Wedding Traditions Around The World

We’re so used to wedding traditions in our own country that we don’t even second guess them. We plan bachelorette parties, make sure the bride has something old, new, borrowed, and blue on her wedding day, and anxiously await the bouquet toss to see who will be the next to marry. But where do these traditions come from, and what do they mean?

Believe it or not, something old, new, borrowed, and blue comes from an Old English rhyme: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” Though no one carries around sixpence, the first four objects are signs of good luck. Something old signifies continuity; something new represents optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; and something blue represents purity, love, and fidelity.

Like the “something old, something new” custom, the origin of throwing the bouquet also originated in England as an alternative to guests ripping the bride’s dress for good luck. But what about wedding traditions outside of England? In Germany, it’s tradition for the bride and groom to saw a log in half together. In India, the bridal party steals the groom’s shoes. There are countless other fun and quirky wedding traditions from around the world. We created a visual of fourteen different rituals so you can see how people all over celebrate their special day.


In addition to the fourteen rituals above, we’ve also compiled a few more interesting wedding traditions from Morocco, Italy, and Nigeria.

  • Morocco – In Morocco, pre-wedding ceremonies are as important as wedding ceremonies. Five days before the wedding a furnishing party is held, where family and friends decorate and prepare the couple’s future house. A few days before the wedding, the bride is given a milk bath at a hammam to purify her before marriage. She is also decorated with intricate henna designs for good luck in her new life. On the couple’s wedding day, singing and dancing is customary, and the couple is carried around the room on a large chair called an Amariya so that everyone can greet and congratulate them.
  • Italy – Though many Italian wedding customs are no longer upheld, there used to be countless superstitions around a bride and groom’s special day. Sunday was considered the only lucky day to get married. The only exception to this was for widows, who could remarry on Saturday. The night before the wedding, the bride spent the night at her parents’ house and wore green for good luck. On the wedding day, the groom carried a piece of iron in his pocket to ward off evil spirits. After the ceremony, the bride and groom broke a glass, and the number of pieces was believed to represent how long they would have a happy marriage.
  • Nigeria – Wedding traditions in Nigeria vary by tribe, though most Nigerian cultures have multiple wedding ceremonies including a cultural ceremony and a religious ceremony. In the Igbo tribe, men are not supposed to marry until their elder brothers have tied the knot. Igbo men are also expected to provide their brides with a dowry. The bride’s family gives the groom a list, and if he does not fulfill it, he cannot marry their daughter. At the reception, wealthy Nigerians throw money at the bride as she dances to celebrate her special day and wish her good luck.

Maybe now, after hearing all these traditions, you’re relieved that you can choose the perfect bouquet to throw instead of having guests rip your dress to gain good luck. Or perhaps you’re thinking about incorporating a special symbol like a unity bowl into your wedding day. Whatever the case, all the planning is sure to pay off when you’re walking down an aisle scattered with rose petals surrounded by your friends and family.


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Image sources

Romania: CC Image courtesy of Dennis Crowley on Flickr | South Africa: CC Image courtesy of anoldent on Flickr | Scotland: CC Image courtesy of John W. Schulze on Flickr | Germany: CC Image courtesy of Petras Gagilas on Flickr | Korea: CC Image courtesy of Joamm Tall on Flickr | Australia: CC Image courtesy of Randen Pederson on Flickr | Japan: CC Image courtesy of gwaar on Flickr