There is no denying that the American wedding is a formidable beast, boasting a bevy of quirky traditions that practically defy explanation. (Though you can watch us try by reading Monday's post about the bizarre origins of eight wedding customs.) But we'd be remiss to let you think that Anglo-Saxons have the monopoly on wacky wedding rituals. Thus, we present to you here a quick round up of matrimonial mores from cultures around the world.
Iran, Syria, Turkey and India
During a traditional wedding ceremony in these countries, the bride and groom jostle for a chance to step on each other's toes. The first to get off a solid stomp on their beloved's foot will supposedly be the "boss" in the marriage. Note to all Iranian, Syrian, Turkish and Indian grooms: Let the lady have this one. Gender subtext aside, there is a far more important issue at stake here—never mess with a woman's wedding shoes. One thoughtless smudge could mean the difference between lifelong happiness and a never-ending world of pain. Think before you step.
Swiss bridesmaids take part in the tradition of throwing colored handkerchiefs at the wedding guests. Any guest who catches one is then expected to give the bride and groom money. What, the sterling silver gravy boat and matching sorbet spoons I got you weren't enough? We American couples have a slightly more subtle way of getting guests to dole out straight cash—checking the "˜Gift Cards are Welcome' option on your wedding registry.
Grooms in Korea will ask one of their successfully married buddies to carve them two small wooden ducks and bequeath them as a wedding gift, thus bringing good luck for him and his new bride. One has to wonder, though: how many of those little wooden suckers to you think get re-gifted to the next bride and groom who come a knockin'? "Hmm"¦ do I want to risk my own digits attempting to crudely carve a new pair of ducks, or do I just whip out the ones we've been "˜storing' under the bathroom sink since we got married? That's a toughie."
During the reception at some French weddings, guests will drop cake and bites of food from the wedding feast into a centrally located chamber pot and top it off with a generous pour from a few celebratory beverages. The resulting concoction is then to be imbibed by the bride and groom. We threw up a little just writing this.
"¢ A bride in the Greek countryside will celebrate her marriage by plopping a young boy on her lap and then ceremoniously placing an edible, baked biscuit ring around his neck. If shopping mall Santas are any indication, we have to assume that what happens next involves spontaneous crying and the painful extrication of candy cane from the bride's hair. Good news is that it will probably yield at least a few "Aww"-worthy photos.
"¢ After the wedding, the bride throws a ripe pomegranate at a door covered in honey. If seeds from the fruit stick to the door, it is believed to be a sign that the couple will be very fertile and be blessed with many children. Our question is this: upon completing this ceremonial act, would it be uncouth for the bride to then touch her finger to her nose and yell "Not it!"? Because we have to assume that a door covered in honey and pomegranate juice is no easy clean-up job. Though perhaps it would be good practice for the variety of sticky, gooey messes that will undoubtedly be made by the many future children they will apparently be having.
"¢ During the wedding reception, friends of the newlyweds will "kidnap" the bride and hold her for ransom. It is the duty of the groom to notice she is missing and then negotiate the payment for her safe return. While we assume that this is all done in jest, and the bride will likely never come to any real harm, we can't say the same for any groom who takes a little too long to notice her absence. God hath no wrath like a woman locked in captivity while wearing a corset bra.
"¢ On the second day of revelry for a Russian wedding, any guests, friends or family that are still around soaking up the fun will take part in the tradition of scattering money around a room. Once the floor is covered in cash, the bride is instructed to grab a broom and get to work sweeping it up. Upon scooping up the last of the spare change, the bride counts up her haul and then exclaims, "Oh come on people. We paid for a frickin' five-hour open bar. Pony up!"
Jenn Thompson is a freelance writer for publications including Charlotte Magazine, Weddings Unveiled, and The Atlantan. Superstar researcher Kathleen Pierce helped dig up these traditions.