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Cultural Weddings 101

Updated on May 1, 2015

Marriage Traditions from Around the Globe

Many cultures have wedding traditions. If you wish to include your heritage into the wedding, then be sure and research the customs of your ancestors. If you and your fiancé don't come from the same culture, you can blend the two cultures together or use only one. The decision is yours. Read below to find out more about different wedding traditions from around the world.

Jumping the Broom & Libation Ceremony

African Wedding Traditions

Some African weddings include the tradition called “jumping the broom.” Couples jump over a broom once they are pronounced married. In other ceremonies, the bridesmaids decorate the bride in Henna prior to dressing her in her wedding gown.

It is a good idea to serve traditional African cuisine and incorporate the same into your music and dancing. Some people hire professional dancers for cultural weddings to really bring home the feel of the day. Also, you could hold a libation ceremony to honor your elders. This is a big tradition in African weddings. The parents and grandparents love this part of the ceremony and will feel special and included as a real part of the wedding.

Red Dress & Crown Ceremony

Armenian Wedding Traditions

In traditional Armenian weddings, the bride wears a red dress with a cardboard headpiece decorated with feathers. Also, her single friends write their names on the bottom of her shoes before she walks down the aisle.

In Armenian weddings the typical toast is: “may you grow old on one pillow.” The bride and groom usually enter the ceremony through and arch of flowers that are held up by the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Furthermore, doves are also released at the reception, which is a beautiful tradition to include. Nowadays, the most common custom in Armenian weddings is the crown ceremony where the bride and groom don crowns to symbolize their union.

There are many types of flowers and gifts used in Armenian weddings, the most common of which are engraved silver keepsakes with the typical toast written on them. Also, family photos are usually used to decorate the areas of the wedding if that is what the couple wants. When it comes to food, always stick with authentic Armenian fair. Think food such as lamb, hummus and babaghanoush to finish your theme.

Like Greek weddings, traditional Armenian bands perform and the first dance of the bride and groom are celebrated with their first dance, as well-wishes throw money at the new couple.

Dragon Robe & Phoenix Crown Ceremony

Chinese Wedding Traditions

Chinese wedding traditions have been updated to fit the modern bride and groom. The bride sometimes changes into three different wedding dresses-a traditional white gown, a traditional Chinese gown, and a cocktail dress to send off the guests. The groom sometimes wears a blue dragon robe and the bride will don a phoenix crown. These are the simplest traditions to include in a contemporary wedding.

The reception is traditionally a tea ceremony. The bride and groom should serve tea to their parents. They should also go around to each table and toast their guests.

Traditional Chinese garb with phoenixes and dragons can be used as part of your theme. You can also incorporate firecrackers and gongs, as they very traditional. The color red is often used and objects engraved with “Xi” are used-that is the double Chinese character for happiness. Use these symbols and colors as part of your Chinese wedding to give it an authentic feel.

Flower Petals & Wishing Tree Ceremony

Dutch Wedding Traditions

Dutch wedding ceremonies have a particularly beautiful tradition. The bride and groom walk on a bed of flower petals on the altar; the petals are then tossed at them as they leave the church. This is a lovely and unique custom to include in your wedding.

In Dutch weddings, instead of a traditional bouquet, the bride usually gives away her crown; whoever receives it is said to be the next person to marry. Instead of a guest book, Dutch weddings usually have a “wishing tree.” Paper leaves are given to each guest and they write a wish for the bride and groom’s happiness and prosperity on it. They then hang it from a branch at the head table.

Furthermore, the bride usually carries green garlands and flowers and the groom holds or carries a pipe. Beds of flowers are used in the ceremony, but can be used as part of the décor as well. The color green and various shades of it are often used in more than just the bride’s flowers, so incorporate this into your color scheme for an authentic theme.

Golden Coins & Rings Ceremony

Filipino Wedding

In Filipino wedding ceremonies, the groom presents 13 golden coins to his bride along with the rings in order to show he will provide for her and their children of the future. Veils of white flowers are draped across the bride and groom to represent their loyalty and togetherness. They also light a candle together to show unity in the relationship. If you value unity and wish to symbolize it in your wedding, you may want to consider using these Filipino traditions.

Also in Filipino weddings there is one major difference during the reception: the bride does not toss away her bouquet. Instead, the bouquet is placed on the grave of a loved one or offered up to a saint.

Furthermore, during a Filipino marriage, the bride wears white and the groom wears a white shirt with black pants. The bride must never wear pearls, but other jewelry is fine. White and gold are prominent colors in these weddings, so use them in your color scheme.

Pinning Money & Smashing Plates Ceremony

Greek Wedding Traditions

Greek wedding receptions are a blast! Greek food is served, music is played, and guests dance traditional dances. Nowadays, like the Armenian receptions, Greek receptions usually carry not only a DJ, but also a traditional Greek band. While the band plays, the newlyweds dance together and guests pin money on the bride. But, the most unusual and spectacular part of the Greek reception is at the end, when guests smash dinner plates for good luck. If you grew up with a family who respects these traditions, you definitely want to include them in your wedding.

The best way to decorate your ceremony and reception to match your theme is to make sure to use orange blossoms. Also, ensure that the food and music goes with tradition. It is the event, not the décor, which are really important for a Greek wedding.

Turban, Sari & Stolen Shoes Ceremony

Indian Wedding Traditions

Traditional Indian weddings are very bright and vibrant. The groom may wear a turban and the bride usually wears a sari. There are lovely rose petals and other flowers involved. The wedding altar is handmade. All of these traditions lead to a stunningly beautiful ceremony.

After the actual wedding, the reception begins. Tradition says that during this time, the bride’s sister may try to steal the groom’s shoes, which are handmade by the families. These traditions help to bring unity to the families and introduce fun to the reception.

Claddagh Rings & Whiskey Cake Ceremony

Irish Wedding Traditions

Irish weddings use old Celtic symbols and age-old traditions, which make the wedding lovely. Claddagh rings are used as wedding bands. The bride wears flowers in her hair. Guests ring bells when you leave the altar. These touches lend a unique feel to Irish weddings.

At the reception, there's special mead and whiskey-laced cake, which all guests should enjoy along with typical Irish cuisine. If a guest sings a love song or recites a poem, the newlyweds have to kiss. These fun traditions make for an enjoyable way to celebrate your marriage.

Lavender flowers are usually used, both in the bride's hair and in her bouquet. Celtic love knots are used in decoration. Tiny pots of shamrocks can be place on tables for good luck. Horseshoes are also incorporated for luck, but make sure the points face up!

Sake & Origami Cranes Ceremony

Japanese Wedding Traditions

Japanese wedding rituals are very beautiful. One of the most meaningful parts of the ceremony is the san-san-kudo, or three by three exchanges. The bride, the groom, and their parents each take three sips of sake from three different cups to represent family and the deliverance from human flaws. This tradition is rich with meaning and should be included in any Japanese marriage.

Traditional Japanese food is usually served at the reception, with many courses. All of the food is symbolic, whether because of its color, shape, or taste. Never serve your courses in multiples of four, because the Japanese word for four sounds almost exactly like the word for death.

Cranes play a big part in the Japanese wedding ceremony, so if you want to be traditional, decorate your wedding ceremony and reception with 1001 gold origami cranes. Include small swords and Japanese fans as decorations. Make sure to have more sake to drink!


Thank you for taking the time to read over our wedding traditions from around the world article, we hope you enjoyed the information we provided. The following websites helped us with gathering information for this publication, please click through to any of them to learn more about wedding traditions.

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