When it comes to unique traditions, the UK’s moments of matrimony certainly aren’t lacking in supply. From throwing the bouquet to lobbing paper at your nearest and dearest, the nation’s quirky favourites all firmly stand the test of time. But a quick trip across the globe reveals we’re not the only ones with a few different nuptial must-haves. Check out our guide to some of the more unusual, surprising and downright bizarre wedding traditions from around the world.
‘Blackened Brides’ – As pre-nuptial celebrations go, lobbing a bucket of treacle, eggs, flour, soot and feathers over the bride and groom easily takes top spot for all out carnage. If they can find a few locals willing to let them in – sticky concoction and all – then it’s a mass pub-crawl for afters. Why do it? If you can handle a bunch of your pals covering you head to toe in slime you can handle anything, apparently…. even marriage.
‘Straw boys’ – Brides are treated to a wedding dance with a difference in Mayo and Leitrim, where it’s customary for a group of 9 willing lads to don straw masks and dance with maiden fair (and any other lucky ladies in the vicinity) on the eve of her wedding.
And in Ireland’s second addition to proceedings, when it’s time to hit the floor for that iconic first dance, not only do the bride and groom need to remember their steps but legend dictates the bride’s feet must stay firmly on the ground at all times, or she’ll be swept away by evil fairies.
In order to set a date for their wedding, it’s customary for the Daur bride and groom to kill and gut a baby chick in order to inspect its liver. Why? If the liver looks to be in top condition, they’re given the go ahead to choose a date. If not, the process has to be repeated until a satisfactory organ is found.
Swedish celebrations, gents. As weird wedding traditions go, possibly one of the easier deals on the page. Why? Kissing. And it’s not limited to the bride and groom either. No, sir. Should one or the other happen to leave the reception room at any point, the guests are permitted to plant as many smackers as they wish on the party left behind.
Many moons ago, in frankly questionable times, it was customary for friends of the happy couple to send them to their room following the wedding reception so a mass clean-up could begin. So far so good. It was also customary to collect any scraps of leftover food, unfinished drinks (?!) and any other bits deemed suitable and place them in a chamber pot. Why? For the newlyweds to drink (and thus gain strength and vitality, apparently). Luckily modern times find the leftovers substituted with chocolate and champagne, but the toilet bowl still remains.
‘Charivari’ – having already sipped from a chamber pot earlier on in the day, there’s no let-up for the bride and groom come nightfall either, as friends and family gather en masse outside the newlyweds’ home to bang on pots and pans and scream, yell, shout and pretty much make as much noise as possible until the early hours. To top it off? The couple are expected to give a nod of thanks by keeping the noisy crowds fed and watered!
According to traditions followed by the Tindong tribe in Sabah, newly married couples must stay confined to the house and, more importantly, are forbidden from using the toilet for THREE DAYS following their wedding. Oh, and they’re not allowed to eat or drink anything for the duration either. Why? The number three is considered to be evil by the tribe, so failure to follow the ritual risks a whole heap of bad luck on their part.
In Yugur culture the run up to the big day isn’t just the time for the groom to recap his vows. It’s also the time for him to whip out a bow and arrow…. and shoot his bride. Three times to be exact (although we should point out that any and all arrowheads have been removed prior to firing the missiles at his beloved). By collecting and breaking the fired missiles, he’ll ensure their love will last forever.
First up from Germany’s hat-trick of traditions is the ‘Polterabend’, or ‘ghost evening’, which occurs the night before the wedding and roughly consists of a free-for-all on the bride and groom’s collection of porcelain in a bid to ward off evil spirits.
Next up, ‘Kössenbitter’. And time for one of the bride’s cousins, fully suited and booted in tux and top hat to do his bit by delivering the wedding invitations. In keeping with tradition, each recipient rewards him with two glasses of schnapps (one each to signify the bride and groom). Handily he’s given more than a few days to get the job finished. In a less than orderly fashion, we suspect.
Completing Germany’s triple tradition whammy comes the ‘Baumstamm sägen’, or ‘tree log sawing’. Does what it says on the tin. When the ceremony’s over the bride and groom have to work together to successfully saw a log in half in a cracking display of unity for the watching crowds.
Once the wedding ceremony’s over in South Korea, a bunch of the groom’s mates nab his socks and shoes, tie a rope around his ankles and beat the soles of his feet with dried yellow corvina fish in an attempt to prepare him for married life.
In some parts of India it’s customary for a groom to remove his shoes before approaching the wedding altar. Which also signifies the exact moment the occasion turns into a well-heeled free-for-all as each and every member of the bride’s family tries to steal the recently removed footwear, while the groom’s nearest and dearest do their best to protect them. If the bride’s folks are successful they’ll hold the shoes hostage until a ransom is paid.