1. A game of ‘hide and seek’ (India)
Weddings are known to be joyous occasions, but in India, weddings also come packed with a cheeky twist. It comes in the form of the wedding tradition ‘Joota Chupai’, or literally translated as ‘hiding shoes’.
When the groom enters the ‘mandap’ (a temple porch) for the wedding ceremony, the groom will follow the custom of removing his shoes. Usually unbeknown to the groom, the unmarried girls from the bride’s side will take off with the groom’s shoes and hide it somewhere.
As the groom must leave the ‘mandap’ in the same shoes he came in with, the groom is usually made to pay a ransom fee for his shoes to be returned back to him. In order to avoid paying the fee, the groom’s brothers and cousins will try their best to help find the shoes! This lively game of ‘Joota Chupai’ is meant to show the acceptance from both sides of the family, and how willing and ready they are to share a lifetime of laughter and fun together.
This tradition is also practiced in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
2. Third Time’s A Charm (Iran)
Unlike India, where weddings come with an added touch of humor, Persian weddings can come packed with suspense.
In traditional Persian ceremonies, the bride keeps the groom in suspense with her vows. It is common for the Officiant of the wedding to ask the bride ‘do you grant me permission to officiate this marriage between you and the groom?’, and for the bride to remain silent for the first two times.
Only during the third time, then can the bride give her permission to the Officiant. The reason why this tradition is followed is simple: This custom is meant to demonstrate that the bride has fully considered the marriage and is not rushing into this important decision.
However, for the wedding guests who aren’t familiar with this unique ‘exchange of vows’, it adds an interesting and fun element to the ceremony. The tension also adds to everyone’s eagerness to hear the bride say that much-anticipated ‘yes’!
3. The Cake Pull (Peru)
Almost like cake tug-of-war, but not quite! Traditionally, most weddings have bridesmaids scrambling to catch the bouquet in the ‘bouquet toss’. It is widely believed that whoever catches the bouquet is next in line to get married. Peruvians have an almost similar tradition, but in the form of the ‘Peruvian Cake Pull’.
During Peruvian weddings, all the single girls will gather around the wedding cake. The cake will be adorned with numerous ribbons, with a ring tied to the end of one ribbon. Whoever pulls out the ribbon with the ring attached on it, is believed to be next in line to get married. Just like the bouquet toss, the may the one with the luckiest fingers win!
4. No Smiling Please! (Congo)
In Congo, getting married is considered a solemn and serious affair. That being so, the bride and groom are not allowed to smile throughout the entire wedding ceremony. From the wedding reception to the ceremony, the newly-weds must keep a straight face…and their happiness in check. It is believed that even something as light-hearted as a grin signifies that the couple isn’t serious about their marriage.
5. An Abundance of Customs (Armenia)
We all have heard of the old English rhyme ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’, signifying the four crucial objects that a bride has with her on the big day for a touch of good luck.
In Armenia, brides will usually incorporate the ‘evil-eye’ charm (or Atchka Ooloonk in Armenian) into her wedding outfit as her ‘something blue’. The charm is believed to repel bad fortune for those who carry it.
Apart from the Atchka Ooloonk tradition, it is also common for the bride’s single female friends to write their names on the sole of the bride’s shoe. In time, when the female friends find their ‘sole-mates’, the bride will strike each name off.
In Armenian weddings, another custom widely practiced is before the bride puts on the veil, she will hold the veil over the heads of all the single women in the room. It is believed that by circling the veils over their heads gives the single ladies luck in finding husbands. Finally, the veil is placed atop the bride’s head by a married woman, implying that the married woman is passing her own luck in marriage to the bride.
6. Is Bigger Better? (Mauritius)
Days, or even weeks before their big day, brides around the world may go on a diet to lose those extra pounds for their wedding. However, for the Mauritian brides, it is the exact opposite.
In Mauritius, a country plagued by famine and food shortages, being obese is considered a symbol of ‘wealth’ in a women. Having a bigger wife also shows that a man can provide in excess for his family. As a result, Mauritian women are sent away to a ‘fat camp’ before their wedding ceremony to be fattened up. The women are fed huge quantities of goat’s milk and oily couscous, until they are at the ‘desired’ size. Only then, the women are ready for marriage.
However in the recent years, this tradition has come under much public scrutiny. Mauritian women being force-fed for marriage has led to health problems such as obesity, and the government has since stepped in to intervene with this wedding tradition.
7. The Money Dance (Cuba)
Lively music and dancing are characteristically Cuban, more so during Cuban weddings! With that in mind, it is of no wonder why a ‘money dance’ is still a traditional custom for weddings in Cuba.
It is common for almost all male guests to partake in a dance with the bride. The male guests will then pin some money on the bride’s dress, as a form of thanks for the wedding invitation and as a contribution to the married couple’s wedding and honeymoon expenses. The ‘money dance’ is also performed throughout South America, in countries such as Puerto Rico and Mexico.
8. The Disappearing Game (Venezuela)
Traditionally in most weddings, the bride and groom will be given a jovial send-off by their friends and family. However in Venezuela, don’t be surprised if you can’t find the bride and groom towards the end of the wedding ceremony! It is customary for Venezuelan couples to quietly slip away from their wedding party without saying ‘goodbye’, as it is believed that it would bring the bride and groom good luck in their married life.
It is also common for the guests to ‘turn a blind eye’ if they spot the newly-married couple inconspicuously making their exit – all in the name of helping the couple stay lucky. The guests themselves will just stay on and continue to party!