Weird and Wonderful Wedding Traditions from Around the World

It’s Wedding Showcase season again. Our wedding co-ordinator, Lauren, and the wedding team at Lancaster House are dressing up our function rooms and inviting our selected wedding suppliers along to help you imagine what your perfect day could look like.

With weddings on our mind, it got us to thinking about some of the more unusual wedding traditions from around the world.

Like many others, I never attend a wedding without having first purchased my little box of confetti, which is secreted away until the moment of release when the newly weds are bombarded with a shower of brightly coloured paper. It didn’t strike me until very recently to question why I throw little pieces recyclable, biodegradable, non-toxic, flame retardant heart-felt congratulations over my friends and family …

Aimee and Andy's Wedding at Lancaster House - Credit: Lisa Aldersley
Aimee and Andy’s Wedding at Lancaster House / Lisa Aldersley

This tradition started many hundreds of years ago where guests scattered the happy couple with grains and fruit to signify their wish for them to a fruitful union – now that makes sense, if indeed they have any inclination or desire to start a family!

Here’s our top ten weird and wonderful wedding rituals, past and present…

1.  Samoa: Wedding dress with a twist

In Samoa the bridal dress is made from the bark of a mulberry tree.

2. Russia: Ransom of the Bride

In some parts of Russia, the bride’s family block the pathway to her home, whilst they challenged the groom to demonstrate some of his talents – strength, intelligence and various other skills. If he failed in any of the challenges he had to pay a ransom for his bride.

3. Scotland: Blackening of the Bride and Groom

In Scotland the tradition was to blacken the bride and/or groom with tar, feathers and treacle prior to the wedding. Once blacked the individual or couple were paraded through the streets whilst ‘friends’ announced the impending nuptials. Some people think that this process prepares the person for any humiliation that life has yet to bring!

4. Poland: Pass the Rolling Pin

In Poland, wedding guests stand in a circle and pass a rolling pin from one person to the next – but no hands are allowed in the process! Nobody seems sure of the origins of this one, but everybody agrees it makes great video footage.

5.  Africa: Slaughtering a Cow

In traditional zulu weddings, the groom’s family slaughters a cow to welcome the bride. The bride places money inside the stomach of the cow to symbolize that she is now part of the family.

6.  South Korea: Balaka

This is a South Korean tradition where the groom’s friends beat the bottom of his bare feet with a fish on the night of his wedding (after tying him up of course). Again, nobody is quite sure of the reasons behind this one – answers on a postcard please!

7. Inner Mongolia: Inspecting a Baby Chick’s Liver

The Daur people of Inner Mongolia base their predications of a happy marriage on the liver of a baby chick. As the couple set the date, they share a knife to cut open a chick to inspect its liver – a healthy liver signifies a flourishing union; a bad liver and quite frankly the wedding is off!

8. Kenya: Post Wedding Dress

In Kenya, the first month after the wedding the groom should wear women’s clothes to fully understand how hard it is being a woman! I say, why limit this to Kenya?!

9.  Ethiopia: How Big is Your Lip?

The women of the Surma tribe of Ethiopia remove their lower teeth some weeks prior to the wedding, pierce their lip and insert a clay disk. From time to time the disc is replaced by a larger diameter disk. The larger the disk, the bigger the dowry. What people will do to earn a buck!

10. Java: To Catch a Rat

On the island of Java the couple must pay the obligatory registration fee – 25 rats tails!

Start your own Wedding Traditions

Planning your wedding? Of course, you are welcome to adopt any or none of the above. Better still, start a tradition of your own.

Bride and Groom at Lancaster House
Bride and Groom at Lancaster House

Come along and meet our Wedding Co-ordinator, Lauren,  at Lancaster Wedding Showcase on Thursday 25th August, 4.30pm – 8pm. Meet the wedding suppliers, taste our exciting new wedding breakfast menu and start imagining what your dream day could look like.

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