Marriage ceremonies signal the start of a new chapter in a couple’s life, and cultures around the globe have their own special customs and rituals to mark this milestone.
While traditional Indian weddings are very long celebrations, including pre- and post-wedding ceremonies, the length and structure of today’s weddings often depend on the region and the social status of the families. The celebrations consist of many religious rituals, including this one seen by Go Ahead traveler Linda S. while she was on our India tour.
Here, women are gathering water to be used in the wedding. During the ceremony, the father of the bride holds an open palm over the couple’s hands, and the mother pours water over all their hands. Symbolizing piety, the parents of the bride also wash the feet of the bride and groom, so they start a pure life together.
Traditionally, a future Finnish bride goes door to door to receive wedding gifts. She collects them in a pillowcase, and is often accompanied by an older married man who holds a parasol over her. This male chaperone symbolizes protection and longevity.
Similar to the merriment of a North American bachelorette party, Germany “kidnappers” steal the bride away before the wedding and take her to out for a night of bar-hopping. Her father or the groom’s best man often comes along and takes care of the bill. Along the way, the kidnappers leave hints for the groom as to where they are taking the bride. The groom must then make a light-hearted ransom deal for the return of the bride.
In the hope of a comfortable and prosperous life ahead, Swedish parents often present coins to their daughter on her wedding day. The bride traditionally places a gold coin in her right shoe, given by her mother, and a silver coin in her left shoe, given by her father, so that she can walk into the next phase of her life with good fortune.
In China, the specific date and time of a wedding is carefully selected. Couples often consult a fortune-teller or astrologer for guidance, and take into account their individual birth dates. Even the hour of the wedding is important—many Chinese couples choose to begin their ceremony on the half-hour instead of the hour in order to start their lives together when the hands of the clock are on the upswing.
Have you ever witnessed a marriage ceremony abroad?