Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life

5 Strange Wedding Traditions Around The World


Wedding can be some pretty strange affairs. In fact, some might argue that entire concept of getting hitched legally to someone when there is a 50% possibility of it not working out is pretty inane in itself, but we love it! While we’re all used to the standard ‘here comes the bride’ moments, I also have other more awkward memories as a child going to weddings where the groom takes his newlywed’s garter off her thigh using just his teeth typically he’s pretty drunk by this point as well. Actually everyone was drink and it wouldn’t be uncommon to see someone sleeping in the bathroom, probably my uncle. This of course is in the deep south where saying ‘oh my god’ gets you a reprimand, true believers should say ‘gosh’ instead. Drinking however, is an art form. 

I say skip any traditions you feel like, make your wedding your own and incorporate only those rituals that mean something to you, and you’ll likely remember more. At our wedding, we had no bridesmaids, Nico had a female ‘witness’, different style wedding bands, no ‘rice,’ and that’s just the start. I’d like to think of us as rebels, but we were probably just a little lazy.

A newlywed game the day of our wedding ;-). Photo credit: Francesco Spighi
A newlywed game the day of our wedding ;-). Photo credit: Francesco Spighi

photo credit above: Francesco Spighi Photograhy – check out the rest of our wedding photos here.

When it comes to awkward things that happen at during the big day, there are stories a plenty. Just ask any wedding planner. In Italy, a failed attempt at throwing a bridal bouquet from a plane resulted in it actually crashing (no joke — thankfully no one died). Or what about throwing expensive lobster at one another? And you seriously don’t want to piss off the person making your wedding cake, shit can get real crazy.

Since I’ve been talking plenty about weddings lately, I thought why not broach the topic of more ‘original’ bizarre traditions around the world. Organized crying, filthy hazing, kidnapping your bridge and who could forget, getting married to a tree. One that I read about not included in the list below is an ancient one from France called the ‘délicieux Toilette La Soupe’ that forced a just-married couple to drink an anything-but-delicious disgusting bowl of any crap left over from the night before. Luckily I have been pricy to many a French wedding and haven’t witnessed or experienced this first-hand. I have instead been out-danced by pregnant French women (who all seem to have kids, seriously these people like to procreate).

This is all part of our COSI Italy blogger-round-table topic of the month on weird rituals in Italy since we are a pretty strange bunch ourselves and my fellow weirdos bloggers will likely touch on strange rituals in Italy. I can’t wait to read all of them myself!

Scotland – Blackening The Bride

You gotta love Scotland, actually I adore the country that has brought us the story of Braveheart and the interesting dish haggis, and who can forget, men in kilts, underwear optional. I’ve only been once but what a glorious 10 days my visit was. When it comes to bizarre traditions, apparently in rural Scotland, the bride and groom are rounded up by some boisterous friends for the custom of ‘blackening the bride’. This means they are rolled around town while people quite literally through trash and weird shit all over the soon-to-be-newlyweds om a sort of hazing. The more disgusting the better mind you — rotting eggs, curdled milk fish gone bad all while their ‘friends’ make as much noise as humanely possible during the rowdy ‘shame parade.’

A little public humiliation before your ‘i do’s probably is a great testament to how you handle problems in the future right? I have a feeling this was started during someone’s drunk night out and alcohol is involved, but actually it’s a tradition that stems from warding off evil spirits, and still occurs on the islands of  Aberdeenshire, Angus and Fife. Additional rituals in Scotland that are far less frightening include the Penny Bridal which includes donations to help cover the wedding feast. Or the ‘blackening’ could have evolved from the tradition of  having the to-be bride’s feet washed by friends in water where a long-married woman has dropped her wedding ring.

China – Crying Your Way Into A New Life

Nothing says love like shedding tears in mass, right? 

In the Sichuan Province, especially regarding the Tujia people, has existed an ancient wedding tradition called “Zuo Tang (Sitting in the Hall)” until the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It’s a ritual where the soon-to-be-bride actually starts physically crying about a month before her wedding day. Part of the reason is for the girl to show that she is sad and reluctant to leave her family.

Typically she weeps for about an hour, then 10 days later her mom joins — oh yeah, and 10 days after that, her grandma. I really hope to god these people have plenty of tissues. It makes you think that perhaps this is a tradition stemming from actually miserable brides who were forced to marry assholes, whatever the truth, it’s not something you see so much of anymore. Though yelling at the ‘matchmaker’ in the local village wasn’t uncommon during these ‘crying’ times. You can read more and cry yourself to sleep here.

Check out this video featuring the song below. I think they might be able to surpass Bieber! 

Nothing Says Love Like.. Kidnapping Your Bride

Who could forget that scene in the film, Borat. When he loving throws a burlap sack over his idol Pamela Anderson as per ‘bridal kidnapping’ custom. Which brings me to the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan, where the ancient ritual of kidnapping your girl, locally known as ala kachuu or “grab and run” is still present. I actually thought this was a joke until I did some research. In fact, some say up to 11,800 girls are kidnapped yearly and that half of all married Kyrgyz women have been “stolen.” And it’s not always welcomed.

To be honest, this sounds absolutely terrifying. Can you imagine minding your own business only to have a group of guys jump out of their car and accost you in route to the family yurt, with the aim at forcing you to marry them? First of all what’s a yurt? According to Newsweek, and despite resistance on the brides part, after pressure by both the grooms and her family, “around 84% of kidnapped women end up agreeing to the nuptials.” God I hope this will soon be a myth..

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

India – Trees Have Feelings Too

The bizarre just keeps on going, this time to the country of 1.2 billion people, India. One wedding tradition that is pretty out there involves a tree, well more than just a tree, marriage to said tree. Not everyone does this, only if you are a woman and born Mangliks  (an astrological combination when Mars and Saturn are both under the 7th house), this means you are cursed and could cause your new husband, an early death. The tree comes in to save the day when said bride is thus married to it and then the peepal (banana) tree is cut, which represents the silver or golden idol of the Hindu god Vishnu.

This makes me sad because I imagine that India could use all the trees and the oxygen it can get. I should note that India is trying to abolish as outdated. Actually they are headed in that direction, a former Miss World and national celebrity in India was actually sued by a human rights group for undergoing the ceremony which the group says promotes caste discrimination.

However, thanks to my friend Nardia, I did see online a successful marriage of an Australian woman to the 14th century Le Pont du Diable bridge in France. According to the extremely reputable The Daily Mail “Jodi Rose married Le Pont du Diable Bridge in Céret, southern France after falling head over heels for the ‘sensual’ 14th century stone structure. Ms Rose, or Mrs Le Pont du Diable, has spent the past decade travelling the world recording the vibrations in bridge cables with contact microphones and using them to create experimental music.” I wish I was kidding but sadly, I am not.

Sweden: Yes You May All Kiss The Bride

I love Northern Europe, the sense of humor, the high-quality lifestyle, innovative design and laid-back attitude. The attitude even extends to how they do weddings. One fun tradition involves a whole lot of kissing, when the bride leaves the room, women at the wedding party or Bröllop, literally line up to kiss the groom, and vice versa!

So if you plan on getting married to a Swede, make sure to not invite anyone with a recent cold, or mono, that would really suck!

What About Italy?

For a country that has bizarre rituals like never placing bread upside down or accidentally sweep your boyfriends feet if you’re single (yes, this exists), I was hard-pressed to find any real ‘strange’ wedding traditions in Italy. Yes a couple might get serenaded with Per Cent’anni” which means “for 100 years or you might actually stuff yourself into sickness as in the south you could expect up to 14 courses. Every Italian I’ve been too, food was of the utmost importance and honestly that’s a pretty fab tradition to me, until you have to put your tight pants back on again. My theory is, we have enough weird rituals as it is, just ask my ex-neighbor who’s favorite hobby was staring at me from his balcony in his dirty underwear with a growling pitbull. At least he was consistent. 

Perhaps you guys could help with some wedding rituals in Italy I might not know about.

Dancing was a HUGE part of our wedding. And helped work off that pasta! Photo credit: Francesco Spighi
Dancing was a HUGE part of our wedding. And helped work off that pasta! Photo credit: Francesco Spighi

Don’t forget to check out the hilarious and informative posts by our group of expats who love Italy enough to write about it (C.O.S.I.) as they weigh in on the general topic of “Ridiculous Rituals in Italy”. 

Get ready to laugh, cry and say what? With my fellow Italy round-table comrades! 

Related Posts

16 Responses

  1. I studied in Florence and while I was there my roommate and I visited her family in Abruzzo and learned about a tradition they have. Not sure if this was just in their region/village, or what, but it was really fun and they showed us the home video of it all! The night before the wedding, the groom will come to the bride’s family home along with all of their friends and family to have a block party of sorts in the street outside. There’s singing, music and dancing, all in the purpose of “luring” the bride to the window/balcony, and then eventually down to join the party. I am fairly certain that the bride’s family was also inside the house and one by one they would come out on the balcony, nod their approval and then head down to the party. In my friend’s family’s instance, the groom ended up serenading the bride for several songs from the street and then eventually climbed up the gutter to the balcony! Of course, she welcomed him onto the balcony and then joined the party!

    1. Tracy, thank you so much for your comment and for sharing this story! I think I read something about this online, a sort of public ‘serenade’ that includes the town. That sounds like a whole lotta fun, clearly I need to visit Abruzzo..

    1. Yeah that was a little weird to me too. It seems like more of a ‘ritual’ and ‘song’ than anything really sad but still, who wants to begin their love story like that?

  2. Well done, but the best part of this was you sharing your wedding photos with all of us. Those are fantastic, and what sites, venue, etc. Awesome!

    1. Hello Tony, thank you so much! I am thinking to do a photo blog with the ‘best of’ of our wedding photos since there are so many! Lucky for us, Florence is an incredible backdrop!

  3. Love it Georgette! Fantastic post. I had an unconventional wedding too, dragged my Sicilian man to Oz and took the best bits of the traditions, even ended up being featured in the local newspaper not many Italian/Sicilian/Australian weddings happen in Western Australia ?

    1. Thank you Rochelle! I had a lot of fun writing this and I am STILL looking up crazy traditions online because trust me, there are MANY! I would love to know more about your wedding! Did you write about it?

  4. Re: “my ex-neighbor who’s favorite hobby was staring at me on his balcony in his dirty underwear with a growling pitbull. ” I’m pretty sure you meant to write “….staring at me FROM his balcony….” Otherwise you’ll need to explain to us why you were on his balcony wearing his dirty underwear with a growling pit bull. 😉

  5. Early in the year, I and my honey have a nice trip in Florence. I have a wonderful time in this place for our honeymoon. Thanks you Florence!

  6. I loved all the new and old traditions. Weddings are full of traditions and rituals dated back centuries and often few traditions are same as the old one. I think old traditions are best. Thanks!

    1. I so agree, I am constantly doing wedding research (for this blog) and for my own personal curiosity and wow, there are so so many that I could have added to this list.

Georgette Jupe

Welcome to my personal blog by a curious American girl living and working between Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy with my husband Nico, our newborn Annabelle and Ginger the beagle. This space is primarily to share about my love for Italy (currently on a 13 year romance) with a fair amount of real talk, practical advice, travel suggestions and adjusting to a new culture (Switzerland). Find me on IG @girlinflorence @girlinzug

recent post
Lonely Planet

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.