These days it may seem like all weddings are pretty much the same. Sure, each couple has their own vows and might throw in something a little out of the ordinary, but you generally know what to expect.
All the more reason you may want to adopt a tradition from another culture to make your special day truly unique...and to keep your guests on their toes.
The term “tying the note” comes from this ancient custom that’s a part of many cultures, but has particular importance in the Celtic tradition. During the ceremony, the officiant uses a ribbon, rope or cloth to literally tie the bride’s and groom’s wrists together in a figure eight to symbolize the joining together of two lives for eternity.
To add a bit of drama to the proceedings, Romanian brides are often faux-kidnapped by friends or family members right before the ceremony. She’s then held for “ransom,” in the form of the groom coming to the rescue with a dramatic declaration of love or a couple bottles of whiskey, which earns him his bride back.
There are similar traditions in other European countries; in Wales, for example, the best man is in charge of spiriting the bride away to a local pub. When the groom arrives, he pays the tab and gets the girl.
- The American South
If you’ve ever been to a good, old fashioned Southern wedding and you’re a single girl, then you may be familiar with the charming tradition of cake pulls. With its roots in Victorian times, the custom calls for unmarried women to gather around the wedding cake before it’s cut. They each chose a ribbon loop that’s sticking out at the bottom of the cake. They all pull their ribbons at the same time and see which little silver charm is attached, as each charm is supposed to be a fortune: a shamrock for good luck, a ring for the next to marry, or a hot air balloon for a life of travel.
You may have been to a wedding recently in which the bride’s and groom’s actual wedding rings were passed around to all of the guests during the ceremony. The so-called “ring warming” tradition is a symbolic way for the couple’s friends and family members to pass on their well wishes for the marriage. A similar Australian tradition has the wedding guests each pick up a small stone, hold onto it throughout the ceremony and then drop it into a bowl afterwards. The couple then keeps this bowl in their home to remind them of the support of their loved ones.
Just married couples in Deutschland don’t get to be careless newlyweds for long – after they say “I do,” they sometimes saw a log in half in front of their cheering friends and family. They use a 2-handled saw and a bit of teamwork to symbolize the obstacles that a married couple will have to work together to overcome during their lives.
A Turkish bride will have her single bridesmaids or friends sign the soles of her wedding shoes before she takes her trip down the aisle. They say that the name that’s rubbed out the most by the end of the night will be the next to get wed herself.
The most in-demand person at any wedding is the bride, of course, so it makes sense that Polish wedding guests would pony up to get a dance with her. Each guest that wants a turn slips the maid of honor some bills, and gives her a spin before being replaced by another dancer. The fun tradition helps to fund the couple’s honeymoon. Similar money dances are done in a great many other cultures as well; sometimes money is paid to dance with the groom and cash is pinned to the bride and groom’s clothes. It turns out everyone loves showering cash on newlyweds.
The bride and groom are the VIPs of their wedding, so why shouldn’t they make an entrance worthy of their status? In this middle-eastern tradition, the groom or the bride and groom enter amid an over-the-top spectacle of costumed performers, singing, dancing and sometimes even sword throwers.
You may want to add one of these unique customs to your own wedding to make your nuptials truly special and all your own. Choose one that has a special cultural connection to you or your partner or just pick something that sounds fun and symbolic of your relationship.