Wedding season is here, and with it comes all the wedding traditions Americans have come to expect. The exchange of rings and vows, tossing the bouquet, and heartfelt (sometimes hilarious) Champagne toasts are some of the things that make weddings memorable and fun.
Have you ever wondered what wedding traditions are like in other countries? We love learning about the cultural customs of our artisan partners and their communities. So we rounded up five of our favorite wedding traditions from around the world.
When the groom enters the wedding ceremony, tradition dictates that he remove his shoes. As soon as they are off his feet, the bride’s unmarried sisters and female cousins snatch them and run off laughing! Once the shoes are hidden in a spot the groom’s family will never find, the ransom negotiations begin. Joota chupai, as the tradition is called, is all in good fun. The two families are united in laughter and have a few moments of cheerful bonding in the midst of the wedding. And the shoes are eventually returned (for a fee).
Traditional Cambodian weddings can last up to three days! They follow a ritual of seven separate ceremonies, each with a different costume. Each is based on the legendary marriage of Preah Thong and Neang Neak, the symbolic founders of the pre-Angkorian state of Funan. Although most Cambodian couples now opt for a shorter version, their weddings often still include elaborate and colorful costume changes.
The Maasai are a semi-nomadic tribe in Kenya with a rich cultural heritage. On her wedding day, a bride is adorned in her finest jewelry and goes to meet (sometimes for the first time) her new husband. At the end of the ceremony, her father spits on her head in order to bless the union, and the couple walks off to their home. Tradition holds that she is not to look back, no matter how long the walk is to her new village.
There’s nothing quite like a dramatic finale! At Filipino wedding receptions, the newly married couple will often release a pair of white doves into the sky to symbolize marital harmony and peace.
There are many beautiful customs in Indian weddings, but one of the most beloved is the Mehndi ceremony. The ritual takes place just before the actual wedding and is organized by the bride’s family. Intricate designs are hand-painted directly onto the bride’s skin with a paste made of dried and powdered henna leaves. The elaborate body art often includes paisley, vines, and flowers. Many of the henna artists even hide the groom’s initials within the design. Friends and family are included in the festivities, and even feed the bride sweets while she sits still so the paste can dry.