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.
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.
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.