It’s wedding season.
If you’ve got an invite in Australia, that generally means a couple of interminably long hours sweltering in too many clothes waiting for the vows to be shared so you can hop into the free booze.
It would be much more tolerable if you knew the newlyweds would soon be skolling from a toilet bowl, sawing a log in half, or getting spanked with dried fish.
To celebrate the season and because they’re committed to long-term relationships, Aussie dating site EliteSingles has pulled together a list of excellent wedding traditions from around the world.
We think you really should think about them, too – with all appropriate cultural appropriations considered, of course – if you’re about to tie the knot.
Here are 11 of the best. You can see the rest at EliteSingles.
A few days before the wedding, there is the ‘Blackening of the Bride,’ where the bride (and sometimes the groom) are ‘captured’ by friends and family, covered in filthy things like beer, treacle, spoiled fish, feathers, and flour, then paraded through the streets for all to see. The plan is that, if they can get through this trial, marital strife will be a breeze!
When a Russian groom comes to pick up his bride, the bridesmaids will meet him at the door with a list of challenges he must pass before he can proceed. He might have to sing songs, recite poems – or pay a ransom. Often, his first ransom offer will buy him an alternate bride (usually a male friend in a dress and veil) before he offers more and finally gets his love.
When the groom takes off his shoes on the way to the mandap (altar), the bride’s family promptly try to steal them and hide them. The groom’s family must try and protect the shoes at all costs – and so the battle of the families begins! If the bride’s family gets away with the shoes, the groom must pay to ransom them back.
After a Mexican couple has pledged their vows, their family and best friends ‘lasso’ them together with a special rope. This rope can often be very elaborate, made of crystals or beads and is tied in a figure-eight shape to symbolise the couple’s lasting unity. This has some similarities to a Celtic hand-fasting (thought to be the origin of the phrase ‘tie the knot!’)
After the wedding, everyone typically goes to the groom’s house. Hanging over the doorway is a white ceramic bell filled with rice, flour, and other different types of grain – all of which represent abundance. As the couple arrives, the mother of the groom welcomes them and ceremonially smashes the bell, bringing the couple good luck and prosperity.
As the wedding reception draws to a close, French newlyweds are presented with a real chamber pot, filled with the leftover bits of alcohol from the wedding (and sometimes extra delights like melted chocolate, banana, or even toilet paper!). The couple must consume it all before leaving, so as to build up strength before the, er, taxing wedding night ahead.
After the wedding, usually during the reception, the groom will be surrounded by his groomsmen and closest friends, who will cut the tie from around his neck! The tie will then be cut into small pieces and auctioned off to the wedding guests, bringing good luck to everyone who manages to get a piece.
After the ceremony, the bride and groom have to use a two-person crosscut handsaw to cut a large log in half - while still in their bridal clothes! This symbolises the ways in which they must work together in the future (although, to make it a bit quicker, the log has sometimes already been partially sawn through by the fathers of the bride and groom).
The first course of a Czech wedding meal is soup. The bride and groom are wrapped together in a towel or sheet and then must eat their soup from one bowl, with one spoon between them – sometimes with their hands tied together too! This symbolises the way in which they will have to work together in the future.
In Quebec and other French-speaking parts of Canada, the older, unmarried siblings of the bride and groom perform a dance at the reception while wearing ridiculous, brightly-colored, knitted socks. Guests can show their approval of the dancing display by tossing money at the siblings, which is then (generously) donated to the bride and groom.
In some of America's southern states the bride and groom bury a (full!) bottle of bourbon upside-down at or near the site where they’ll say their vows. This must be done one month before the wedding in order to ward off rain on the wedding day and, whether the weather plays along or not, the bourbon will be dug up, shared, and enjoyed during the reception.
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