Unpleasant Wedding Customs

Unpleasant Wedding Customs Around the World

Weddings in the U.S. are, by and large, pretty pleasant affairs. Even with a few outdated traditions some couples follow, it’s still all in good fun. If there’s any pain or humiliation involved, it’s usually just the bride trying to squeeze into her dress or the groom forgetting to zip his fly. So you can enjoy reading about these largely unpleasant wedding traditions around the world, free from the worry that someone is going to hit you with a fish or throw hard candy at you on your big day. Unless, that is, you ask them to for some weird reason.

Italy: Pelted with Candy

In Italy, there’s a tradition of serving candied almonds called “confetti” to the bride and groom as they leave the wedding venue. And by “serving to,” we mean, “throwing at.” These days, the guests usually just eat the confetti, but back in the day it was custom to chuck the hard candy at the wedding couple. And you thought getting pelted with rice was bad; this unpleasant wedding custom takes it up several notches!

Scotland: Blackening of the Bride

If you thought having to put up with some humiliation at your bachelorette party was bad, be thankful you aren’t a bride in 1800’s Scotland. They have a tradition called “blackening of the bride,” which was supposed to make it so the worst thing the bride would ever experience happened before the wedding, so it was all uphill from there. Brides would be covered in all manner of gross muck, including mud, fish, eggs, and syrup–every imaginable manner of grossness in this unpleasant wedding custom.

France: Drinking out of a Toilet Bowl

If you get married in France, you might have to endure the tradition of le soupe, where the wedding couple drinks out of a toilet bowl. The more modern version of le soupe is just chocolate and champagne–which is gross enough, since you’re drinking something brown and soupy out of a toilet bowl. Back in the day it was much worse, though. After the wedding reception, the wedding couple’s family would throw every bit of leftover food and drink into a chamber pot and mix it all up for the couple to drink. Think a mix of hors d’oeuvres, cake, bits of the meal, punch, beer, even napkins; and you and your partner would need to take a big gulp to complete this unpleasant wedding custom.

Indonesia: Hit with a Fish

What with standing for hours and wearing tight-fitting fancy shoes, it’s natural that the groom’s feet might be a little sore by the end of an American wedding. At the end of an Indonesian wedding, though, his feet will be sore for an entirely different reason. After the reception, the groom’s friends strip off his shoes and socks and whack him on the soles of his feet with a dead fish (or some use a regular old cane, but the fish is ever so much more interesting). The idea is that they want to make sure the couple spends most of the next day off their feet–wink-wink, nudge-nudge), so they ensure the groom isn’t up to doing any more standing.

Your wedding day may not be perfect, but at least you know you’ll escape it relatively unscathed. Compared to some of these unpleasant wedding customs around the globe, having a little cake squished in your face doesn’t seem all that bad, does it?

French Polynesia

Strange Wedding Traditions Across the World

Nothing livens up a wedding like incorporating traditional elements from another culture. Whether it’s Germany’s dish-smashing Polterabend or France’s raucous Charivaree, you can enjoy these traditions even if they’re not part of your particular heritage. There are a few traditions, though, that may not be so easily integrated into a modern wedding ceremony. If you think the bouquet toss is a little too weird, we definitely don’t recommend trying any of the following wedding traditions from around the world:

Chinese Inner Mongolia: The Daur

The Daur people, an indigenous group in China, have a strange way of finalizing a wedding date. There are no save-the-date cards when the bride and groom pick a day. Instead, they do something similar to the cake-cutting ceremony at a wedding, only instead of a cake, it’s a baby chick. The wedding couple must kill the chick together and examine its liver. We’re not sure what criteria they’re working from, but the liver must be “favorable.” If it doesn’t meet whatever standards make a liver favorable, they have to pick another chick and start over until they find a good liver.


There’s one tradition in Fiji that’s pretty common in the Western world as well: the groom can’t propose until he gets permission from his father-in-law. For us, it’s a custom that may be a little quaint, but is mostly harmless. In Fiji they take it to the next level, though: when the groom asks for permission to marry, he’s expected to bring a rather difficult-to-procure present: a whale tooth. We can only assume there’s a big underground market for whale teeth on the island.

Southern Sudan

In the Western world, the marriage is not considered complete until the marriage certificate is signed in the presence of witnesses and filed with the proper authorities. We have it easy. There’s a tribe in Southern Sudan with a considerably higher criteria for judging a marriage complete: it’s not considered a valid marriage until the couple have at least two children. If the bride “fails to provide” a couple of offspring, the groom is free to seek a divorce.

French Polynesia

You may be planning on walking out of your wedding venue on a carpet of rose petals or just a traditional paper or cloth aisle runner. If you were in French Polynesia, on the Maruesas Islands, you’d be walking across a slightly different (and rather more uneven) surface. It’s customary in that culture for all of the bride’s family in attendance to lie on the ground face down, creating a human aisle runner. The bride and groom are expected to walk across them and on to their new life.

There are plenty of global wedding traditions and customs that wouldn’t seem out of place on your wedding day. Feel free to draw inspiration from other cultures if these wedding traditions appeal to you. Then again, there are a few that might seem a little odd to your wedding guests. We recommend leaving the chicken livers and whale teeth to their respective cultures and choosing wedding traditions that are more widely accepted for your big day.