It is indisputably one of the nicest days in the lives of the bridal couple – their own wedding. However, an enormous amount of time is invested in its organisation and no expense is spared either as after all you don’t get married every day and you want everything to be as perfect as possible. If so much importance is attached to one day in order to fulfil one’s own requirements and also meet the expectations of others, stress is bound to occur. It is therefore no wonder that more and more couples are deciding not to encumber themselves on top of all this with all the various wedding customs and traditions. From the marriage proposal and engagement ring to the bridal bouquet: Find out which wedding customs are traditional in which countries and what they mean. How many of them have you upheld yourself or witnessed at a wedding?
Wedding customs around the world
Although there are many universal wedding traditions, each country and culture still has its own wedding customs and these already start with the proposal. The proposal has always been (and still is) tendered by the man practically everywhere in the world. In its romantic conception preferably on his knees and with a sparkling diamond ring.
In an age in which equal opportunities between the genders is the subject of lively discussion, it astonishingly still remains the exception for a woman to propose marriage. Traditions and rituals are clearly still very important for many people despite social changes. However, the women in two North European countries flout this traditional division of roles and instead avail themselves of another tradition: In the UK, and particularly in Ireland, a state of exception prevails on every 29 February. Every leap year the women ask for the hand of their sweetheart. According to Irish tradition, the men are practically obliged to accept as otherwise they would do the lady a dishonour. According to legend, this wedding custom dates back to St. Patrick who picked this date that at that time lay outside the scope of the law in order also to grant women the right to propose marriage.
Have you ever wondered why it actually is that one goes down on one’s knees when proposing marriage? This tradition is even older than the white wedding dress. According to historians, the man – or the woman as the case may be – expresses his or her respect in this manner. Particularly in the Christian context, kneeling down is considered a sign of humility and respect. In the Middle Ages, knights expressed their loyalty by falling on their knees. In today’s times this gesture is considered romantic and films are barely imaginable without it. But like every tradition, it is also increasingly seen to be old-fashioned and is being abandoned more and more.
Who might be the next one?
As a single at a wedding, it’s hard to evade the question of when it will be one’s own turn. Sometimes one is also nudged in a loving and well-meaning manner against one’s will when the time comes to throw the wedding bouquet. But why does the bride have a bouquet for the wedding ceremony in the first place? This custom comes from the Renaissance period and originally had a very practical purpose: The very sparse personal hygiene at this time and the overpowering incense fragrance in churches caused very poor air. It was not uncommon for brides even to faint. An aromatic bouquet of flowers prevented sudden feelings of faintness and diffused a sweet scent – a tradition that today barely seems imaginable to forego. The custom of bouquet throwing is particularly popular in Europe and America. According to this wedding custom, the lady who catches the bouquet will be the next bride.
Not just the bouquet but also another accessory of the bride is interpreted as an omen that a wedding is imminent. Brides in Turkey and Greece write on the soles of their wedding shoes the names of their single (female) friends. The ladies whose names are no longer legible at the end of the evening’s dancing can look forward to their own wedding in the near future.
Wedding customs in Switzerland
There are also many wedding customs in Switzerland that strictly speaking do not necessarily have Swiss origins but which form an essential part of weddings here. One such custom is forming a guard of honour. This symbolises that the couple will jointly overcome the marriage’s obstacles. Work and club mates form a guard of honour in front of the church or registry office. The bridal couple then marches through a tunnel that may comprise upheld footballs, tennis rackets or skis depending on the hobby of the bride or bridegroom.
Tree trunk sawing is actually a Bavarian custom that came to Switzerland from our northern neighbours. Similarly to forming a guard of honour, this custom also symbolises the challenges of the future married couple. The trick here is that the bridal couple is given a blunt saw to jointly saw through a tree trunk. With this wedding custom the bridal couple displays how it jointly overcomes obstacles while the guests enjoy themselves heartily.
While the wedding celebrates the couple’s relationship and shared life, the most precious treasure is and remains the love between two people. Nevertheless, it can’t do any harm to think in good time about whether you’d like to take out valuables insurance for your engagement or wedding ring, valuable gifts such as a watch or a family heirloom. You may already have valuables insurance and merely need to add the new objects. We would be happy to inform you about your options.