6 Unusual European wedding traditions
Forget throwing confetti and tying tin cans to the bumper, these wedding traditions from around Europe are a world away from classic British nuptials.
Weddings are universally full of love, laughter, and celebration. While you might have attended enough to know what to expect from a traditionally British union, there are some interesting points of difference around the world.
Whether you’re planning your own nuptials or lucky enough to be invited as a guest, experts at language app Babbel share some of the most unusual international traditions, to inspire and enlighten you as the wedding season approaches.
Photo by Adrianna Van Groningen
Germany has a number of unusual wedding traditions. On the evening beforehand, the couple’s family and friends will often gather together for polterabend where they break porcelain—sometimes even including sinks and toilet bowls.
The shards are collectively cleaned up by the couple to remind them that they will now be working together as a team. On the day itself, many couples will also saw a log in half in front of their guests, again to demonstrate their teamwork!
Italians love a good party, and a wedding is no exception. Guests driving to the reception will form a queue behind the couple and beep their horn (very loudly!) to show their enthusiasm.
Each guest will also be given bomboniera’ a small gift containing five white confetti (sugared almonds) symbolising health, fertility, happiness, wealth, and long life.
These sweet treats are not to be eaten, though! They are instead used to shower the couple with good luck.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo
Weddings can be a stressful affair, but one thing a Spanish bride doesn’t have to agonise over is choosing bridesmaids, as it’s not customary to have them. And while she’ll typically be escorted down the aisle by her father, the mother of the groom will also accompany her son to the altar, too.
The importance of family also dominates at the reception, where the top table will typically consist of only six seats, for the couple and their parents only.
Photo by Benjaminrobyn Jespersen
Forget the Manolos, a Portuguese bride will typically travel to the ceremony on foot, along with the whole wedding party. Her shoes come into play later, as they are passed around and stuffed with money.
At the end of the evening, the newlyweds are expected to literally escape their wedding, with guests creating creative and competitive ways to keep them from leaving, such as taking their luggage or trying to keep them apart from one another.
It’s not uncommon for a Russian wedding to become a week long celebration. But Russia’s most interesting tradition is vykup nevesty: a comical situation performed by the bride’s family.
On the morning of the wedding, the groom is expected to pay a ransom for his bride. While the mood is light, the gifts are real, with everything from money to jewellery offered to the family. As part of the game, her family may bring out someone else disguised as the bride, getting the groom to up his ante until they are satisfied.
Keep your loose change handy at a Polish wedding, where instead of throwing confetti, it’s tradition to throw a handful of coins at the happy couple.
At the reception, one of the couple’s fathers will present them with two glasses—one of vodka, one of water. The bride must choose one first, not knowing which one is which. The tradition goes that whoever takes the vodka will take charge in the relationship.
After drinking, the couple then throw their glasses and if they break, it’s a sign of good luck to come.