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Updated: Jun 26, 2022

Summer is with us and we are able to get out and enjoy the better weather. For me it’s a local dog walk or a cycle ride. One of my walks takes me past my local church and I also cycle past a nearby wedding venue. June is such a popular wedding month. I frequently see weddings arriving, the bride in a beautiful white dress, bridesmaids in matching colours. But why do we have these traditions – bridal white and throwing confetti and so on. And, what traditions do other cultures have?

We are very much a multi-faith and multi-cultural community now. I’m often asked to include cultural traditions in a ceremony. It’s important for me to understand and respect the wishes of my bride, groom and their family heritage. All cultures have customs, rituals, symbols and traditions that are particularly meaningful to them.

How about:

The sperm whale tooth of Fiji

  • Did you know that in Fiji, it is customary for the groom to provide the bride’s father with a tooth from a sperm whale? It is known as a Tabua and the groom and his family give it to the parents of his future bride when asking for permission to marry. It represents wealth. In Fiji the whale tooth also represents power and significance and is also used at many other ceremonies and also worn by individuals of high status.

Kidnapping the bride in Germany

  • One German tradition, known as Polterabend, involves guests smashing porcelain cups and plates. Guests are invited to the bride’s house for this lore and it is supposed to bring good luck. Polterabend comes from the phrase ‘noisy evening’ – well, it would be with all that smashing of plates, cups and saucers!!! When it comes to the wedding day the bride is kidnapped by the best man and friends and taken to a restaurant or pub. The groom must find the bride or pay the tab if unsuccessful! This makes it either a worthwhile or expensive chase. After the wedding has ended, the couple saw a log which emphasises the importance of working together.

Beating feet with a fish in Korea!

  • A Korean custom sees the groom’s shoes being removed and his feet being beaten with a fish! It is seen as a test of the groom’s strength of character. In the absence of fish, his feet are beaten with a cane. Seems a bit harsh to me………

Throwing the bouquet

  • As we know, in Britain there is the tradition of throwing the bouquet of flowers in the air to see who catches it. This is said to increase the chance of marriage to the winner. However, did you know that the wearing of the white wedding dress was popularised by the Victorians and that the tradition of dancing with different partners at a wedding was a way for the men attending to find a future bride!

The French Love a Croquembouche

  • In France at a wedding, they have witnesses as opposed to bridesmaids and a best man, the ceremonies are split into two sections, a civil ceremony at the Town Hall to register the wedding and is often a small family affair and it is followed by a larger religious ceremony which is the peak of the celebration. At the wedding breakfast there is usually a croquembouche, a tall tower of cream filled pastry topped with caramel, as a centre piece and is served in place of a wedding cake.

The Origin of Confetti from Italy

  • In Italy, weddings traditionally start with the groom serenading his about to be wife and he also passes her the bouquet! Also, the colour or precious metal gold is not worn on the wedding day as it is believed to bring bad luck. For good luck, sugar coated almonds are passed around, these are known as confetti, which is where the word originates from. As the couple leave the church they are showered with rice, a blessing for fertility.

The traditional wedding cake that we are used to seeing might be frosted in white, but lots of countries bring their own culture into the mix with all sorts of different colours and flavours, as mentioned earlier with the French tradition of the croquembouche.

In some countries it is also common, as a polite gesture, to pay the bride for a dance, especially in the poorer regions such as Eastern Europe. This used to be done when times were hard economically. Today it is more common now to be given gifts rather than money.

As a Family Celebrant I attend a lot of multi-cultural weddings where it is lovely to see these traditions amalgamated. It makes each ceremony so much more individual, bespoke and memorable.

Should you wish include any of these traditions in your wedding ceremony then receive your free guide to Wedding Traditions Around the World at or give me a call on 07535 721496 and I can forward you a copy.

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