Wedding Customs To Inspire Your Destination Wedding
Choosing to have a destination wedding is incredibly exciting and special, and the destination will hold lifelong meaning to the couple. Incorporating traditions and cultural elements of your chosen destination is a lovely way of respecting the culture and adding an authentic feel to your wedding. While many of these marriage customs and wedding traditions have been practiced and passed down from centuries ago, this doesn’t mean they can’t be adapted to suit your own faith, culture, and personalities.
GREEK WEDDING TRADITIONS
When picturing a traditional Greek wedding, the image of smashing plates is usually the first thing that comes to mind, but that’s just one of the many customs practiced.
One marriage custom that’s still commonly practiced (and a beautiful, practical addition to a destination wedding), is the Stefana crowning. This custom involves placing a delicate, white crown on top of the bride and groom’s head. The ‘Koumbaros’ (best man) will intertwine the crowns three times and also exchange the rings between the couple three times. A beautiful reminder that in marriage, the weaknesses of one are compensated by the strengths of the other and vice versa.
JAPANESE WEDDING TRADITIONS
If you and your partner enjoy the idea of a unique alternative to saying vows, you might just fall in love with this Japanese tradition. ‘San San Ku Do’ involves the bride and groom drinking sake – three times each from three different cups.
The parents of the couple then take sips, representing sealing the bond between the two families. Each person takes three sips of each of the cups- with all of the sips having a particular meaning. The term ‘San San Ku Do’ means three, three, and nine (a lucky number in Japanese culture), and the “do” is the part that means the deliverance from the flaws.
INDIAN Wedding Traditions
An Indian wedding is always incredibly festive, bright, and full of rituals and customs. With the majority of the Indian population being Hindu, weddings include rituals that pay respect to their many deities, with a particular focus on the fire-deity, Agni.
Agni is the primary witness of a Hindu wedding, so the custom of lighting this sacred fire is central to the ceremony. The couple will take seven steps around the fire as they recite the Hindu pledge of marriage. Wouldn’t that make for some spectacular photographs? A more modern adaptation to this ritual could include your own pledge of marriage.
TURKISH WEDDING TRADITIONS
In recent years, we’ve seen a growing trend of couples writing short messages on the soles of each other’s wedding shoes. Who would have guessed that this actually stems from a Turkish tradition?
For hundreds of years, instead of throwing the bouquet, the bride’s unmarried friends write their names on the soles of the bride’s shoes. By the end of the evening, the bride removes her shoes and identifies which name has been rubbed off the most – and her name is announced as the next to be wed! We love how this tradition could be included in any destination wedding.
ITALIAN WEDDING TRADITIONS
One of our favorite Italian wedding customs takes place a night before the wedding (although we often suggest adapting this slightly to take place 2-3 nights before the wedding day). The groom will throw a surprise party outside the window of the bride-to-be which begins with “La Serenata”. Backed by his groomsmen acting as musicians, the groom will serenade his fiancé and kick-off the nights’ festivities which typically include a lavish buffet with all the couple’s family and friends.
What we love about this tradition, is the opportunity for friends and family to become re-acquainted with each other in a relaxed and fun setting before the day of the wedding.
FRENCH WEDDING TRADITIONS
Le Cortège (wedding procession) is a significant part of every traditional French wedding. Just as the father of the bride traditionally escorts his daughter down the aisle, a French wedding will involve the groom walking with his mother down the aisle. This particular tradition has brought about many a tear amongst guests of destination weddings in France that we’ve had the privilege of planning.
Another French wedding tradition that we love, is their alternative wedding cake – the croquembouche! Why not consider having this decadent pyramid of Choux pastry profiteroles filled with vanilla cream?
CROATIAN WEDDING TRADITIONS
“Life shouldn’t just be filled with days; days should be filled with life!” We love this quote, and it’s a quote used frequently when speaking about Croatia, as this is a country has a zest for life and a passion for celebrating.
No Croatian wedding is complete without the appearance of the traditional band ‘tamburaši’, meaning ‘tamburitza players’ in English. This band of 4-5 musicians will bring along guitars and traditional tamburitzas to liven up the festivities throughout the wedding day. The festivities typically include sipping on the local Croatian brew known as ‘Rajika’ (be warned, this can be a dangerous indulgence).
SPANISH WEDDING TRADITIONS
It comes as no surprise that the orange blossom is the traditional Spanish wedding flower, symbolizing happiness and fulfillment, but also just an incredibly stunning addition to a destination wedding!
Another Spanish tradition that other cultures started adopting too, is the gifting of thirteen gold coins from the groom to the bride, representing Jesus and his twelve apostles. The meaning of the coins often varies, making this tradition a great idea to incorporate in a destination wedding with a unique symbolism assigned to the coins that reflect the values of the bridal couple.
AFRICAN WEDDING TRADITIONS
An African wedding typically involves countless traditions, constant singing and dancing, and days of family gatherings and celebrations. While many of the traditions are quite frankly bizarre, there are a few beautiful customs that add an authentic and humbling addition to a destination wedding in Africa.
One of our favorites being the tasting of four elements which represent the emotions of a relationship: sour (lemon), bitter (vinegar), hot (cayenne), and sweet (honey). What this custom symbolizes, is that to enjoy the sweetness of the marriage, the couple will need to endure the challenging times.
FIJIAN WEDDING TRADITIONS
The ‘Tabua’ is a polished tooth of a sperm whale and due to their rarity, they’ve carried immense value and symbolism throughout Fijian culture. At the time of a wedding, the groom’s family typically source the most perfect Tabua to present to the family of the bride as a symbol of respect, wealth, and to provide assurance that the bride will be well taken care of by her new family.
A destination wedding in Fiji could easily integrate this tradition, and beyond that, we love the idea of families giving each other gifts!