CUSTOMS FROM COUNTRIES AROUND
Africa - Though many women might not consider the sentiment well-wishing, the common greeting to a new bride among some tribes is "May thou bear twelve children with him." Some African ceremonies include binding of the couples wrists with plaited glass.
Belgium - The bride takes a handkerchief with her name embroided on it with her to the wedding. After the ceremony, it is framed and displayed in the family house until another daughter gets married; then she carries it and adds her name.
Bermuda - The new husband and wife plant a tree to symbolize their love and union.
Czechoslovakia - The bride wears a wreath made of rosemary to symbolize love, loyalty, and wisdom.
China - In the Chinese wedding ceremony, a goblet of honey and a goblet of wine are tied together with a red ribbon. Red is the color of love; the ribbon stands for unity. The bride and groom take a drink to symbolize a union of love. After a wedding dinner that might feature such delicacies as a bear nose, the guests receive fortune cookies for good luck. The symbol that permeates throughout the Chinese wedding is "Shuang Xi" (Double Happiness).
Egypt - For the rowdiest wedding procession youre likely to see, head to Egypt. Belly dancers, men brandishing swords, and people blowing loud horns all accompany the wedding party and guests as the troop from the ceremony to the reception. In an interesting twist, the guests wear traditional Egyptian clothing, but the bride dresses in a western-style gown.
England - In the English countryside, the bride and her attendants walk to the church on a floor strewn with flower petals, meant to guarantee a smooth and joyous path through life. As the couple enter the church, the bells chime; when they exit as husband and wife, they chime again, only to a different tune. (Bells were once believed to ward off evil spirits.)
Finland - In days gone by, the bride-to-be was crowned with gold during the ceremony. Afterward she was blindfolded and surrounded by all of the unmarried female guests. The bride groped around blindly until she picked someone to pass the crown to. The one the bride crowned was believed to be the next to wed.
France - Couples drink a toast for a "coupe de marriage," a two-handled silver cup. The cup is passed down through the family to future couples. For a refreshing change, the guests bring the flowers to the reception, to help the couple celebrate life and their new beginning.
Germany - Both the bride and the groom wear gold bands as a symbol of their engagement. A custom not too many American women are likely to be fond of, however, is the one that encourages the groom to kneel on the hem of the brides dress during the ceremony, as a sign that he is now her boss. The bride sets him straight by getting up and stepping on his foot.
Greece - During the ceremony, the bride and groom wear crowns made from flowers, signifying their entrance into marriage. The couple will take three sips of wine and walk around the altar three times with the priest, which symbolizes the Trinity. The grooms godfather (or another honored male family member, known as koumbaros) has an important part in the ceremony; he is the one who crowns the couple.
Holland - An awning or canopy of sorts made of evergreen is set up for the couple; they sit under it on thrones during a prewedding party given by the families. The evergreens are meant to symbolize everlasting love. As the couple "holds court," the party guests approach then to wish them luck and happiness.
India - The families of both the bride and groom prepare puffed rice for the ceremony as a symbol of fertility and good luck. The grooms brother douses the new man and wife with flower petals at the ceremonys end. Henna dye is used to paint designs on the couples hands; the couple usually leave their hand prints on the outside door of their new home for good luck.
Ireland - Many Irish believe there is a lucky day for weddings, one that comes but once a year: New Years Day. For additional good luck, a swatch of Irish lace may be sewn into the brides gown; the couple also receive a horseshoe to put in their new home.
Although they are now popular in America simply as friendship rings, Claddagh rings remain the standard Irish wedding ring. The heart, crown, and hands found on the Claddagh symbolize love, loyalty, and friendship.
Italy - The lucky villagers are recipients of cakes and other baked goodies passed out by the bride and groom as they wind their way through the streets. For the departing couple, their are no clanging cans on the back of the car; instead, the front grill is decorated with flowers to symbolize the road to a happy marriage.
Japan - Part of the Japanese wedding ceremony requires both the bride and groom to take nine sips of sake. They may be a little tipsy after the nine sips, but they are considered married after the first. During the ceremony, the bride will leave to change clothes three to four times. As usual, the groom has it easy, wearing only one black kimono. Guests at a Japanese wedding are very lucky not only are they fed and entertained, but the wedding favors they receive from the couples families sometimes equal up to half the value of the gifts given to the couple.
The Jewish Tradition - Many Jewish couples have a ketubbah, a contract made up of vows. The contract is enhanced with holy scriptures and an elaborate border symbolizing the home. In Orthodox Jewish tradition, the bride is given a ritual bath, called mikvah. Sometimes this bath is made up of rain water.
Lithuania - The parents of the bride and groom give them gifts that stand for the elements of marriage; wine for joy, salt for tears, and bread for work.
Mexico - The couple is joined by a white silk cord wrapped around their shoulders to signify their union in marriage. In some ceremonies, the silk cord is replaced by a large string of rosary beads, wrapped around the couple in the form of a figure eight. After the ceremony, the couple dances in a heart-shaped circle formed by the guests.
Philippines - Here, they also use the white silk cord. Unlike in the United States, the grooms family pays for the wedding; they also give the bride old coins that stand for prosperity. In return, the brides family gives the new couple a cash dowry.
Poland - For the privilege of dancing with the bride, guests put money into the pockets of an apron she wears over her wedding dress. The money collected from this "dollar dance" is supposed to go toward paying for the honeymoon.
Romania - If you have a feeling you may be a hungry bride, Romania is the place to marry; there, guests shower the newlyweds with nuts and candy, meant to symbolize prosperity.
Russia - Oh, to be a guest here. Rather than bring a gift to the wedding, all non-family member guests receive a gift.
Spain - The bride embroiders a shirt for the groom, which he wears on their wedding day; she herself wears orange blossoms and a mantilla. In an unusual turn, the bride and groom wear their wedding bands on their right hands.
Sweden - The couple is sure to smell very nice here. The bride carries a bouquet of herbs in hope that the fragrance will ward off trolls; the grooms attire comes complete with some thyme sewn in. In an era of pumps and high-heels, one Swedish tradition is no longer popular, but in the old days, the bride would keep her shoes untied for the entire wedding day. If, in the course of her nights sleep, the shoes should slip off, it was a sign that she would bear children easily.
Switzerland - Junior bridesmaids begin the wedding procession by throwing colored handkerchiefs to the guests. Those who catch a hanky are supposed to give money to help the couple start out.
United States - In the early days of the country, guests did not give appliances or money to the couple but they did provide the newlyweds with some stamina-giving sack posset, a drink consisting of hot spiced milk and ale or wine. Before the Civil War, African-American brides believed that the best days to get married were Tuesdays and Wednesdays, because that would ensure a long and happy life with ones husband.
Wales - The brides attendants receive a gift of myrtle from the bride; the flowers blooming is said to predict another wedding.
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