Your big day is not a celebration often relived, so why aspire to have a typical, run-of-the-mill wedding? Infuse your day with personality and character by embracing the rich culture that will surround you during your destination wedding.
Words: Ashley Hanger
Traditions unique to your destination add depth and meaning to a ceremony, charming guests with a celebration of heritage. On the plus side, immersing yourself in the culture presents the opportunity to ‘spice up’ your wedding, and will eliminate any chance of you disrespecting the culture of your destination.
We take a look 10 of these quirky but captivating cultural traditions.
African weddings revolved around celebrating the union of two families, infusing their celebrations with ethnic undertones. During the ceremony the bride and groom’s hands are tied together with braided grass representing their marriage and the pair literally ‘tying the knot’. To symbolise the couple’s hopes of building a home together, they also jump over an ornate, handmade broomstick to drum beats. Probably the most quirky of the African traditions would have to be the tasting of the four elements, adhering to the emotions within a relationship: sour (lemon), bitter (vinegar), hot (cayenne) and sweet (honey). It shows that the happy couple will make it through the hard times in order to enjoy the sweetness of marriage.
A full Greek Orthodox ceremony is tradition in Greece, with everything done in threes to coincide with the Holy Trinity, such as the rings being exchanged thrice. The most recognisable Greek tradition is the stefana, two metal or floral crowns joined by a ribbon that are placed on the bride and groom’s heads as a symbol of God bestowing his blessing, and the eternal bond the two will share.
In Spain, instead of sugar-coated almonds as favours for the guests, a doll dressed in a replica of the bridal gown sits at the head table displaying momentos of the wedding, or capia. These pins are distributed among the guests by the bride and groom, and are inscribed with the couple’s names and wedding date.
The Irish have strong beliefs around the supernatural, which are reflected in their wedding traditions. The bride will often carry a porcelain horse shoe down the aisle attached to her bouquet, which will later be hung above the front door of the newlyweds house for good luck.
Cranes are believed to live long lives in Japanese tradition. Hence, to symbolise longevity and good fortune, a thousand paper cranes are hung around the ceremony location.
The Balinese love theatrical affairs, reflected in their style of ‘elopement’ which is far more dramatic than the Western stereotype. A Ngerorod marriage is one where the bride is ‘kidnapped’ by her fiancé or his family and friends, and must feign distress, while her father stages a doomed search party as the bride is reunited with her groom and the two are wed.
Purely for the guest’s amusement, parents in Russia will steal their daughter and demand the groom pay a ransom for her return during festivities at the reception.
Hindus really think on their feet when exchanging wedding TOE rings. Customarily, the women wear their wedding rings on the second toe of their left foot, a characteristic of only married women.
Preparing the couples for the obstacles ahead is the theme of a German wedding, when all present take part in Polterbends. During the nuptials, the guests throw crockery and crack whips to create as much mayhem as possible, wishing the couple luck overcoming looming hurdles.
10. South Korea
It’s a wonder men are still keen on getting married, with the cruel but entertaining tradition of beating the groom’s bare feet with a cane or dried fish promptly after the nuptials. Falaka as this affliction is called is intended to test the groom’s strength and knowledge as he is often quizzed on various topics during his suffering.