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Old Wedding Traditions, New Trends

Updated on February 22, 2015

Celtic Wedding Traditions

Circle-Shaped Ceremony

Have the wedding ceremony held in a circle. The arrangement symbolizes the wholeness of the bride and groom uniting and each of their families joining together. (Plus, it allows for optimum visibility for all guests.)


This Scottish tradition requires the bride and groom to hold hands during their vows while a member of the ceremony wraps a ribbon or cloth around their hands representing their mutual dedication to one another.

Claddagh Rings

This Irish ring style features two hands holding a heart and topped with a crown. The two hands symbolize friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown is a symbol of loyalty. When the heart appears right side up to the wearer, it means that he/she is in a relationship, or if the ring is on the left ring finger facing this direction, it means that he/she is married. When worn upside-down, the ring shows that you are not in a relationship.



Chinese Traditions

Go Red Instead

Rather than following the popularly adopted tradition of Western culture in which a bride must wear white, consider choosing red or another color that holds personal meaning for your wedding dress or décor. Today, many brides still incorporate this traditional red color in their wedding ceremonies to represent joy, love, and prosperity.


Instead of carrying a bridal bouquet, consider carrying a fan. The Chinese wedding fan tradition derives from the marriage creation myth about Numa and her brother Fu Xi who fall in love. The two are ashamed of their feelings, but with the help of greater powers, they are able to hide themselves so that they can marry one another. Not only do wedding fans recall this ancient Chinese story of love, but they are also a beautiful and inexpensive alternative to bridal flowers.

Tea to the In-Laws

The bride and groom may each offer to each of their in-laws a cup of tea to show respect and thankfulness for the marriage union.

Red Wedding Dress


Roman and Greek Traditions

Crossing the Threshold

When crossing the threshold into the couple’s new home, the groom would carry the bride through the doorway in order to protect her from evil spirits believed to be jealous of human happiness. To confuse the spirits during the ceremony, the bride often wore a veil much like the popular image of the modern Western bride.


Stefana are Greek wedding crowns, either metal or floral wreaths, worn by both the bride and the groom. The crowns are often connected at the back with ribbon to represent the couple’s eternal bond and God’s blessing.


Koufetta are Greek candy-coated almonds, much like the sugar-coated almonds of Italy, known as bomboniere or confetti. These treats are given to the guests as a form of appreciation and symbolize the bitter-sweetness of life and love.

African Traditions

Tasting the Four Elements

In this African tradition, (also present in South America) the bride and groom taste the four elements of life, and the emotions that they represent. They would taste a lemon for its sour taste, vinegar for its bitterness, cayenne pepper for its spiciness, and honey for its sweetness. The act of tasting these four elements symbolically shows that, together, the two can confront any challenge that life has to offer.

Crossing the Threshold


Indian Traditions


Mehndi involves the application of what we know as henna, a paste that is drawn on the skin in order to temporarily dye the bride’s hands and feet with meaningful designs and religious symbols. The Vedic customs of early Hinduism describe an awakening of the light within, reflected through sun symbols often used in the mehndi designs for wedding ceremonies. (This happens to be one of my favorite traditions that I hope to incorporate into my own wedding.)

Japanese Traditions

The Crane

The crane, in Japanese custom represents long life. During wedding ceremonies the belief that folding 1,000 paper cranes for decoration will bring the couple good fortune, fidelity, and longevity.

Mehndi Bridal Henna


Jewish Traditions

The Chuppah

Jewish tradition calls for a chuppah, a.k.a. a rectangular canopy beneath which the bride and groom stand with each set of parents behind them. The chuppah and the family beneath represent the foundation supporting the new home and the beginning of life for the married couple.

Native American Traditions

The Blanket Ceremony

A popular tradition brought about by early Native Americans involves the wrapping of the bride and groom in two blue blankets. The two are then led to a fire surrounded by their guests where they shed their blue blankets which represent their past lives. Close relatives toss a white blanket over the couple under which the couple may kiss. The white blanket, symbolizing new life and purity, is displayed in the newlyweds’ home as a keepsake of their very special day.

In your opinion...

Which old wedding tradition are you MOST LIKELY to try?

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© 2015 C. M. Rogers


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