Wedding traditions around the world: how different cultures celebrate?

When you work with destination weddings, it is important to be familiar with different wedding traditions around the world - you never know where your clients might be coming from. To celebrate all of these different cultures, Belief Wedding Creators even created the category “Cultural Weddings” for Belief Awards.

So, let’s take a tour around the world to check out some awesome wedding traditions:


Aztec Weddings

Can you imagine how does an Aztec ceremony looks like? The wedding planner Paula Abreu had to find all about it in order to organize this wedding that won the 9th edition of Belief Awards. Aztec wedding ceremonies take place at night, with a torchlit procession which that escorted the bride to the groom's house.


Brazilian Weddings


In Brazil, the wedding reception is really important for a wedding. And many traditions are linked to the party: couples give to their female guests Havaianas (flip flops) in order to make them rest their feet, the tears of joy tissue, Samba School at the party and a beautiful table with traditional Brazilian sweets, like brigadeiro.

A very common favor in Brazil is a sweet called “bem casado” (in English it would be something like “well married”), which is a small cake that is believed to bring luck to the newlyweds.

Another tradition is a “Santo Antonio” Bouquet. In Brazil, “Santo Antonio” is known as the saint of love and a matchmaker. The bride might throw it after the flower bouquet.


Greek Weddings

Greek weddings are known for their many traditions – as seen on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.  According to Anna Laudanska, Greece is an orthodox country so for orthodox weddings, there is a whole procedure imposed by the church. “For the reception in Crete, there is pilafi (special rice made on the broth from boiled meat: usually lamb & chicken) served with natural yogurt and boiled meat on the side. They also give ‘koufeta’ sweet almonds loose or nicely packed. In Crete, they also offer sweets called ‘xerotigana’. Many traditions, especially with food, can be easily implemented during civil weddings or destination weddings”, explains Anna Laudanska.

Olympia Giannopoulou also mentions a curious wedding tradition: “Thursday before the wedding, people lay the bed and throw money and rose petals on it. On the altar table, there is a tray all the time with sugar almonds and rose petals”, remembers Olympia Giannopoulou.


Mayan Weddings in Guatemala 

Mayan Ceremonies are very special and very popular among destination weddings in Guatemala. “Depending on the Shaman, the ceremony will always involve fire, sometimes candles, rose petals and incense. It’s a very intimate ceremony that lasts about 1 hour or an hour and a half. It’s something to remember and it can always be incorporated into any other kind of symbolic ceremony”, explains Pilu Delgado.

Another good idea for couples who are getting married in Guatemala is to have some gift bags on their weddings with beautiful Guatemalan things.


Hawaiian Weddings 

Although Hawaii is not a country, it is really well versed on customs and traditions from all walks of life. According to the wedding planner Carolee Higashino, Hawaii is considered the ‘melting pot’ of the world – all cultures are represented there – they might mix Chinese customs with a typical Japanese ceremony, with a touch of Filipino traditions.

“The Chinese celebration would incorporate the honorary tea celebration to elders,  a typical Japanese ceremony might include 1000 cranes, a Phillipino tradition would be the exchange of coins and a cord and veil ceremony and so on”, explains Carolee Higashino.


Indian Weddings

Throughout all the editions of Belief Awards, we’ve had a few winners from India. One of the winning weddings, organized by Chandni Patel and Sagar Shah, had traditional gujarati hindu rituals. The groom entered the venue on an elephant with his entourage of family members and friends singing, dancing, and celebrating the commencement of the wedding. He was also greeted at the threshold of the entrance by the bride's mother, who welcomed him with an aarti to ward off the evil eye and blessed him. She also playfully pinched his nose to remind him that he has come to the doorstep to ask for her daughter’s hand in marriage. This is a traditional Gujarati custom to highlight the fact that the bride leaves her parent’s house with a lot of sacrifices behind, and the groom should be humble and understanding of that before agreeing to the marriage. 

Another tradition is the  Mangalshtak, an ancient shlok, verse written to evoke the Gods, Goddesses and planets in the universe to bless the couple. TTowards the end of the ceremony, the couple walks around the sacred fire four times that represent a promise and vows they take.

The wedding planner Kirti Samant won one of the editions of the Belief Awards with a photo of a special ritual: Mangal Snanam, which consists of a ritual of a holy bath conducted as part of the pre-wedding ceremony.


Irish Weddings

Irish weddings go way beyond using a kilt.Irish Uilleann Pipes might be used during the ceremony. Ringing a bell is also a ritual on Irish weddings, as they are thought to ward off evil spirits. Irish brides also might carry  a white Irish linen handkerchief as a  lucky talisman.


Italian Weddings

If you think about Italy and the first thing that comes into your mind is food, well, you might be right (but it surely goes way beyond that). One of the main traditions of  Italian weddings is giving your guests a small gift known as “bomboniera” (favor), which consists of five sugar-coated almonds symbolizing: family life, as well as health, happiness, prosperity, fertility, and a long life together.

But Italians also have a sexy tradition – “on her wedding day, the bride is expected to wear a garter. After the ceremony, the groom removes the garter and throws it to male single guests. Whoever catches the garter will have good luck”, explains the wedding planner Danila Minetto.

Italy can also be a place for romance. There, traditionally, it is the groom’s job to supply the bridal bouquet. “This is considered to be his final gift to his girlfriend before she becomes his wife.  In some Northern regions, the groom must wait with the bouquet outside the church for his bride to arrive and hand it to her before the beginning of the ceremony”, states Danila Minetto.


Jewish Weddings

Jewish weddings have specific traditions such as:

  • Aufruf: before the wedding, the couple is called to the Torah for a blessing called an aliyah. After that, they also have a blessing called misheberach. Members of the congregation might throw candies at the couple to wish them a sweet life.
  • Jewish weddings are not celebrated on Shabbat or the High Holy Days.
  • Ketubah: the couple signs a document that outlines the groom's responsibilities to his bride.
  • Chuppah: this is where the couples exchange vows. It has four corners and a covered roof to symbolize the new home they are building. While walking towards it, both the groom and the bride do it accompanied by their both parents. 
  • Circling: the bride circles around her groom during the ceremony. Some believe it is for protection and others just say that it symbolizes the new family circle.
  • Seven blessings: family and friends perform readings during the ceremony.
  • Breaking of the glass: when the ceremony ends, the bride/groom must step on a glass inside a cloth bag to shatter it. When they finally do it, guests celebrate it by saying “Mazel Tov”, which means "good luck" or "congratulations”.
  • Hora: it is when the guests dance in a circle and the bride and groom are seated on chairs and lifted into the air.


Mayan weddings in Belize

According to the wedding planner Rachel Roe, who won the 10th edition of Belief Awards with a Mayan wedding in Belize, the country is very unique, as the Mayan culture is still very alive and thriving. At the awarded wedding, the couple had a traditional Maya Shaman officiate their wedding. The ceremony started with the blowing of a conch shell, and the couple was invited to the sacred space. They used the directional elements, as well as traditional burning of copal incense and ancient Mayan blessings. For dinner, two traditional Maya women made tortillas live on their families traditional fire heart. Mayan food consisting of roasted pig and pibil (a shredded pork) was served.


Mexican Weddings

Since Mexico is such a big country, every region has different traditions. The Mariachi time is one of the most famous – they can play from romantic bohemian songs to other upbeat ones like the Mariachi Loco.

Another tradition is the midnight snack in which Mexicans normally serve chilaquiles or tacos to the guests to diminish the effects of alcohol before leaving the party.

The Mexican traditions can also be included on the guests’ souvenirs like tequila or Mezcal bars.

For the couples who want to marry in the Catholic church, they have “Las Arras” (the coins), which are given to the bride by the groom to show that he will take care of her. There is also the laso, a symbol of a union that will not be broken. In San Miguel Allende, most weddings end with a wedding parade, where the bride and groom are in the

In San Miguel Allende, according to Guadalupe Alvarez, most weddings end up with a wedding parade, where the bride and groom are in the front and are accompanied with a Tequila Burro (Tequila Donkey ) and of course tequila!! “There are also the Mojigangas (the big puppets ) that dance with the guests, a mariachi band and of course all of their guests – it is such an amazing celebration, people come out of their houses to congratulate them”, explains Guadalupe Alvarez.


Norwegian Weddings

The weather in Norway might not be the best in the world, but they surely have some amusing traditions for weddings. Some of them even include the toilets. “When the bride goes to the toilet – a single man goes up to the bride and kisses her on the cheek. When the groom goes to the toilet – single ladies go up to the bride and kiss her on the cheek”, explains the wedding planner Thomas B. Dahlberg.

According to Thomas B. Dahlberg, at some other traditions, the guests tell the couples what to do: “When the guests tap the glass with cutlery to make a ‘klirring’ noise, the couple has to get up on their chairs and kiss. When the guests ‘clap’ the table with cutlery or hands, the parents of the couple get on their chairs and kiss. When all the guests stomp their feet, the couple should go under the table and kiss”.

Pretty curious, huh?


Panamanian Weddings 

If you are looking for lots of fun, Panama is the right place for it. The wedding planner Leticia McRae explains that there is one tradition called  ‘La Hora Loca’ (The Crazy Hour). “Just after midnight, the celebration breaks out with a ‘Murga’ (orchestra with festive tunes of the Panamanian carnival). It is usually preceded by the bride and groom. They distribute accessories such as masks, colorful hats and necklaces to the guests and for about an hour the whole celebration becomes a carnival. It is very fun”, explains Leticia McRae.

Weddings in Panama are also known by its energy. “I always tell my clients that in Panamanian weddings people eat, drink, dance and have absolute fun at the same time from sundown to sunrise the next day!! This is a true fact”, says Judy Amado.


Puerto Rican Weddings

In Puerto Rico, many wedding traditions are connected with the Catholic church and Christianity. According to the wedding planner Dora Thillet, for the Catholic ceremony, they also have the Arras. “13 coins representing Christ and the 12 disciples.  They are used to represent your blessings.  The groom places the coins in the bride’s hands and makes a vow to share his blessings with her.  Then, she does the same”, explains Dora Thillet.

For the Christian Ceremony, a Bible is also given to the couple which is meant to be the copy the family will share and abide by.

The tradition to wear “something new, something borrowed, something old and something blue” is also very popular in Puerto Rico.


Persian Weddings

Persian ceremonies are usually full of symbolic items, which is called “Sofreh Aghd”. This might include the Quran, colored seeds (to ward off evil spirits), nuts & eggs for fertility, gold coins for wealth, pastries for a sweet life, bread for prosperity, fruit for the divine creation of mankind and rose water to perfume the air.

During the ceremony, the bride and groom dip their pinky fingers in a cup of honey placed in their Sofreh and put it in each others’ mouth. “This gesture symbolizes the start of their marriage with sweetness and love”, explains the wedding planner Jeanette Skelton.


Thai Weddings

For the ones who wish to get married in Thailand, there is the possibility to add some traditions like Thai Buddhist Blessing, Khan Maak Procession, The Thread Ceremony & Water Pouring.

The water blessing consists of pouring water into the couple’s hand and it is one of the most important parts of the Thai wedding ceremony. During this part, the couple officially becomes husband and wife.

In Thailand, many Western couples choose to have a Buddhist wedding ceremony when they get married. However,  it is important to note that although monks may be present during part of the wedding day, a Thai wedding is essentially a non-religious affair. If monks are invited to attend the ceremony it will be to bless the couple and enable them to make merit. Thai Buddhists believe that donating a merit gift ( to the local wat (temple) will ensure a lifetime of love for the marriage. In some instances, the couple may go to the temple rather than have the monks visit them, but donations and food will still be offered to the monks.

In another tradition from the Thai ceremony, the bride and groom will exchange flower garlands in addition to rings, which symbolizes eternal love, the fragility, and beauty of life.


Yoruba Weddings

Weddings in Yoruba culture bring a lot of folklore, color, and pageantry. One of the winners of the 11th edition of Belief Awards honored this culture. The couple and their guests had the Nigerian-Yoruba cultural wedding outfits. Men in Agbada and Fila, while the the

ladies were Aso Ebi and Gele (Similar Fabrics & Head ties). Also, the eldest member of the family welcomes the bride into the family and gives her a gift. According to Adeola Fowody, lots of dancing is also synonymous to Nigerian weddings.


What about your country? What are the main traditions for weddings in your area?




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