Worldwide Wedding Traditions by Country


Wedding Traditions by Religion & Culture
Earth Centered
Native American
Orthodox Christian
Roman Catholic


Native American Wedding VasesA wedding vase is traditionally used by Native American couples in the Southwest but it is being used increasingly by couples everywhere drawn to the culture’s spirituality and reverence for nature, the earth, and the environment.Sea and Sky Wedding vase by Geraldine Vail, Navajo Indian ArtistDuring the ceremony each person drinks from a spout to symbolize both individuality and unity. The Sea and Sky Vase is one-of-a-kind, (shown on the left) hand etched and hand painted in New Mexico. It measures 8″ tall and is signed by the artist Geraldine Vail, a Navajo Indian.It is important to know that these vases are made to hold liquid for a very short period of time. The vase should be emptied and dried promptly after the ceremony and should never be used as a vessel for liquid which will destroy the vase.


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Where Did That Come From?

Did you ever wonder why the groom is “supposed” to carry the bride over the threshold? What does the saying “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” mean?

You would be surprised how some of these traditions and sayings originated:

In Western cultures, a wedding ring is traditionally worn on the ring finger. This developed from the Roman “annulus pronubis” when the man gave a ring to the woman at the betrothal ceremony. According to tradition in some countries (derived from Roman belief), the wedding ring is worn on the left ring finger because the vein in the left ring finger, referred to as the vena amoris was believed to be directly connected to the heart, a symbol of love.

Blessing the wedding ring and putting it on the bride’s finger dates from the 11th century. In medieval Europe, the Christian wedding ceremony placed the ring in sequence on the index, middle, and ring fingers of the left hand, representing the trinity — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit respectively. The ring was then left on the ring finger. In a few European countries, the ring is worn on the left hand prior to marriage, then transferred to the right during the ceremony. For example, a Greek Orthodox bride wears the ring on the left hand prior to the ceremony, then moves it to the right hand after the wedding. In England, the 1549 Prayer Book declared “the ring shall be placed on the left hand”. By the 17th and 18th centuries the ring could be found on any finger after the ceremony – even on the thumb.

In Norway, Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Latvia, some countries of former Yugoslavia and in Spain (except in Catalonia) the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger on the right hand.

In the Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom places the ring on the bride’s index finger, and not ring finger; the ring is usually moved to the ring finger after the ceremony.

In the Indian tradition, the left hand is considered inauspicious. Hence the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. However, despite tradition, some wear the ring on the left hand, matching cultural practice in some western countries. From

The wedding shower originated with a Dutch maiden who fell in love with an impoverished miller. Her friends “showered” her and her groom with so many gifts that they could forego her missing dowry.

Lucky is the bride who marries in old shoes.

Why “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”? The “old” was usually a personal gift from mother to daughter, a symbolic piece of wisdom for married life. “Something new”symbolized the new family formed by the couple. “Borrowing” is especially important, since it is to come from a happily married woman, thereby lending the bride some of her own marital bliss to carry into the new union. Blue has two traditions: Pagan Roman maidens wore blue on the borders of their robes to denote love, modesty and fidelity, while Christians associate it with the purity of the Virgin Mary.

The custom of carrying the bride over the threshold stems from the same belief that aroused the idea of runway carpet and strewing the aisle with flowers and petals. It was an ancient belief that the newly married couple was very susceptible to evil spirits. By carrying the bride and supplying a protective layer between the floor and bride, she would be protected from the ground monster.

The bridal veil is descendant from two sources. A woman’s face that was covered by a veil meant that she was spoken for. A veil was used to disguise the bride so that she would not be recognized by the evil spirits wishing to harm the vulnerable bridal couple.

The Jewish Chuppa canopy offered a sanctuary from evil spirits.

The kiss that seals the wedding is much more than a sign of affection. It has long been a token of bonding – the exchange of spirits as each partner sends a part of the self into the new spouse’s soul, there to abide ever after.

An old Scottish belief for good fortune: A bride should be met at the door after the wedding ceremony by her mother, who must then break a currant bun over her daughter’s head.

If a cat sneezes on the day before a wedding, the bride will be lucky in her marriage.

A young bride always wore her hair long and loose as a sign of her youth and innocence.


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