While weddings are universal affairs, it is the various traditions and customs associated with this ceremony that are as varied as the human race itself. Want to know how some of us exchange their wedding vows – and, more importantly, what happens before and after the wedding?
Welcome to the 6 strangest wedding customs around the world!
1. India. A very traditional custom is for the bride’s sisters and cousins to hide the groom’s shoes when he arrives at their house for the wedding. Indian customs demand that shows be removed at the entrance of the mandap or altar where the wedding is solemnised, and that is the when the groom’s shoes are ‘stolen’. It is a battle of wits and ingenuity between the bride’s family, that does its best to steal the shoes, and the groom’s family that tries to protect them at all costs. There is much laughter and teasing. If the bride’s relatives succeed in stealing the shoes, the poor groom has to shell out whatever amount the girls demand to get his footwear back.
2. Scotland. Perhaps the honour for the weirdest wedding custom goes to Scotland where ‘Blackening the bride’ is practised as an important pre-wedding ritual. Of course, the poor bride has absolutely no idea just when she will be bombarded with the foulest of substances – she is taken totally by surprise. Her friends throw black liquid, eggs, sauces and any other revolting substance they can lay their hands on. The ordeal doesn’t end here. After being blackened, the bride-to-be is paraded all through town!
3. Germany. Shattering a large number of porcelain or glass dishes prior to the wedding is a long-held German tradition. The bride and groom have to clean up the mess themselves. The belief behind this seemingly destructive act is that it will bring the couple good luck. Another custom more common in the villages of Germany is ‘kidnapping the bride’ by friends of both, the bride and the groom, and having the groom to hunt for her. The third custom is ‘log sawing’ in which a log is placed between two sawhorses and both the newlyweds have to work together to saw it in half.
4. Poland. In keeping with an ancient Polish tradition, the groom and his parents arrive at the bride’s house before the wedding, where both sets of parents bless the couple. Another quaint old custom is to prepare ‘passing gates’ that leads to the reception venue for the newlyweds. The couple has to ‘bribe’ their way through by offering vodka to the ‘gate keepers’. At the reception gate, the newlywed couple is accorded a warm welcome by the parents with the traditional bread and salt. While the bread signifies prosperity, salt represents hardship of life which the couple will face together.
5. Sweden. There are two customs that dominate a Swedish wedding – coins in the bride’s shoes and kissing the guests. Her father places a silver coin in her left shoe while a gold coin from her mother is placed in her right shoe, symbolising that she will never be in want. At the wedding reception, the guests await an opportunity to kiss either the bride or the groom, sometimes both of the stars are favourable! If the groom goes out of the room for a while, all the male guests get to kiss the bride, and vice versa – all in a queue though.
6. France. The French have a wedding night prank that goes by the name of ‘Chiverie’. In this, the friends and relatives of the newly weds gather outside their room and get busy clanging and banging assorted pots and pans. The din is intended to disturb the resting couple, and have them come out in their wedding attire. They are then expected to provide refreshments to the ‘trespassers’.