Posts Tagged ‘cultural weddings’

The Scottish Wedding

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Continuing our world exploration of wedding customs, our tour takes us now to a country the nuptial roots of which wend back to ancient times. Some of these traditions prove quite unique and unexpected. No, we do not visit the Far East, or the vast reaches of Africa. We stop for this blog in Scotland. When I propose certain Scottish wedding traditions seem more Medieval than modern European, I can do so safely and without judgement, for this blogger’s own Celtic grandfather boasts a profile as craggy as the Highlands from which his people came.

Two church traditions are prevalent in modern Scotland, the Christian Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Scottish Catholic Church. Many marriages combine these two backgrounds, and many ceremonies reflect current trends. But there are also numerous historic touches that still color marriages in that beautiful country, as sure as a vein of gold in a tartan plaid. Here are some of them:

  • “Reeling”: No, not the dance, fun as that is. This is the custom of an engaged man stumbling around under the heavy weight of rocks in a basket tied to his back, courtesy of his friends. He can only escape when his bride-to-be consents to kiss him.
  • A bride’s feet may be washed in a basin of water containing a ring. The first girl to find the ring will be next to wed.
  • “A showing of presents” may take place at the bride’s home, with tea, sandwiches and cakes being served, or there may be a “spree,” the equivalent of a shower.
  • “Taking out the bride” may occur after the “showing” or “spree.” Sometimes the bride is dressed in a costume. She may carry a baby doll, but she and her friends definitely carry pots and pans, on which they loudly beat and sing as they walk through their town. The bride kisses villagers in exchange for money in her pot, which may also contain salt, a symbol of prosperity.
  • The groom gets a “stag night.” You can guess this often involves drinking with his friends, but what you probably won’t guess is that he’s often padded to look pregnant – and may have other embarrassing jokes played on him that could involve the stealing of his clothing!
  • Confetti and bagpipes may serenade the nuptial couple on their way to the ceremony.
  • Shortbread may be broken over the bride’s head for good luck.
  • The groom may give the bride a silver spoon engraved with the couple’s initials.
  • The reception often features more traditional music and dancing.

The Italian Wedding

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Long, long ago in Italy … a wedding scene might have looked like this: With her groom, a beautiful ebony-haired bride, her olive skin touched with the blush of romance, pledges her vows before a Roman priestess. Under a yellow cloak, the bride’s hemless tunic falls to the ground in a straight, supple line, allowing glimpses of her sandaled feet. Her hair is crowned with myrtle and orange blossoms. Supportive family gathers around, anticipating the feasting and the sacrifice of the best pig or sheep that will follow the ceremony.

Obviously a country where wedding traditions reach far back, Italy is now roughly 88% Catholic. It’s still a place where it is common for sons and daughters to live at home until they are wed, normally in Western wedding attire at a church mass. Sunday weddings are considered the luckiest. The bride will also try to avoid bad luck by not wearing gold on her wedding day (even her diamond engagement ring, which has been a commonly bestowed item in Italy since the 1400s!) until the wedding bands are exchanged. The bridal bouquet can sometimes be a gift from the groom, its colors unknown until he offers it to her, perhaps if he walks her to the church or meets her outside of it beforehand. Some couples stick to the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride until the ceremony. The bride also carries la borsa, a satin pouch meant to contain any monetary gifts from guests.

Following the ceremony, the nuptial couple is wished auguri (good luck) by the townspeople. Guests and wedding party will repair to the groom’s house, where in a lovely gesture his mother welcomes his bride with a palma. The palma consists of Jordan almonds arranged into a leaf-life formation and covered with cellophane. Guests toss confetti made up of candy, rice and grain. A wine glass may be broken with the number of its pieces symbolizing the happy years the couple will share together.

The best man begins the evening by serving drinks before dinner. Guests may toast the couple “Per cent’anni” or “for one hundred years.” The multi-course feasting can last four to six hours and be concluded with liqueur. Ceramic- or silver-plated gifts are presented to each family. And sometimes the groom’s tie is cut into sections and sold to the guests to finance the honeymoon! But, we guess that wouldn’t be too much of a problem if you’re one of the out-of-town guests whose accommodations were paid for by the bridal couple! After all, they need a little reimbursement, right?

5 Romantic Wedding Traditions from Around the World

Monday, February 10th, 2014

We all know the romantic wedding traditions in America, from jointly cutting the cake to the sweetheart table, but if you’re looking to mix things up a bit there are many traditions from around the world you can incorporate into your ceremony! We’ve chosen five to feature this week, but there are hundreds to choose from.

wedding, international, cake pull, wholesale event solutions

courtesy of Mark Eric Photography

An interesting variation of the bouquet toss comes from Peru. Wedding charms are placed between the layers of the wedding cake with ribbons attached. Prior to cutting the cake, unattached female guests pull the charms out. The idea is that the woman who pulls out the wedding ring charm will be the next to marry!

In Russia, grooms pay a ransom for their brides. At the start of a traditional Russian wedding ceremony, the groom will arrive at his bride’s residence and ask for her. Her family will then have a bit of fun asking him for gifts and making him complete silly tasks. He may have to tell jokes, perform funny dances or solve riddles. But it doesn’t stop there! After enduring their teasing, the bride’s family will often bring out a different family member disguised as her. The groom will then have to pay still more ransom to get to his actual bride! Once her family is satisfied, the ceremony moves forward, but watch out! The bride (or her shoe!) can be stolen again during the reception and require still more ransom to be returned to the groom.

From either Hawaiian or Native American tradition (the history is unclear) comes the unity sand ceremony. In this tradition, the bride and groom pour sand into a glass vessel symbolizing the coming together of lives. Unlike the ephemeral unity candle ceremony, the result is a beautiful keepsake that can be displayed forever. This tradition adapts well to modern times with the use of different colored sands. In blended families, children can be involved in the ceremony by adding their own colored sand representing their joining into the new family.

wedding, sunrise, beach

courtesy of Frank Simonetti – Photographer

In Mexico, rather than forming a circle around the bride and groom for the first dance, guests hold hands and form a heart!

Last, there is a wonderful tradition from Navajo culture is for the couple to face east during the ceremony. Facing the direction the sun rises symbolizes a new day dawning and a new beginning together.

Let us know in the comments if you know of any romantic traditions from around the world. We’d love to hear from you!

Cultural Wedding Series: Hindu Indian Weddings

Friday, March 9th, 2012

This blog writer once had the unforgettable experience of peeking inside an Indian woman’s closet. The saris were every color of the rainbow, even the pastels brilliant! The lady showed me the sari she had worn to her daughter’s wedding. Its richness was breath-taking.

Traditional mehendi drawn on the hand of a bride.

A Hindu Indian bride’s sari is richly decorated in gold embroidery and bangles. Brides from Northern India prefer red, Northeast India white with a red border, the South yellow, green and white silk, and the West an embroidered skirt with a blouse. Most all Indian brides present themselves fragranced with perfume, palms of hands and feet painted with mehendi designs, hair bedecked with flowers, necks draped with necklaces, and ankles gracefully moving with tinkling silver anklets called payals.

Hindu grooms are not to be outdone. They sometimes sport a sword and a jewel-decorated turban called a tupi and arrive for their wedding on horseback, preceded by a brass band!

The Brahmin priest officiates before a fire-lit metal vessel representing the Radiant One. The bride and groom exchange garlands and affirmations and walk around the fire. The groom’s father puts his daughter’s hand into the groom’s and pours priest-blessed water over their hands. A tali (a jewel set in gold) is secured around the bride’s neck to tell the world she is now a married woman. Guests receive perfume and flowers and can enjoy several days of fancy dinners.

Following some Hindu Indian marriage ceremonies, the bride’s sisters ransom her! They take her to their house where the groom has to pay a call and bribe the sisters with gifts before they will let him take her home!  Not a bad idea, right?

Cultural Wedding Series: The Muslim/Sikh Indian Wedding

Friday, February 17th, 2012

India: a land of mystery, beauty, and long-standing traditions. Marriage in India is greatly influenced by the religious culture, and that’s why we’ll be dividing our discussion into two parts: Muslim/Sikh and Hindu.

There are a few similarities between the types of unions. Engagements in India were traditionally accompanied by a bridal dowry, which has since been outlawed. Still, sometimes the bride and groom initially meet each other at their engagement party, where gifts are given and sweets are served! Being of the same caste (social standing and function) is of utmost importance. Weddings are often held in a tent, courtyard or garden of the home of one of the pair. And sometimes in India, as well as Iran, Syria and Turkey, the couple may try to step on each other’s toes during the ceremony because it’s said the one who succeeds will be the boss of the new union!

In the Shiite Muslim culture of India, it’s not uncommon for cousins to marry. The guardian of the man proposes to the girl’s guardian. The groom’s mother and female friends will then bring sweets to the bride. Sometimes the bride will show her face to the groom and his family. The groom’s mother ties the traditional Imam Zamin (coin wrapped in silk) on the bride’s right arm.

In Sikh Indian families, the groom’s family often gives a thread with five knots tied in it to the bride’s parents, five days before the wedding. Each day one knot is untied. On the wedding day, guests arrive at the bride’s home with coconuts, sugar, money and jewelry. Muslim and Sikh brides wear a kameeze (long, embroidered tunic) over shalwar (baggy trousers). Men wear a white jacket with a stand-up collar and white trousers. The bride’s father provides a long scarf which is held between the bride and groom as a symbol of unity. With a granthi officiating, the couple walks four times around the Granth Sahib holy book.

After the ceremony, the men go to a banquet hall for a meal of curried vegetables and salad, rice, yogurt and chappatis prepared by the bride’s family. The father of the bride goes home to bid her farewell before she leaves with her groom in a decorated getaway car.

Did you or a friend have an Indian wedding?  Share your memories!  And check back soon to learn more about Hindu Indian brides and grooms.

Cultural Weddings Series: The Jewish Wedding

Friday, February 10th, 2012

How many of you have seen Fiddler on the Roof? If you have, scenes from the sacred-turns-riotous wedding are forever imprinted on your mind. The symbolism and simple beauty of the ceremony giving way to joyous celebration presented the very essence of the historic Jewish wedding. Now days, things may have changed, but Jewish weddings here and abroad often echo these same traditions, most strongly among the Orthodox Jews, but also somewhat with the Conservative or Reform congregants.

Traditionally, many Jewish matches were made when the children were quite young. There might have been a ceremonial betrothal meeting where the bride unveiled her face to the groom-to-be. Seven days before the actual marriage, the bridal dowry would have been displayed and a party given for the bride.

Currently, Western Jewish weddings take place at any time other than the Sabbath (Friday night/Saturday). Among the approximately 29% of Jews in Israel and the 45% in the U.S. and Canada – with large pockets in New York and Los Angeles (Weddings: Dating & Love Customs of Cultures Worldwide – Mordecai) – the ceremony may be held at a temple, home or outdoors. The bride wears a white or cream veil, which the groom – clad in a yarmulke (skull cap) and tallith (prayer shawl) – lifts after he tastes the wine. She then sips from the same cup (the “loving cup”). The couple stands together under the chuppah (canopy) which represents the sweet unity of their future home. The bride’s ring is a simple gold band. At the end of the ceremony, a goblet wrapped in cloth may be placed on the floor and smashed by the groom, symbolizing the destruction of the Jewish temple. Shouts of “mazel tov” (“good luck”) echo from the guests.

Orthodox Jewish couples are entertained at a reception, held at a hall or a home, by guests dancing in segregated circles to folk music. A line dance may also be performed during which the bridal pair are lifted into the air while seated on their chairs – as seen in Fiddler.

If you or your spouse-to-be claim Jewish ancestry, including some of these cultural touches can make your ceremony unique and memorable. We wish you “mazel tov!”