Category Archives: Cultural Weddings


What’s with the coins?

In Spain, Panama, and Mexico, grooms give their brides 13 gold coins as a sign of their wealth and ability to provide for their marriage. The priest will bless these coins during the ceremony and be handed back and forth between the bride and groom, ultimately ending in the hands of the bride. A new tradition involves the bride bringing her own coins to exchange, showing equality in the responsibility of the success of the marriage.


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Jewish Wedding Traditions

The Jewish Ketubah

Traditional Hebrew wedding ceremonies begin with the bride and groom signing a marriage contract, called the Ketubah. The agreement, which once assured the bride’s legal status, states the expectations and duties of the couple once they are married. This beautiful, ornate document will be framed and displayed in the couples’ home.

After the couple have signed the Ketubah, the groom lowers his bride’s wedding veil after studying her face. This wedding custom recalls the biblical story of Jacob, who married the wrong woman when she covered her face with a veil.

In the Jewish tradition, the wedding ring should be simple, a band with no details, no stones, and nothing engraved, with nothing to distinguish the beginning from the end. The rabbi, groom, groomsmen, and Jewish male guests traditionally wear a white-colored cap called a yamulkes.

The Traditional Jewish Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony begins with a procession of the wedding party members. At the wedding site, both sets of parents escort the bride and groom down the aisle. The marriage ceremony is performed under a special canopy, called a huppah, which represents God’s presence, shelter and protection.

After exchanging wedding vows, seven marriage blessings are read. The groom then steps on a wine glass, to symbolize the fragility of human happiness, a hallmark of Jewish history. It is also traditional for the bride and groom to be alone together for a few moments immediately after the ceremony. This tradition, called yichud, originated so that the marriage could be consummated, but now it is observed as a lovely time to be together before the reception. There is rarely, therefore, a receiving line at a Jewish wedding.

Favorite Jewish Wedding Dances

Wedding receptions are joyous celebrations, with much singing and many traditional dances. A lively Israeli dance called the Hora is performed at the wedding reception. While they hold on to either end of a handkerchief, bride and groom are lifted into the air on chairs by their joyful guests, as they are celebrated as ‘king and queen of the night’.

A lovely Jewish custom called the “Krenzl” — which means ‘crowning’ honors the bride’s mother when her last daughter is wed. The mother is seated in the center of the room and is crowned with a wreath of flowers, then all her daughters dance around her to a very lively Yiddish song. The Mizinke is a dance of celebration reserved for both parents who have just seen their last son or daughter married. The guests encircle the mother and father, while bestowing them with wedding flowers and kisses.

Another traditional dance is called “gladdening of the bride.” All of the guests at the reception circle the bride while they dance and sing praises about her.

A Jewish wedding would not be complete without a sumptuous meal to satisfy the entire wedding party and guests.

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Weddings with a French Flair

For many brides and grooms, acknowledging their ethnicity during their wedding ceremony is a way to pay homage to the family that’s come before them. Here in the United States, where we enjoy a melting pot of ethnic and religious backgrounds, the opportunity to bear witness to the traditions of other cultures is highly accessible, providing us with a multitude of ways to celebrate our heritage – especially if ours is a mix of several different cultures.

According to “Brides Magazine,” 12% of US couples will include customs from their ethnic background in their weddings. Additionally, more will include customs that aren’t necessarily from their own backgrounds, but from cultures they find personally meaningful.

If you’re looking to include some French customs or traditions into your wedding celebrations, why not consider the following:

In many smaller French towns, the groom will meet his betrothed at her home on the day of the wedding and escort her to the ceremony. Across the road, children stretch white ribbons which the bride cuts as they proceed towards the chapel.

You might choose to emulate this custom by having white ribbons strung across the center aisle of the temple or church. (Guests can be seated using the outside aisles.) Then, as you proceed down the aisle towards your husband-to-be, you (or a small child) could cut the ribbons with silver-handled scissors.

Use laurel leaves instead of rose petals to line the path towards the altar.

Some French bridal couples choose to serve a croquembouche instead of a wedding cake. This tasty desert is a pyramid of crème-filled pastry puffs that are drizzled with a caramel glaze. You might consider having one instead of, or in addition to, a regular wedding cake. You might also request your baker to create a cake in the shape of the Eiffel Tower or another famous French landmark.

You could recite part of your vows in French, then repeat them in English – or have the translation be a part of your wedding program.

Another tradition you could incorporate into your wedding celebration is that of “beheading” a bottle of champagne with a sabre specially-made for the occasion. Begun as a means of showing off their skill on horseback, the Hussards under Napoleon’s command celebrated their victories by ‘sabring’ off the top of a bottle of champagne. As legend has it, these skilled horsemen would ride on horseback at a full gallop while brave (or foolhardy!) ladies would hold up the bottles. With over 100 lbs. of pressure per square inch in a bottle of champagne, the sabre must strike the neck at exactly the right angle.

Today, celebrants can purchase decorative replicas of these sabres that have been faithfully recreated by artisans in Thiers, France – the French capital of cutlery and use them at their own wedding feasts. (You can view one of these specialized sabres by clicking on the related link at the top righthand side of this page…)

In France, during the reception the couple often uses a toasting cup called a “Coupe de Marriage.” (In fact, the origin of giving a toast began in France when a small piece of toast was dropped into the couple’s wine to ensure a healthy life. Hence the reference to lifting your glass in a “toast.”) Instead of lighting a unity candle, you might consider sipping from a Coupe de Marriage once the ceremony is complete, thereby signifying your new status as a couple. Use your favorite search engine to help you locate one of these special wedding cups online.

Undoubtedly, whatever way you choose to celebrate, your wedding ceremony will be as unique and filled with love as you are!

courtesy BellaOnline

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Japanese wedding attire

Traditional Japanese wedding attire is a lot different than the modern-day gowns you see in bridal magazines.

To start, brides are painted in white from head to toe. The bride wears a white kimono dress called “shiromaku.” Shiro means white and maku means pure, both symbolizing the bride. This is also known as a Uchikake. She wears a headdress with Kanzashi ornaments to invite good luck to the couple and their marriage. On top of this headdress is a hood called Tsuno Kakushi, which is similar to a veil. This hides her “horns of jealousy” from the groom’s mother, who after the wedding ceremony is considered the head of the family.

The groom wears a montsuki kimono with a short haori overcoat over pleated hakama pants. Traditionally the overcoat has the image of his family crest.

At the reception, the bride will typically change into a red kimono then later into a white western-style gown. Red and white are lucky colors at Japanese weddings, so the colors of the gowns are symbols of luck.

Friends of the bride and groom don their most colorful kimonos to display joy and happiness for the couple’s new union. Japanese wedding receptions are usually quite colorful due to all the beautiful fabrics.

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Chinese Firecrackers

After the Chinese wedding ceremony, firecrackers are lit to chase any evil spirits and demons away from the couple. A word of advice, you should also stand away from the firecrackers.

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Sneaky, Sneaky

In Venezuela, brides and grooms to sneak out of the reception unnoticed before the party ends. This is considered to bring good luck to their marriage. So don’t be alarmed when the people you’re there to celebrate disappear on you. Just keep eating and drinking on their dime 🙂

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White and Yellow Corn

To symbolize their bonding, American Indian couples will share a meal of corn mush during their ceremony. Two types of corn are used: white and yellow. White represents male and yellow female, joined together.

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