Cultural Wedding Traditions Part 1

Everyone knows or at least I hope everyone knows that not everyone celebrates marriage the same way. In the United States almost everyone celebrates the same way. Meaning they have the traditional white dress, bride and grooms first dance, white flowers, white wedding cake, and classic wedding invitations. So you may ask what is the “perfect wedding?” well there are numerous wedding checklists to give you help with planning, but those checklists do not let you be creative or imaginative. These checklists also do not count for the different cultures and religions that may be important to the couple and the family.

French Cake – Croquembouche

When a couple has religious and cultural beliefs it is nice to incorporate those into the wedding. It shares something personal with the guests and is a nice tribute to the families. It is difficult to incorporate all traditions into your wedding for example food. The venue of which you are having your wedding at may not have experience in making the dishes of which you would like. So then it gets difficult trying to find another caterer. If it is not possible to serve a traditional meal then try serving a signature drink, for example sake for a Japanese reception or even chai for an Indian wedding.

In this blog I am going to discuss a few different cultures and how they celebrate marriage, in two parts.

Part One

A culture that celebrates marriage differently would be the French. The custom is that the groom walks his mother down the aisle, which creates a collective emotional response from the guests, it is a nice tradition though. The bride has the Trousseau which originated in France, and it refers to a bundle of linens and clothing that the bride would take after the wedding, and store them in a hope chest, that was carved by her father. On the day of the wedding it is custom that the bride take a long bath to wash away any thoughts of past loves or lives.

After the bride is ready for the wedding, the groom then picks the
bride up and they walk to the chapel together. While the bride and groom are walking towards the chapel children fill the streets and hold white ribbons in front of the couple where both bride and groom cute the ribbons to resemble breaking through obstacles.

Multiple traditions have been created in France and one that we use quite often in the US is the traditional layered wedding cake. But one specific cake the French have at their weddings is called a croquembouche, which is a pyramid of crème filled pastry puffs covered in a caramel glaze. Sounds pretty delicious!!

It originated in the Middle Ages when guests would bring pastries or small cakes and pile them together, if the couple could kiss over the top without knocking it over they would have a lifetime of prosperity. One that I think sounds a little dangerous is the beheading of a champagne bottle, but it is a way the French celebrate special celebrations. But it still seems crazy!

And on the night of wedding the guests would interrupt the bride and groom by banging pots and pans together until they would provide them with treats and drinks. It sounds like the French have a fun time celebrating marriage!

German Tradition – Bride & Groom Sawing a Log

In Germany they have a few pre-wedding traditions that they partake in. For example the bride and groom break plates, pots, or anything that will shatter and clean it up together. This helps to prepare the bride and groom for facing life’s trials together. Another excellent pre-wedding tradition is the friends and family take pictures of the bride and groom and publish a newspaper to be sold at the ceremony, this helps with the honeymoon expenses.

I think that is a tradition the US should take up! Wedding invitations are not the typical invitations that Americans send out. In fact in Germany they do not send out invitations, but they have an official inviter who goes door to door to each guest. Guests accept the invitation by pinning ribbon’s to the inviter’s hat and offer him a drink. It usually takes the inviter a few days to get through the guest list. The day of the wedding the bride does not wear a veil, she wears a tiara or flowery headbands and does not have a train on her dress.

Greece, Santorini

After the ceremony the bride and groom saw a log in half to symbolize overcoming life’s tough challenges together, and the guests throw rice. It is said that however much rice is left in the bride’s hair is how many children they will have. The car that the bride and groom take after the ceremony is decorated in flowers and the driver honks at the cars to get them to honk back, and wish the couple good luck.

The first drink the bride and groom have together is out of a Brautbecher, a crystal cup in the form of a maiden holding a small cup above her head. The bride and groom drink out of this together to symbolize their union. During the reception the bride is kidnapped by the groomsman and they take her to a pub, the groom has to find her and then everyone joins in on the fun, at midnight the bride takes off her crown and wears a bonnet, she then is blindfolded and has to catch a bridesmaid that is dancing around her, the one who she catches first is the one who will get married next.

Greek Wedding Hair Decoration

She then ties the bonnet to the bridesmaid she caught and that lucky lady dances with one of the grooms relatives around three lit candles, if they stay lit the marriage will be smooth. And what I find to pretty funny that everyone part takes in is they fill the bride and grooms room with balloons, they hide alarm clocks, take apart the bed, etc… Must be an exciting time to be a part of that celebration!

Everyone has seen my big fat Greek wedding, so does that mean what the movie portrays is true about Greek traditions? Well for the most part yes.

A tradition that is used here in the US is the groom asking the father for their daughters hand in marriage. A betrothal service is held and when the engagement is official and the rings are blessed by the priest. Before the betrothal service the mother of the bride spends years collecting household items for the dowry, which is presented to the couple. During the ceremony the rings that have been blessed once are blessed again.

Bride & Groom Linking Crowns

During the engagement the bride and groom wear there rings on the left hand and after the ceremony they are placed on the right hand. That is interesting because in the US we keep it on the left hand. In Greece, on any man and woman’s wedding day, they are honored as King and Queen for the day. So they wear crowns made of gold or orange blossoms and connect with a ribbon to signify the union. The best man, also known as the Koumbaros, is the one who leads the ceremony with the priest and places the crowns on the couples head.The best man also exchanges the rings between them 3 times to remind the couple that the weaknesses of one are compensated by the strengths of the other and vice versa. After the ceremony, the bride and groom walk around the alter three times to symbolize the trinity and the first walk as a married couple. For the reception traditional Greek food is served and Greek music is played, while the bride dances the guest’s pin money to the brides dress and of course, after the celebration they smash plates and shout OPA! For good luck.

Just in these three different cultures you can tell that many things have been carried over to the United States and we use those traditions to this day. One idea you can do for your wedding is to have it on a boat. We, meaning Boat Miami, have done a few cultural weddings on a boat. And they have actually worked. Can’t wait to learn about other wedding traditions from other cultures. Part two of the blog will contain more interesting facts of other cultures.

Whether you want your wedding on or off the boat we can help you by giving you some great destination wedding locations in the Miami and Ft Lauderdale area. We will give you reasonable prices for the yachts offered and hope to make your experience stress free. Boat Miami has been in the business for quite some time now and we have all the answers you need to plan your wedding. Call Us at 305.758.2500 for Free Quote.

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