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12 Unique Wedding Traditions from Around the World

Think beyond something blue.

Contributing Writer
Photography by: Pablo Béglez

From the groom gifting his new MIL with wild geese to a couple getting tied up in rope during their vows, some cultures' wedding rituals may come across as quirky but also sweet and meaningful. See if you want to adopt any of them in your own wedding.


Japan: I'll Drink to That!

In the ancient ceremonial tradition called san san kudo, the bride and groom each take three sips of sake from three cups (nine symbolizes triple happiness) then let their parents take sips. With everyone drinking from the same cup, a familial bond is born.


Spain: Black Is the New White

This has a dark side: Rather than present themselves in virginal white, Spanish brides go for dramatic black gowns to symbolize that death is the only thing that would keep the bride from her beloved husband.


Korea: Where the Wild Things Are

To prove that he won't be fooling around with another woman once he's married, a Korean groom presents his new mother-in-law with a pair of wooden wild geese during the ceremony. The bird is known to be a monogamous, faithful and devoted partner, a model for newlyweds to follow.


Venezuela: Sneaking Around

No one needs to file a missing persons report when a bride and groom from this country can't be found toward the end of their wedding reception: They're taking part in a popular tradition where just-marrieds sneak away, which brings them luck if they're not caught. Also getting a dose of good fortune: the first person who notices the newlyweds are missing.


Romania: The Price Is Right

A groom from Romania gets to play hero when his family and friends "kidnap" the bride before the wedding and he has to pay a ransom (in cash or alcoholic beverages, not PayPal) for his beloved's safe return.


Russia: Love Bites

Talk about a modern family! Russian brides and grooms take bites out of a decorated sweetbread called karavaya, and whoever takes the biggest bite is declared the head of their family.


Ireland: The Ties That Bind

During their wedding vows, Irish couples clasp their hands together and, in a literal interpretation of "tying the knot," a ribbon or rope, often matching the wedding colors, is wrapped around their wrists to signify that the union is bound forever.


Jamaica: Carrying On

Village women, usually married, wear white dresses and carry the wedding cakes for a procession through town and surrounding areas. The cakes are covered with a white cloth so the bride can't take a peek—that would be bad luck!


The Netherlands: Make a Wish

Instead of a traditional guest book, Dutch brides and grooms take a page out of nature. A real tree branch is positioned at the reception, and guests write good wishes on small papers that are hung with ribbon from the branches.


Australia: Get Stoned

Family members are given small stones or marbles in different colors and asked to place them in a decorative glass bowl picked out by the bride and groom. Once they establish their new home, the couple displays this "unity bowl" as a reminder of the support they have from loved ones.


Greece: A Sweet Idea

Greek moms and grandmas get busy the night before the wedding: they decorate the wedding bed with flower petals, coins and koufeta (sugared almonds) to encourage fertility, love, and prosperity.


Philippines: Flying High

On their wedding day, a Filipino bride and groom take part in a tradition of releasing tow white birds—a female dove and male dove—which symbolize a happy, harmonious union together.

About the Author

Nancy Mattia

Though Nancy has been writing about weddings for years, she admits that watching a bride walk down the aisle—even on TV—still makes her tear up. The New York-area writer's other favorite wedding moments are when the groom sees the bride for the first time, hearing the toasts, and when she sees a waiter with a tray full of hors d'oeuvres walking towards her. 


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