Weddings celebrate love and commitment, but the customs and traditions associated with them vary widely across cultures. 

The wedding traditions throughout the world are as diverse as the people who practice them, from the vivid colors and elaborate henna decorations of Indian weddings to the symbolic sips in Japan’s “san-san-kudo” ritual and the amusing “blackening of the bride” tradition in Scotland. The immense diversity of rituals that signify love and devotion may be seen in the playful foot-beating in rural China, the “lazo” lasso in Mexico, the “money spray” at Yoruba weddings in Nigeria, Native American “blanket ceremonies,” and the Maasai “adumu” dance in Africa. 

These customs are a reminder of the beauty in accepting and appreciating various expressions of love and togetherness while honoring the principles and heritage of each culture during this global festival of love.

Traditional Wedding Rituals in Different Countries

Every country has its unique wedding traditions, which each represent the distinct cultures and history of that country. These many customs demonstrate the richness of love and commitment celebrations across the world.


Hindu wedding ceremonies in India are known for their grandeur and elaborate symbolism. They frequently entail elaborate ceremonies, such as the exchange of flower garlands between the bride and groom, the painting of the bride’s hands and feet with henna, and the lighting of the holy fire (Agni), which represents the couple’s fidelity to one another.


In Japan, Shinto wedding rituals are deeply rooted in spirituality and tradition. The “san-san-kudo” ceremony is a central element, where the bride and groom take three sips from three different cups of sake, representing heaven, earth, and humanity. This act symbolizes the unity of the couple and their families.


Mexico boasts the “lasso ceremony,” where a decorative lasso or rosary is placed around the couple’s shoulders in the shape of a figure-eight. This symbolizes the couple’s eternal unity and connection. Guests participate by draping the lasso over the couple’s shoulders, forming a circle of love and support.


In Scotland, a rather unique tradition called the “blackening of the bride and groom” takes place before the wedding day. Friends and family often playfully cover the couple in various messy substances like treacle, feathers, or molasses, signifying the challenges and tests that the couple will face together.


In Kenya, among the Maasai people, the wedding ceremony includes a unique spitting ritual. During the ceremony, the father of the bride blesses the couple by spitting on their heads and breasts. This is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the newlyweds.

Symbolism and Significance

Each of these wedding customs provides a rich cultural and symbolic meaning that strengthens family relationships and cultural identity in the relevant societies.


In traditional Hindu weddings, the exchange of floral garlands signifies mutual acceptance of the bride and groom. It symbolizes their willingness to marry each other and the unity of the two families. The intricate henna designs on the bride’s hands and feet are decorative and also symbolize the deep love and prosperity in her married life. The sacred fire (Agni) is central to the ceremony, representing purity and the witness to the vows exchanged. These customs reinforce the importance of family in Indian culture, as weddings are not just a union of two individuals but also of their families.


In Japan, Shinto wedding rituals hold spiritual significance. The “san-san-kudo” ceremony with its three sips of sake represents the couple’s journey through life’s ups and downs together. Heaven, earth, and humanity are invoked to bless their union. These rituals emphasize the importance of harmony, respect for tradition, and the spiritual connection between the couple and their ancestors, reinforcing the Japanese cultural identity rooted in centuries of tradition.


The Mexican “lasso ceremony” is a powerful symbol of unity. The figure-eight shape of the lasso signifies eternity and the couple’s unbreakable bond. As guests participate by draping the lasso over the couple, it symbolizes the community’s support for their marriage. This tradition reinforces the strong family ties and communal bonds that are integral to Mexican culture.


In Scotland, the “blackening of the bride and groom” may seem unconventional, but it serves to test the couple’s sense of humor and resilience. It symbolizes their ability to face challenges and hardships together, emphasizing the importance of humor in Scottish culture and the idea that laughter can overcome difficulties. It also fosters a sense of camaraderie among family and friends involved in the playful ritual.

Among the Maasai people of Kenya, the spitting ritual is a powerful protective gesture. The father’s spit is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring blessings to the couple. It reflects the close-knit Maasai community, where family and tribe are central to one’s identity and protection.


By incorporating symbolic and cultural meanings, these customs strengthen family ties and cultural identity. In addition to emphasizing the love between partners, they also highlight how the larger community and ancestors supported and protected the union, helping to preserve and uphold traditional values and traditions.

Unusual and Surprising Customs

Aside from these customs, there are also wedding traditions that are surprising and unusual, revealing intriguing stories and origins. While some may seem strange or amusing, they often carry deep symbolic meanings or historical significance, adding unique layers of tradition and storytelling to weddings around the world.

Here are a few lesser-known customs that stand out:

South Korea

In South Korea, it’s a quirky tradition for the groom’s friends to remove his shoes and tie his feet together before the wedding ceremony. They then take turns beating the soles of his feet with a fish or a cane. This playful act is believed to test the groom’s strength, sense of humor, and ability to endure hardship, preparing him for married life.


In Russia, the bride and groom are traditionally greeted with bread and salt at the entrance of the wedding venue. The bread symbolizes prosperity and the salt represents the inevitable challenges of life. By tasting the bread and salt, the couple shows their willingness to share both the sweetness and bitterness of life.


Greek weddings are known for the enthusiastic breaking of plates. This custom dates back to ancient times when loud noises were believed to drive away evil spirits. It’s a lively and joyous part of the celebration, with guests enthusiastically smashing plates on the dance floor to bring good luck to the newlyweds.


Before the wedding, the future bride in Mauritania goes through a period known as “gavage” during which she is purposefully overfed by female relatives. This is done to symbolize her family’s wealth and ability to provide for her. While the tradition has faced criticism for promoting unhealthy body ideals, it persists in some communities.


In Sweden, all female guests are invited to kiss the groom whenever the bride leaves the room during the reception. Similarly, the male guests kiss the bride when the groom steps away. This playful tradition adds an element of fun to the festivities and ensures the bride and groom are greeted with warm affection.


In some regions of Poland, it’s customary for the groom and his groomsmen to “kidnap” the bride just before the wedding ceremony. The bridesmaids then set challenges or riddles for the groom to solve to win back his bride. It’s all in good fun and symbolizes the groom’s commitment and determination.


Cultural diversity is one of the things that makes each wedding celebration unique and unforgettable. As we’ve explored these amazing customs from around the globe, it’s clear that the beauty of love knows no borders. Instead, love thrives within the intricate weave of diverse human civilizations, where each tradition tells a unique story of history, symbolism, and coming together.


Preserving and respecting these cultural treasures is a way to honor the past and enrich our collective understanding of the present. Every tradition, no matter how unusual or surprising it may seem, carries with it the history and values of a community. It’s a testament to the resilience of these customs that continue to thrive in a rapidly changing world. As we celebrate love in all its forms, let us remember to cherish and respect the diverse traditions that make each wedding a reflection of the world’s cultural mosaic, including the legal aspects like obtaining a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

Websites like Courtly offer a deeper dive into the fascinating world of cultural customs and rituals. Whether you’re planning your wedding or just curious about the world’s traditions, there’s a wealth of knowledge waiting for you to explore. After all, love, like culture, knows no boundaries, and the more we learn about it, the more we appreciate the extraordinary diversity that makes our world so beautifully interconnected.