How Much Do You Know About Wedding Traditions Around the World?

By: Abi Luftig
Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Or maybe you need a horseshoe! When it comes to wedding traditions around the world, some are the same, but others are completely different! How much do you know about wedding traditions from around the world? 

When it comes to wedding traditions across the globe, there are a lot of differences! While it's taboo for anyone other than the bride to wear white in an American wedding, you'll find many UK bridesmaids adorned in the color. Around the world, you'll find guests throwing rice or confetti at the new couple, but in one country, you'll see the groom shooting arrows at his bride!

With all these wedding traditions, how many of them do you know? In the Indian culture, what kind of plant is used for the temporary tattoo adorned on the bride's body? How many bouquets would you expect to see a Mexican bride holding? What food are Russian newlyweds using to decide on the head of household? 

All over the world, you'll find new couples ready to say "I do" to each other. While the sentiments are the same, the traditions surely aren't! From whacking the bottom of the groom's feet to sawing a log in half, how many of these weddings traditions do you know?

Are you saying "I do" to this quiz or are you getting cold feet? Let's find out!

Indian brides are adorned with Mehndi, designs painted on with a paste made from what plant?

Indian (and some Pakistani) brides get Mehndi a few days before their weddings, often alongside their closest friends (whose designs are far less intricate than those of the bride). Mehndi is made from henna and turmeric, dries within a few hours, and lasts for approximately two weeks.

Australian weddings often feature a unity bowl, which is filled with what?

Upon arriving at the wedding, guests are given decorative stones to hold in their hands during the ceremony. As they leave the wedding, the guests place their stones in the unity bowl, which is then presented to the bride and groom. The newlyweds keep the bowl (and stones) in their home to remind them of the support of their loved ones.

Greek brides are known to tuck what item into their gloves before their wedding?

Greek brides often slip a sugar cube into their glove as a way to ensure she has a sweet life or to sweeten her marriage. Another Greek tradition is to carry ivy, which represents endless love.

In Fiji, it's extra tricky to ask your beloved's father for her hand in marriage, because you must present him with a tooth from what animal?

Most people think that whales have no teeth, only baleen bristles, but that's not actually true. Most species of whale have teeth, including the sperm whale. The teeth of a sperm whale are extremely important in Fijian society and are used to show respect and honor.

In Mauritius, which is the preferred body type for brides?

Western brides are known to spend months on diets in order to fit into their perfect gown and be as skinny as possible. However, on the African island of Mauritius, the heavier, the better. Weight is seen as a sign of prosperity and a heavy bride is seen as having a well-off husband who can provide for her.

In which country, known for its ancient archers, does the groom shoot arrows at his bride?

Yes, you read that right, Chinese grooms shoot three arrows at their brides. But don't worry, the arrows have no arrowheads and are quite harmless. After the arrows are launched, the groom will snap them in half to show the strength of their eternal love.

The happy couple might not appear to be such in the Republic of Congo, because what are they forbidden to do during their wedding?

Yes, the happy couple might not appear to look so happy, because Congolese tradition states that both bride and groom are not allowed to smile for the entire wedding, even the reception. If they are seen to look too happy, they are thought to not be taking marriage seriously.

Ouch! Korean tradition states that the night before the wedding, a groom must have which part of his body beaten?

Yep, strange and painful as it may sound, Korean grooms spend the night before their wedding having their groomsmen hit the bottoms of their feet with canes and fish. It is meant to show his strength and true character, but that reasoning can sounds kinda fishy to some.

How many white doves do Filipino newlyweds release into the air?

Releasing doves after weddings is not a strictly Filipino tradition, but it is more common there than in other parts of the world. The bride and groom each release a dove (one male, one female) to symbolize their harmonious and peaceful life together.

Bottoms up: French couples have a tradition of drinking the leftover champagne from what unusual container?

Disgusting as it sounds, there is a French tradition that the bridal couple must drink the leftover champagne and eat the leftover chocolates from their reception out of a toilet, in order to give them strength as a couple. The good news is that couples are allowed to get a small replica toilet that is custom made and has never been used, specifically for this purpose. The even better news is that modern French couples have started to reject the bridal bidet.

The inhabitants of which island nation often line the streets to watch the bride walk to her wedding and offer commentary (and occasionally heckle) on her appearance?

Entire villages line the streets to watch a Jamaican bride walk to her wedding and comment on her appearance. If they think the look just isn't working, they can (and often do) shout out criticisms. If the majority of the feedback is negative, she heads back home and redoes her look before trying again.

According to Korean tradition, grooms are supposed to give what animal to their future mother-in-law?

Wild geese and ducks are known for being monogamous, and this is why it is traditional for Korean grooms to present a wild goose or duck to his mother-in-law- to show his loyalty to her daughter. In modern times, the tradition has evolved and the bride and groom exchange wooden or porcelain fowl to show their commitment to each other.

Swedish brides are known to carry a silver coin and a gold coin. Where does she keep them?

A Swedish bride is traditionally given two coins on her wedding day as gifts from her parents. Her father gives her a silver coin, which goes in one shoe, and her mother gives her a gold coin, which goes in the other. The coins make sure the bride will never be without riches and means.

A Norwegian bride wears what type of special headdress?

Throughout Scandinavia, but most common in Norway, brides wear gold and silver crowns with charms and dangling crystals attached. When she moves her head, the charms make a tinkling sound that wards off evil spirits. Modern bridal crowns have gotten considerably smaller and often attach to a veil.

In traditional South African weddings, the parents of the bride and groom each bring what element to give to the newlyweds?

In a grander version of the unity candle, South African parents each light a fire in their home fireplace and then use it light a torch that they give to their child on their wedding day. The newlyweds then use the torches lit from their childhood homes to light the fireplace in their new home together.

In Sweden, is it acceptable for a woman who is not the bride to kiss the groom?

Strange as it sounds, yes, women are allowed to kiss the groom at a wedding, but only when the bride leaves the room. In the interest of fairness and gender equality, whenever the groom leaves the room, the men in attendance are allowed to kiss the bride. Swedish couples are either very trusting or never need bathroom breaks!

Borneo newlyweds are prevented from doing what after their wedding?

The Tidong population of Borneo has a tradition that forbids them from using the toilet for three whole days after their wedding in order to ensure a happy life together. The happy-but-hungry couple is given minimal amounts of food and water over the 72 hours following their wedding ceremony.

Newlyweds from which South American country make a game of sneaking off before the end of the reception?

If Venezuelan newlyweds manage to sneak away from their reception without anyone catching them, it's considered to be good luck. It's also good luck for the first guest to realize they're gone.

It's traditional for newlyweds in which international capital to take wedding photos in front of The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier?

Many Americans would be surprised to learn that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetary is not the only Tomb of the Unknown in the world (it's not even the only one in America). Nearly 50 nations have monuments honoring their unknown fallen heroes, including Egypt, Portugal, and the Dominican Republic. One such monument is located near the Kremlin Wall in Alexander Garden in Moscow, and married couples in Moscow take wedding photos in front of the monument to pay tribute to the troops.

Scotland has a, shall we say, colorful tradition in the days leading up to a wedding. It is known as _____ the bride?

Weird and vaguely racist as it may sound, the Scots have a long tradition of blackening the bride (and sometimes the groom). Friends and loved ones tie the bride to a chair and then coat her with disgusting substances such as soot, rotten milk, treacle, or anything else they can think of. The poor bride is then paraded around town while people blow whistles, bang drums, and generally make all the noise the can. Filed under "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", the Scots believe this humiliation does serve a good purpose. According to WeddingClan.com, "Scots believe that this kind of hazing and humiliation knocks the rosy notions of marriage out of a couple’s mind and better prepares them for facing the harsh realities of married life. The ritual is supposed to signify that a couple who can last through this jarring trial with humility can face any challenge that life may through their way later on."

At Guatemalan weddings, the Mother of the Groom welcomes the happy couple to the reception by breaking a white porcelean bell filled with what?

In most North American weddings, the arrival of the bride and groom is announced by the DJ. In Guatemalan weddings, the arrival is announced by the mother of the groom, who then smashes a small white porcelain bell filled with flour, rice, and grains. This is said to bring luck and prosperity to the couple and ensure they never go without.

What do Russian couples do to determine who is head of the household?

Russian newlyweds jokingly decide who will be head of their new household by taking bites of a special wedding sweetbread called a karavaya that is often decorated with symbols of love and prosperity. Whoever can take the biggest bite without using their hands is the winner.

What unusual task must Mongolian couples perform prior to beginning the wedding ceremony?

On the day of the wedding, a Mongolian bride arrives at the groom's house and together, the couple must kill a young chicken to inspect its liver for omens. If they find an unsatisfactory omen in the first chicken, they must keep going until they find a good one. And no, the chickens are not traditionally served at the wedding.

In Mexico, it is traditional for the bride to carry how many bouquets?

Mexican brides traditionally carry two bouquets, one for her and one to honor The Virgin of Guadalupe. The bouquet honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe is traditionally a dozen roses, and during the ceremony, both bride and groom will place the rose bouquet in front of a statue of the Virgin and ask for her blessing on the marriage.

What is thrown at Czech newlyweds as they leave the ceremony?

While rice is still sometimes used, it's become more common for wellwishers to throw peas at the newlyweds as they leave the ceremony. Both peas and rice, as well as the lentils that are sometimes thrown, are symbols of fertility. Rice has become less popular as scientists have warned it's harmful to birds.

In which island nation is it considered bad luck for the bride's feet to leave the floor?

In Irish weddings, the bride is to keep both feet on the ground at all times, even when dancing (which makes said dancing kind of difficult). The tradition stems from a belief that having feet in the air and not on the ground would make it easier for evil faeries to carry the bride away.

In which part of the United Kingdom is it customary for the groom to present the bride with a carved wooden spoon?

Welsh grooms give their bride an intricately carved wooden spoon as a symbol that he can provide for her. In the olden days, grooms carved the spoons themselves, but now it has become acceptable to buy a carved spoon from a skilled crafts-worker.

A German wedding ceremony involves the couple using what tool?

A traditional part of a German ceremony is the presentation to the bride and groom of a two-handled saw and a log. The couple must work together to saw the log in half to show their ability to work together to overcome difficulties.

Which part of the old rhyme doesn't apply to Italian brides?

In Italian culture, something blue becomes something green. Green symbolizes good luck, harmony, fertility, and has a strong connotation of safety. By contrast, blue represents trust, loyalty, confidence, and has a calming effect.

Japanese ceremonies often include the rite of san-san-kudo, which focuses on how many cups of sake?

San-san-kudo is a section of tradition Japanese weddings where the bride and groom each take three sips from three cups of sake, then both sets of parents take three sips from the same three cups. It's kind of a liquid unity candle that binds the families together. Three is considered to be a very lucky number in Japan.

Which South American country has a tradition of baking a fake wedding ring inside the cake?

Peruvian wedding cakes have one fake engagement ring baked into them, much like the tiny baby inside Mardi Gras King Cakes. The ring is attached to a ribbon that is visible on the outside of the cake, along with several other ribbons attached to nothing. The single woman who finds the fake ring is said to be the next to be married.

Which country has a tradition of smashing plates and making the married couple clean them up?

German wedding guests smash plates on the ground to ward off evil spirits and the newlyweds are expected to clean it all up. The tradition, much like the log sawing, is meant to show them that no challenge is too big if they work together.

What seemingly cruel tradition do Kenyan fathers of the bride carry out?

Kenyan brides get dressed up in all their wedding finery, all the while knowing that their fathers are about to spit on them. It sounds mean (and unhygienic), but it comes from a good place. The thought is that if people are seen to be too supportive of the newlyweds, it will tempt fate, so in order to ensure a happy life, the father must appear to be unsupportive.

Indian weddings include the traditional game of "Joota Chupai," which the hiding of what article of clothing?

Part of an Indian wedding ceremony involves the groom removing his shoes to walk up to the altar. The game begins when the bride's family playfully tries to steal the shoes while the groom's family tries to protect it. The game is said to be a bonding experience for the two families.

What must a Russian groom do the morning of the wedding to appease his bride's family?

The morning of the wedding, a Russian groom must go to the house of his bride's family and prove his worth by paying a "ransom" that usually takes the form of gifts for the family. If they choose to, the bride's family can make the groom sing and dance and generally humiliate himself until they decide he's proven himself. It sounds mean, but it's all in good fun.

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