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International Weddings

Muslim Weddings

Although Christian weddings in the Arab World bear similarities to Western weddings, Muslim weddings in the Arab countries are influenced by Muslim traditions. Muslim weddings start with a Sheikh and Al-kitaab (book) for the bride and groom. A wedding is not Islamically valid unless both bride and groom are willing, and the groom is often encouraged to visit her before the wedding (as advised in many a‑%ad+th of the Islamic prophet Muhammad). However, these visits must be chaperoned to ensure purity of action between the two. Men and women in wedding ceremonies and receptions are segregated, with areas for men and for women.


Chinese Weddings 

Traditional Chinese marriage is a ceremonial ritual within Chinese societies that involve a marriage established by pre-arrangement between families. Within Chinese culture, romantic love was allowed, and monogamy was the norm for most ordinary citizens. A band of musicians with gongs and flute-like instruments accompanies the bride parade to groom's home. Similar music is also played at the wedding banquet. Depending on the region that the bride hails from, Chinese weddings will have different traditions such as Tea Ceremony or the use of a wedding emcee. Also in modern times, Chinese couples will often go to photo studios to take "glamour shots" posing in multiple gowns and various backgrounds.

Cantonese Weddings 

Most Cantonese wedding rituals follow the main Chinese wedding traditions, although some rituals are particular to the Cantonese people. In a Cantonese wedding the bride price is based on the groom's economic status. The idea of "selling the daughter" or bride isn't a phrase that is used often therefore the price of the bride isn't too demanding. Most of the time the bride price is in the form of gold jewelry, fine fabric, or money, even a roast pig which symbolizes the bride to be a virgin. Wedding presents are given by the elderly couples or couples that are older than the newlyweds and tea is served by the younger family members.


French Weddings 

In France, only civil weddings are legally recognized and they are performed in the town hall by the mayor (or another civil servant acting on his/her behalf). At least one of the spouses must reside in the town where the ceremony takes place. Since many people choose to also have a religious wedding, the religious ceremony often takes place immediately after the civil one. Town halls often offer a more elaborate ceremony for couples who do not wish to marry religiously. 

If the two ceremonies take place separately, the civil one will usually include close family and witnesses. Once the civil ceremony is complete, the couple will receive a livret de famille, a booklet where a copy of the marriage certificate is recorded. This is an official document and, should the couple have children, each child's birth certificate will be recorded in the livret de famille too. The civil ceremony in France is free of charge. 

In smaller French towns, the groom may meet his fiancÈe at her home on the day of the wedding and escort her to the chapel where the ceremony is being held. As the couple proceeds to the chapel, children will stretch long white ribbons across the road which the bride will cut as she passes. 

At the chapel, the bride and groom are seated on two red velvet chairs underneath a silk canopy called a carre. Laurel leaves may be scattered across their paths when they exit the chapel. Sometimes small coins are also tossed for the children to gather. 

At the reception, the couple customarily uses a toasting cup called a Coupe de Mariage. The origin of giving this toast began in France, when a small piece of toast was literally dropped into the couple's wine to ensure a healthy life. The couple would lift their glass to "a toast", as is common in Western culture today. 

Some couples choose to serve a croquembouche instead of a wedding cake. This dessert is a pyramid of crËme-filled pastry puffs, drizzled with a caramel glaze. 

At a more boisterous wedding, tradition involves continuing the celebration until very late at night. After the reception, those invited to the wedding will gather outside the newlyweds' window and bang pots and pans; this is called a shivaree. They are then invited into the house for some more drinks in the couple's honor, after which the couple is finally allowed to be alone for their first night together as husband and wife. This practice spread throughout France as a way to celebrate special occasions. Decorative replicas of these special sabres can be purchased from artisans in Lyon, (the French capital of cutlery). 

Greek Weddings

Marriage in the Eastern Orthodox Church 

Two or three days before the wedding, the couple organizes a celebration called Krevati (Greek for bed) in their new home. In Krevati, friends and relatives of the couple put money and young children on the couple's new bed for prosperity and fertility in their life. After the custom, they usually have a party with food and music. 

On the day of the wedding, usually Saturday, but also Friday or Sunday, the groom cannot see the bride until the wedding ceremony. The groom usually arrives first in church and waits for bride, who usually arrives late. After they exchange flower bouquets, they have the wedding ceremony, where the best man puts the wedding rings and crowns on the couple. The couple drink red wine from the same glass (between one and three sips, depending on the tradition). This is not "communion" in the formal religious sense, but about sharing the cup of life. At the end of the wedding ceremony, as the newly wedded pair leave the church, the guests throw rice and flowers for fertility and felicity. Special guests, such as close friends and family receive sugar-coated almonds (traditionally an odd number, usually seven but sometimes five) as a gift from the couple. Most Greek ceremonies are Orthodox. 

After the ceremony, usually the couple hold a great wedding party in some place with plenty of food, drinks, music and dance, usually until next morning. The wedding party starts with the invited people waiting for the couple, who usually come after some time. They start the party dancing blues and eating a piece of their wedding cake. In some point of the party, they also dance the traditional zeibekiko (groom) and Áiftetelli (bride). 

In many places of Greece, where they hold a more traditional wedding, they usually play only traditional music and eat local food. For example in the region of Cyclades, they eat the traditional pasteli (solid honey with sesame) and in the region of Crete they cook rice with goat. In most traditional weddings, they bake whole animals like pigs, goats or sheep just like the Greek Easter celebration. Before the church ceremony, especially in smaller areas, usually friends and relatives of the bride and the groom, accompanies them separately to the church playing traditional instruments, according to the region 

A typical Greek wedding will usually have more than 100 invited people (but usually 250-500) who are friends, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, first or second cousins, neighbors and colleagues. It is common to have guests whom the couple has never met before. This is because the people who will be invited are usually determined by the parents of the couple and not by the couple themselves. Traditionally, the whole village would have attended the wedding, so very often the parents invite friends of theirs and their children, to the weddings of their own children. 

There are many other traditions which are local to their regional areas. One famous tradition is the pinning of money on the bride's dress. This custom originated in one part of Greece, where it is a substitute for wedding presents, however it has become more widespread recently. 

Italian Weddings 

In some parts of Italy, a party, known as a Serenade, is thrown outside of the bride's home by the groom. His family and friends come and wait for the bride, entertaining themselves until she appears. The groom then sings to his bride to further seduce her. Once his song is sung, the party ends. 

The day of the wedding, the groomsmen try their hardest to make the groom as uncomfortable as possible by saying things like "Maybe she forgot where the church is". 

It is also traditional for the grooms family to give a dowry to the bride and to provide the engagement ring. The bride's family is then responsible for receiving the guests of the wedding in their home for a reception afterward. 

The color green is very important in the Italian wedding. In Italy, the tradition of something blue is replaced with something green. This color brings good luck to the married couple. The veil and bridesmaids also were important in an Italian wedding. The tradition began in Ancient Rome when the veil was used to hide the bride from any spirits that would corrupt her and the bridesmaids were to wear similar outfits so that the evil spirits were further confused. 

An old Roman custom was that brides threw nuts at rejected suitors as they left the ceremony.[12] 

After dessert, more dancing commences, gifts are given, and the guests eventually begin to leave. In Southern Italy, as the guests leave, they hand envelopes of money to the bride and groom, who return the gift with a wedding favor or bomboniere, a small token of appreciation. 

Jewish Weddings

Throughout the world, Jewish Weddings are officiated by Rabbis. There is a great deal of ritual in a Jewish Wedding Ceremony, including  the signing of the "Ketubah" (wedding contract), exchanging vows beneath the "chuppah" (wedding canopy), "sheva brachot" (seven nuptual blessings) and the "breaking of the glass."

Polish Weddings 

In Polish weddings the celebrations may continue for two or three days. In the past, the engagement ceremony was organized by the future groom as a formal family gathering, during which he asked his chosen lady to marry him. In the recent years this custom has changed and today an engagement is much more personal and intimate. An elegant dinner party afterward is still a nice way to inform the closest family members about the couples' decision to get married. 

In some regions of Poland the tradition to invite the wedding guests in person is still upheld. Many young couples, accompanied by the parents, visit their family and friends to hand them the wedding invitations personally. 

According to the old tradition a groom arrives with his parents at the house of a bride just before the wedding ceremony. At that time both parents and parents-in-law give a young couple their blessing. The couple enter the church together and walks up to the altar followed by two witnesses and the parents. In Poland it is quite unusual for the bride to be walked down the aisle or to have bridesmaids and groomsmen in a wedding. The couple is assisted by two witnesses, a man (usually grooms' side) and a woman (usually brides' side) who are either family members or close friends. 

The Polish bride traditionally wears a white dress and a veil. The groom, on the other hand usually wears a fitted suit with a bow tie and a boutonniËre that matches the brides' bouquet. During the ceremony wedding rings are exchanged and both the husband and wife wear them on their right hand. Right after the ceremony the closest family and all the guest form a line in the front of the church to congratulate the newlyweds and wish them love and happiness. As soon as the married couple leave the church they get showered with rice for luck or guests drop coins at their feet for them to pick up. This is done to ensure a good and prosperous future for the newlyweds. 

Once all the guests have showered the couple with kisses, hugs and flowers everyone heads to the reception. It is a custom in Poland to prepare "passing gates" on the way to the reception for the newlyweds who, in order to pass, have to give the "gate keepers" some vodka. This is a misinterpretation of an earlier tradition, where the "passing gates" were built if the bride was an orphan and money collected by "gate keepers" from the guests was handed over to the bride as her dowry (being an orphan usually implied poverty). 

The married couple is welcomed at the reception place by the parents with bread and salt. The bread symbolizes the prosperity, salt stands for hardship of life, the parents wish the young couple that they never go hungry and learn how to deal with every day hardships together. The wedding party lasts (and the bride and groom remain) until the last guest leaves, usually until morning. 

In Poland, movements like Human Liberties Crusade or Wedding of the Weddings promote non-alcoholic wedding celebrations. 

Scottish Weddings

Scotland is a popular place for young English couples to get married since, in Scotland, parents' permission is not required if both the bride and groom are old enough to legally be married (16). In England it was the case that if either was 16 or 17 then the permission of parents had to be sought. Thus Scotland, and especially the blacksmith's at Gretna Green, became a very popular place for couples to elope to, especially those under 18 and usually living in England. Gretna Green now hosts hundreds of weddings a year and is Scotland's third most popular tourist attraction. 

Customs: 

* The bride's family sends invitations on behalf of the couple to the wedding guests, addressed by hand. The couple may send the invitations themselves, especially if they are more middle-aged. The invites will specify if the invitation is for ceremony and/or reception and/or evening following the meal at the reception. 

* Guests send or deliver wedding gifts to the bride's family home before the wedding day. Alternatively, the couple may register at department store and have a list of gifts there. The shop then organizes delivery, usually to the bride's parents' house or to the reception venue. 

* A wedding ceremony takes place at a church, register office or possibly another favorite location, such as a hilltop. In this regard Scotland differs significantly from England where only pre-approved public locations may be used for the wedding ceremony. Most ceremonies take place mid afternoon and last about half an hour during which the marriage schedule is signed by the couple and two witnesses, usually the best man and chief bridesmaid. 

* The newly wed couple may leave the ceremony to the sound of bagpipes. 

* There is a wedding reception following the ceremony, usually at a different venue. 

* The bridal party lines up in a receiving line and the wedding guests file past, introducing themselves. 

* Usually a drink is served while the guests and bridal party mingle. In some cases the drink may be whisky or wine with a non alcoholic alternative. 

* The best man and bride's father toast the bride and groom with personal thoughts, stories, and well-wishes, usually humorous. The groom then follows with a response on behalf of his bride. Champagne is usually provided for the toast. 

* There is nearly always dancing following the meal. Often in Scotland this takes the form of a cÈilidh, a night of informal traditional Scottish dancing in couples and groups to live traditional music. The first dance is led by the bride and groom, followed by the rest of the bridal party and finally the guests. 

* The cake-cutting ceremony takes place; the bride and groom jointly hold a cake cutter and cut the first pieces of the wedding cake. 

* Gifts are not opened at the reception; they are either opened ahead of time and sometimes displayed at the reception, or if guests could not deliver gifts ahead of time, they are placed on a table at the reception for the bride and groom to take home with them and open later. 

* A sprig of white heather is usually worn as a buttonhole for good luck. 

* It is the norm for the groom and much of the male bridal party and guests to wear kilts, although suits are also worn. Kilts and Highland dress are often rented for this purpose [citation required]. 

Handfasting 

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic wedding ritual in which the bride's and groom's hands are tied together . hence the phrase "tying the knot". "Handfasting" is favored by practitioners of Celtic-based religions and spiritual traditions, such as Wicca and Druidism. 

Swedish Weddings

In a Swedish church wedding, the priest generally doesn't say when the couple may kiss each other, in contrast to Anglo-Saxon traditions. It is probably because the kiss doesn't traditionally belong to Swedish wedding customs, but has relatively recently been associated with marriage. 

In Swedish weddings, the bride and groom usually go down the aisle together, rather than the bride being escorted by her father. 

Filipino Weddings 

The groom usually wears the Barong Tagalog during the wedding, along with the male attendants, though nowadays the wealthy opt to don Western attire such as a tuxedo. Weddings held within the same year by two siblings, usually sisters, called Sukob are frowned upon as it is regarded as bad luck. Some hold it that the wedding rings dropping to the ground is a portent of bad luck (this is usually said to the ring bearer to ensure that the child is careful in handling the rings). Money, in the form of paper bills, is sometimes taped or pinned to the groom and bride's dress during their first dance. 

Indian Weddings 

Indian weddings continue for several days. Due to the diversity of Indian culture, the wedding style, ceremony and rituals may vary greatly from amongst various states, regions, religions and castes. While the Christians of India usually follow a more or less Western wedding ceremony, the Indian Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Sikhs follow traditions quite different from the West. It is quite common that during the traditional wedding days, there would be a tilak ceremony (where the groom is anointed on his forehead), a ceremony for adorning the bride's hand and feet with henna (called mehendi) accompanied by Ladies' Sangeet (music and dance), and many other pre-wedding ceremonies. Another important ceremony is the "Haldi" program where the bride and the groom are anointed with turmeric paste. All the close relatives make sure that they have anointed the couple with turmeric.On the day (i.e. late evening) of the wedding proper, the Bridegroom, his friends and relatives come singing and dancing to the wedding site in a procession called baraat, and then the religious rituals take place to solemnize the wedding according to the religion of the couple. While the groom may wear traditional Sherwani or dhoti or Western suit, his face is usually veiled with a mini-curtain of flowers called sehra. The bride (Hindu or Muslim) always wears red clothes, never white because white symbolizes widowhood in Indian culture. In Southern and Eastern states the bride usually wears a red Sari, but in northern and central states the preferred garment is a decorated skirt-blouse and veil called lehenga. After the solemnization of marriage, the bride departs with her husband. This is a very sad event for the bride's relatives because traditionally she is supposed to permanently "break-off" her relations with her blood relatives to join her husband's family. The wedding may be followed by a "reception" by the groom's parents at the groom's place. While gifts and money to the couple are commonly given, the traditional dowry from the bride's parents to the couple is now officially forbidden by law. 

Japanese Weddings

Japanese wedding customs fall into two categories: traditional Shinto ceremonies, and modern Western-style ceremonies. In either case, the couple must first be legally married by filing for marriage at their local government office, and the official documentation must be produced in order for the ceremony to be held. Before ever getting married there are two types of mate selection that may occur with the couple: (1) miai, or an arranged marriage and (2) ren ai, or a love match. The Japanese bride-to-be may be painted pure white from head to toe, visibly declaring her maiden status to the gods. Two choices of headgear exist. One, the watabMshi, is a white hood; the other, called the tsunokakushi, serves to hide the bride's 'horns of jealousy.' It also symbolizes the bride's intention to become a gentle and obedient wife. 

A traditional Japanese wedding ceremony 

Traditional Japanese wedding customs (shinzen shiki) involve an elaborate ceremony held at a Shinto shrine. Japanese weddings are being increasingly extravagant with all the elaborate details placed into thought. However, in some cases, younger generations choose to abandon the formal ways by having a "no host party" for a wedding. In this situation, the guests include mainly of the couple's friends who pay an attendance fee. 

In recent years, the "Western Style Wedding" (influenced by Christian weddings) has become the choice of most couples in Japan. An industry has sprung up, dedicated to providing couples with a ceremony modeled after church rituals. Japanese western style weddings are generally held in a chapel, either in a simple or elaborate ceremony, often at a dedicated wedding chapel within a hotel. 

Before the ceremony, there is a rehearsal. Often during this rehearsal, the bride's mother lowers the veil for her daughter, signifying the last act that a mother can do for her daughter, before "giving her away". The father of the bride, much like in Western ceremonies, walks the bride down the aisle to her awaiting groom. 

After the rehearsal comes the procession. The wedding celebrant will often wear a wedding cross, or cana, a cross with two interlocking wedding rings attached, which symbolize a couple's commitment to sharing a life together in the bonds of holy matrimony. The wedding celebrant gives a brief welcome and an introductory speech before announcing the bride's entrance. The procession ends with the groom bowing to the bride's father. The father bows in return. 

The service then starts. The service is given either in Japanese, English or quite often, a mix of both. It follows Protestant ceremony, relaxed and not overtly religious. Typically part of 1 Corinthians 13 is read from the Bible. After the reading, there is a prayer and a short message, explaining the sanctity of the wedding vows (seiyaku). The bride and groom share their vows and exchange rings. The chapel register is signed and the new couple is announced. This is often followed by the traditional wedding kiss. The service can conclude with another hymn and a benediction. 

Contemporary-style ceremonies 

With the two types of ceremonies, Shinto and Western, available it was bound for the two to be combined into what is called a contemporary Japanese wedding. Contemporary Japanese weddings are celebrated in many ways. On the beginning of the wedding day, the participants are to get ready at the parlor's beauty shop. The responsibility of the beauty shop is to dress the bride, the groom, and the other participants in the formal Japanese attire. Dressing the bride is an important task because the bride is to change into several outfits throughout her wedding day. Due to the complexity of the design, dressing a bride can be difficult and time consuming and for this reason the bride must be the first person to arrive two hours prior to the wedding ceremony. The bride's attire consists of an extravagant kimono, heavy make-up, a wig, and a head covering. An hour prior to the wedding ceremony, the guests and the groom should start to arrive. 

When everyone is dressed in their formal attire, the bride and the groom are to separate from each other and meet their close relatives in a waiting room. The relatives present will appear in the family photo and will also attend the religious ceremony. During this gathering, the kaizoe (assistant) will inform the participants of what will take place and what they should do during the day since they are not familiar with the ceremony. 

When all is understood, the relatives and participants are brought to the photo studio where the professional photographs are to be taken. Taking the photographs of the bride, the groom, and their relatives is considered to be the central part of the wedding day. The photographs of the couple and their family are designed to represent the couple's prospective future together. 

After the lengthy photo session, the bride, the groom, and others are brought to the Shinto shrine. Nowadays, the Shinto shrine may be conveniently located inside a hotel where all the activities will take place. A Shinto priest conducts the ceremony. In the ceremony, the bride and the groom are purified. However, the ceremony's important event occurs when the bride and the groom exchange nuptial cups of sake also known as san-san-ku-do. With the addition of Western tradition, the exchange of rings and weddings vows also take place. Those guests who did not attend the religious ceremony are able to view the ceremony on video screens located in the lobby. 

Like Western-style traditions, a reception takes place right after the wedding ceremony. The guests of the reception include family members, friends, and colleagues. Due to the wedding industry's attempt to maximize time and space, the reception will last exactly two hours. The reception does not include any random activities, but follows a strict order of events. The reception includes dramatic entrances by the bride and the groom with special effects, speeches, and other performances. 

Throughout the reception, the bride shall receive the guests' utmost attention because she changes two to three times for the dramatic entrances. With all the dramatic entrances, the groom will join the bride. For example, the first entrance includes the bride, the groom, and the nakodo couple. Nakodo means a "matchmaker" or a "go-between", which is usually referred to the husband. The nakodo couple plays such an important role that their names appear on the announcement of the wedding. The purpose of the nakodo is to symbolize a stable marriage. As the two couples appear a special effect of a cloud of white smoke will appear to surround them. Simultaneously, the hall lights are dimmed and the stage lighting will turn to the color of rose-pink; this astonishes the guests. Pictures are to be taken during the dramatic entrances of the bride and the groom. After the photographs have been taken, they will be led back to their table. 

At this point the Master of Ceremonies will congratulate the newlyweds and their family. He/she will then introduce the nakodo, who will start the opening speeches and more speeches will follow. Being that the reception is highly structured the speakers will have the idea of being formal and concise in mind. With all the speeches finished, the bride and the groom will perform the Western-style traditions, which include the following: (1) the cake cutting ceremony and (2) the newlyweds' first dance as husband and wife. 

The next part of the reception is the toast, or kanpai, which simplifies the mood of the reception where the guests can start to relax, eat, and drink. What follows the toast are the short congratulatory speeches made by relatives, friends, and colleagues. During this time, the bride has gone to change into her first costume and continues throughout the reception. However, the groom will also have a chance to change into his costume, which is the Western tuxedo. By the end of the night, both the bride and the groom have changed from their traditional Japanese attire to their Western-style attire. 

After their last change of costumes, the newlyweds will perform the candle service. Both will have a long, unlit candle, which will be lit from the table where their parents are seated. Next, the couple will walk around the room in a circle and light the candles placed on their guests' table. Once all the candles are lit, the newlyweds will return to their table where they will light what is called the Memorial Candle. 

By the time the candle service is done the two hours restriction will soon expire. The remaining few minutes includes short speeches, songs, dances, etc. As the reception ends a flower presentation ceremony will take place, which is where the newlyweds will present their parents with a gift of flowers to display appreciation for their parents raising them to the people they are today. At this point, the reception has ended with quick flashes and farewells. 

Russian Weddings

Russian wedding rites, fun and frolic, were to simple folk’s liking and enjoyment, as every tradition or sign had very interesting and important roots traced back to the old days. All the amazing traditions are a must of the holiday and impart special beauty and charm to the Russian wedding. 


We'll talk only about the traditions, which are still alive in Russian society. The bride’s dress will serve as a beginning. The dress, itself, usually was made from white fabric that is believed to be the color of joy, the symbol of purity and chastity. However, some historians are inclined to consider white color of a wedding dress mournful, as the bride went from her own family to a strange one, as if she dies for her kin. However, modern brides choose not only white wedding dresses, but also fashionable red, cream or apricot-colored ones.

Wedding shoes served the symbol of the bride’s thrift and willingness to be a good housekeeper, as she was supposed to buy the shoes from her savings.

 Another important wedding attribute is a bridal veil. Earlier the veil meant a simple thick shawl that closed the face tightly. It was forbidden to see the bride and the violation leaded to various misfortunes and even untimely death. Therefore the newlyweds touched each other only through the veil and didn’t eat or drink anything during the wedding. The bridal veil also served the protection from evil spirits and the devil. Sad wedding songs drove the girl to tears, even if she married her beloved one. The reason was simple – she was leaving her home and giving herself at the husband’s disposal.

 The bride should be constantly surrounded with bridesmaids, single girls, who had to accompany her to the church. Their principal task was to distract evil spirits, so they wore dresses similar to the bridal one.But what is the wedding without wedding pie? Bread at all times has been the symbol of abundance, rich life and luck (earlier was baked a huge wedding pie - kournik) and that’s why a just married couple is met at home with “salt and bread”.

 The kiss of the bride and groom deserves special attention. In old times there was a legend that during the kiss the souls of two loving people are brought together. And the ancestors, appreciating spirituality and chastity of young people, considered the kiss in public as the bond.

 At the end of the wedding party the bride turns back to guests and throws the wedding bouquet to young women who try to catch it as it means near marriage.