Yes, making your wedding unique and memorable is a challenge even for the most creative and experienced wedding planners. Still, one of the more fun ways to make your wedding stand out is to do a little research and find wedding traditions unique to your family and cultural heritage. What follows is a list of traditions we have had the pleasure of working with our weddings here in Napa and Sonoma counties in Northern California.
1. Leave it to the French; tradition has it they invented the wedding reception, although it was originally termed the after party. In their tradition, wedding guests were tasked with clanking pots and making loads of noise in front of the honeymoon suite. This ruckus continues until the groom invites the guests in for some drinks and snacks.
2. French wedding cakes were almost always Croque en Bouche, which are pastry balls filled with yummy cream and drizzled with terrifyingly tasty caramel. Sure, it may not be your typical wedding cake, but who will care?
3. Coming to us from Italy, this wedding tradition involves the oh-so-delicious candied almonds. Imagine, if you will, the sweetness of the candy juxtaposed with the bitterness of the almond – an excellent allegory for the ups and downs of married life.
4. The Japanese celebrate traditional weddings with ceremonial drinking of locally sourced sake. The tradition involves both the bride and groom drinking nine cups of sake, which jointly celebrates the bonding of the couple and enough liquid courage to enjoy the tradition thoroughly.
5. A very practical tradition from Italy is to cut up the groom’s tie and auction off the pieces for cash (although we recently had a wedding where a Stripe credit card reader was used). The proceeds are then gifted to the newly wedded couple for use on their honeymoon.
6. India also has a unique tradition – the brides are decorated with henna before the wedding ceremony. In many weddings, professional Mehndi artists are hired to decorate both the feet and hands of all of the wedding guests to symbolize their well-wishes for the new bride.
7. But wait, you say – what about the Celts? Don’t they have wedding traditions? To be sure, the Celtic culture is stepped in meaningful traditions, but the most common is to have a piper lead both the processional and recessional. Even better, consider hiring a ceilidh band to entertain your guests during the happy hour and well into the night.
8. In Jewish ceremonies, the groom is asked to break a glass by stepping on it. This tradition goes back so far in the Jewish culture that historians have never been able to establish the origin of the tradition. Some say the glass will frighten evil spirits, while others believe the marriage will last for as long as it takes to reassemble the glass.
9. In African ceremonies, it is traditional for the couple to jump over a broom to symbolize starting their new lives together.
10. Russian weddings are a unique conglomeration of the new and the traditional. One popular tradition today is for a friend to give a toast to the couple at the beginning of the reception. Once the toast concludes, all of the guests are to drink their champagne and forcibly toss their glasses onto the floor. If the glass breaks, it is considered good luck for the bride and groom going forward.
Due to the constraints of blogs, it is not possible to cover every wedding tradition from across the planet. If you want to learn more about a specific culture’s wedding traditions, a visit to your local bookstore or library should provide you with ideas and inspiration. And who doesn’t need more of that?