremony to reception, they are not allowed to smile. If they do, it would mean they weren’t serious about marriage.
French brides and grooms traditionally eat chocolate and champagne after the reception. Unfortunately, they must consume these treats from a toilet bowl. The point is to give the couple strength before their wedding night.
In China, a prospective husband will shoot his bride with a bow and arrow several times. He then collects the arrows and breaks them during the ceremony, to ensure their love lasts forever.
In Fiji when a man asks a woman’s father for her hand in marriage, he must present his future father-in-law with a whale’s tooth.
Many brides-to-be in other countries go on strict diets to lose weight before the wedding. Not so in Mauritius, where young girls are forced to pack on the pounds before their weddings. The chubbier she is, the better for the husband who is thought to be wealthy with such a well-fed wife.
German brides and grooms clean up piles of porcelain dishes that their guests throw on the ground to ward off any evil spirits. The lesson: working together, the couple can face any challenge thrown their way. Their first bit of housekeeping together.
On his wedding day, the groom’s BFF becomes his barber and shaves his face. But the groom’s day also has a sweet side: His new mother-in-law will feed him honey and almonds.
The parents of Guatemalan grooms can do whatever they want, as they are the Wedding Reception hosts. When the newlyweds arrive, the groom’s mother breaks a white ceramic bell, filled with grains like rice and flour, to bring prosperity to the couple.
In this Scandinavian country, it’s typical at weddings to serve a towering special-occasion cake called a kransekake. It’s made with iced almond cake rings to form a cone shape, and a wine or champagne bottle is placed in its hollow centre.
In Kenya after the ceremony when a Masai bride leaves with her new husband, her father spits on her. The purpose is not to tempt fate by being too supportive of the newlyweds.
Before the ceremony, an infant is placed on the couple’s bed to bless and enhance their fertility. Once they’ve wed, guests shower them with rice, peas or lentils to also promote fertility.
Newly married Russian couples share a wedding sweetbread called karavaya (decorated with wheat for prosperity and interlocking rings for faithfulness). Whoever takes the biggest bite — husband or wife — without using their hands is considered the head of the family.
The bride’s sisters and female cousins make off with the groom’s shoe and, if he wants it back, he must pay ransom money for its safe return.
It’s a Cuban custom that every man who dances with the bride must pin money to her dress to help the couple pay for their wedding and honeymoon.
It’s common for Indian women to gather their closest girlfriends and sit for hours at a time to have their skin intricately painted, in tattoo fashion, with mehndi, which is paint made from henna. The elaborate and beautiful skin art lasts about two weeks making additional accessories totally unnecessary.
In Peruvian weddings, the cake contains ribbons attached to charms, with one fake wedding ring in the centre. The single lady who is served the slice of cake with the fake wedding ring inside will be the next to get married.
The bride and the groom are captured by friends the day before their ceremony and covered in everything from molasses and ash to flour and feathers before being paraded around town. This is known as the “blackening of the bride.” The goal may seem to be ultimate humiliation, but the ritual stems from the practice of trying to ward off evil spirits.
In Sweden, whenever the bride leaves the table, all the ladies at the reception are free to steal a kiss from the groom! Sweden keeps the tradition gender-neutral so whenever the groom leaves the room, all surrounding gentleman are free to plant a peck on the bride.
Back in the day, when a Welshman fell in love and was ready to commit, he carved spoons from wood and gave them to his beloved. Decorations included keys, signifying the key to his heart, and beads, the number of children he hoped for.