The weather is heating up, the birds are singing and trips to the seaside are becoming a weekly endeavour. This can only mean one thing – the main season for weddings is getting fully underway.
All around the world, brides and grooms to-be are getting the finishing touches of their weddings finalised, whilst looking forward to spending time with their friends, families and most importantly, each other. Oh, and we can’t forget the ultimate honeymoons due to come afterwards, can we?
My fiance and I got engaged abroad 3 months ago surrounded by the cold landscapes and snowy mountains of Iceland. This of course means that I’m starting to think about ‘the big day’ and how ours should be spent.
Enter my fellow travel bloggers with their ultimate in wedding inspiration – weddings from around the world. Some are more traditional than others, some have entered the world of elopements, whilst others have found themselves part of unexpected and different cultures and traditions!
In this article, we’ve pieced together weddings from nearly every continent (we’re just missing Oceania and Antarctica). So if you’re looking for some wedding inspiration, then feel free to have a browse through the whole lot.
Or, if you’re after something more specific, here are some handy bookmarks to help you navigate this beast of a collaboration:
Weddings from around the World: Asia
My husband is Laotian but grew up in America. We had our formal wedding in Jamaica, but we were fortunate to be able to visit his hometown of Laos a few months after, where we were able to have a Laotian wedding with his family.
There are many traditions that differ from an American ceremony. The bride is dressed in a traditional Lao silk skirt and blouse, and has her hair tied up with gold decoration. The groom wears a white or cream silk shirt and salongs, similar to peasant pants.
During the ceremony, the bride and groom sit on the floor, around a handmade marigold pyramid that is decorated with flowers and money. The Phone Khuane, an elder in the community, leads the ceremony and ties threads around the wrists of the bride and groom. The wrist-tying, which signifies a long-lasting marriage, money, and good fortune, continues with everyone at the ceremony, a way for the guests to give their good wishes to the couple.
There is a superstition that the bride and groom should keep the strings on their wrist for at least 3 days in order for the wishes to come true. Another big part of the ceremony is the giving of 2 eggs, a sign of fertility. Once everyone has tied strings around the bride and groom, everyone eats and drinks!
By Tarah & Tip – Fit Two Travel
India is a land of many traditions, cultures and customs. Every 200km welcomes you into another culturally diverse place. Even in Southern Indian weddings there are different customs that are followed in each state that are way different than others. A few of the rituals that are usually followed in Karnataka are:
Kashi Yatra: Kashi is the ultimate pilgrimage spot for all Hindus. Undertaking Kashi Yatra will help one attain salvation (Moksha). The groom here tries to go to Kashi for a pilgrimage, only to be intervened by the bride’s father. The bride’s father then tells him that having a family is the first step, followed by going on a pilgrimage as a couple at a later stage.
Kanyadana: During South Indian weddings, the groom and the bride are considered Lakshmi-Narayana – the Hindu deities. This ritual is to welcome the new bride to the family. This actually means that the groom and bride are taking each other lawfully, to enter their new phase of lives as newlyweds.
Saptapadi: The newlyweds take seven steps around the holy fire. With each step they take a vow to keep each other happy and promise to be there for each other.
Vidaai/Bidaai: A tearful ceremony at the end where the girl’s family bids farewell to her as she leaves to be a part of the groom’s family. With or without the ceremony, every bride and her family feels emotional and overwhelmed at this stage.
The groom wears a panche, which is a silk robe. And the bride wears a silk saree, both a traditional attire as per Hindu culture. The food also varies according to each state, with local foods and recipes gaining priority in the extravagant platter served on a banana leaf to the guests.
No wonder our country is a big unity in diversity!
Within Sri Lanka, a traditional Sinhalese wedding is known as a “Poruwa Ceremony”, named for the decorated wooden platform that the bride and groom stand on to exchange their vows.
The brides wear ivory and pose for photographs, just like they traditionally do within Western cultures. However, there are of course some major differences between a Sinhalese wedding and a Western one.
When the bride and groom come together at the “Poruwa”, they greet each other by holding their palms together. They are then presented with betel leaves, which are then placed on the “Poruwa”. During the ceremony, the bride is given a golden necklace by the groom, and their little fingers are tied together with a single golden thread. This is said to symbolise unity.
A traditional Buddhist chant is sung to bless the marriage, and the bride’s mother will present a bowl of milk rice to the couple. What I love most about this culture is that it ends with the groom’s family breaking open a fresh coconut for the couple to eat and drink from. For me, this is how you’ll know you’ve witnessed a truly exotic and tropical wedding.
Clelia Mattana from Keep Calm and Travel was one such travel blogger who had the pleasure of witnessing a Sinhalese wedding first hand. To read more about her experience, check out her Sri Lanka in 8 days article.
Words by Justine Cross – Wanderer of the World
Our friends’ wedding (in Chiang Mai, Thailand) took place at a very beautiful and upscale hotel as opposed to having it at someone’s home. They blended a little bit of a Western feel but it was mostly done in a traditional Thai manner.
The most noticeable difference is, of course, the attire worn by the bride and groom. They wore traditional Thai clothing for their ceremony and did not change to Western attire for the reception (though some people do). I was surprised that the brides usually rent out their Thai-style wedding dress so it’s not kept like in Western cultures.
One of the most beautiful traditions in a Thai wedding is the Sai Monkhon. Two headpieces (blessed by monks) attached by a long string (made from one piece of cotton) are placed on the bride and groom’s head by a family member who has a successful marriage, whilst the bride and groom kneel next to each other. The string literally joins them together and is worn throughout the ceremony.
At the end of the ceremony, guests are invited to come up and congratulate the newlyweds by tying a bracelet made from cotton around the wrists of the couple as they wish them blessings and a happy life together.
By Taiss Nowrouzi – Together To Wherever
I never meant to attend an Uzbek wedding. But there I was with my friends, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on an evening stroll in attempt to discover the source of the ear-splitting music that could be heard all over town. We were immediately ushered into a wedding reception containing at least 600 people, seated at a table covered in platters of food, and instantly force-fed vodka shots. After a once over of the enormous, lavish reception, I noticed the bride and groom were actually dressed in traditional western wedding garb.
I did note a couple of major differences from western weddings and receptions. The bride and groom were both very young, which is common in Uzbekistan. There was plenty of dancing; however, traditionally the men throw money when the women dance (but not for the reasons men throw money at dancing women in the western world). And the vodka. It was bottomless and free flowing. Your glass would never be short a sip. The reception was extremely opulent, but the one factor that really made this point ring true was the wedding cake. There were tiers of aquarium with live fish inside.
By Cali O’Connor – Cali On The Go
Weddings from around the World: Europe
If you are to think about a quintessentially English wedding, then you will most likely think of the summer season, pretty pink confetti and the colour white. And you’d be right to do so. But what about a less traditional English wedding?
My best friend’s wedding was just that. She had some of the traditions of wearing a white wedding dress, getting married in a church and employing bridesmaids to help her get ready. But she also made her day her own in some fantastic ways.
She created her own bridal bouquet from flowers picked from her garden, built a marquee in the middle of the countryside to serve a buffet from, and arrived to her wedding driving a steam engine. Yes, that’s right – a steam engine. With her bridesmaids being towed on the back of it!
For me though, what made this wedding truly magical was the buffet. You all know I’m a huge food lover! And when that food includes some totally traditional English foods, well then I’m definitely sold! I will always remember how beautiful she’d made the buffet look – from bright red strawberries and fresh cream, to meaty pork pies and posh finger sandwiches – she’d made a real effort. And of course, she’d completed the handmade vibe of her wedding by hanging some pretty bunting she’d spent a lot of time making.
Although this wedding would be classed as less traditional than most English weddings, each specially crafted part of it was actually very traditional. Nothing speaks to the quintessential English theme than strawberries and cream, finger sandwiches and bunting!
By Justine Cross – Wanderer of the World
My wedding was in the Netherlands. Although I’m not Dutch (and neither is my husband), we researched Dutch wedding traditions to try to incorporate a few into our wedding.
This includes serving the cake before a proper meal, which is a sweet start to a marriage. Similarly, brides are given something that is called “Bride’s Tears.” It’s an old traditional drink made from spices, cinnamon liquor, and gold flakes and it’s intended to be served every time that the couple gets into a fight.
The husband is supposed to drink it as a reminder of the tears of joy that the bride cried on her wedding day. (We both found the liquor partially terrible to drink, but maybe that’s the point.)
Our wedding was fairly nontraditional and I wore a modern white dress, which surprised our American photographer who wasn’t sure that people would realise that we were getting married based on our clothes. But people routinely came to us to congratulate us in Dutch as Dutch weddings are less formal than American weddings. If you see a bride/groom in the Netherlands, say Gefeliciteerd!
By Karen – Wanderlustingk
Weddings from around the World: North America
I met my husband in San Francisco (June 21, actually) seven years ago and we got engaged after a year and a half right where we met, in Alamo Square Park (where the famous Painted Ladies are).
However, my sweet time as a fiancée came to an abrupt halt with my father’s arrival, who as a 60+ Indian man, was not very happy with the two of us living under one roof in extreme SIN. His persistent nagging (and he is very good at that) made us scramble for last minute wedding arrangements in a record 10 days.
Everything fell into place miraculously as I found a wedding Sari (the piece of cloth that Indian women wrap around themselves), got a blouse tailored to go with it, a photographer that we really liked, a luncheon place and finally, a wedding venue.
A huge thanks to the state of California for sanctioning same day wedding licenses which we duly got from the City Hall. Since neither of us are religious, we opted for a civil ceremony and got an officiant for D-day. Finally, after several last minute calls, we managed to get a motley crew of sixteen people who loved us enough to show up at the wedding on such a joke of a notice.
We got married in 2011, on the warmest day of the year in October at a beautiful flower conservatory in San Francisco. Although the wedding lasted for fifteen minutes, (as civil ceremonies do and ended with perfunctory I dos and exchange of rings), I managed to incorporate one Hindu tradition of adding the vermilion to the bride’s forehead by the groom to this short affair.
Clutching on to my mother’s vermilion box (which she held on to for her wedding), this was my way to pay ode to my roots and to my mother, who had passed away a year ago. I could feel her presence around me that day, showering me with her love and blessings as I took my first step towards this new phase in my life.
By Paroma Chakravarty – Year of the Monkey
A few months ago, I was happy to have a traditional Mexican wedding in the capital of Mexico – Mexico City. I was born and raised in cold Russia, but my husband is originally from Mexico City – so we decided to have two weddings – one in Mexico and one in Russia.
Mexican weddings are amazing – they are massive, they are fun and literally, everybody is invited to them. We had around 55 guests and everybody was telling me how nice and homey and tiny this wedding feels. Usually, you can see up to 1000 guests at a wedding in Mexico – and you’ll meet everyone – from a dentist of the sister of your mother-in-law to the chef of a restaurant located close to your husband’s house.
In Mexico, everybody drinks a lot at the weddings and the most popular drink is, of course, tequila. Everybody chooses their own music and entertainment, but there is a lot of dancing going on – and usually, the oldest generation is the most active! Traditionally, the weddings take place in a Hacienda – a restaurant with a garden, so everybody can go outside and enjoy the nice weather in the garden. However, there are exceptions – some weddings are so big, that they require a special place.
By Liza Kripka – Tripsget
Never ones to conform, Craig and I ditched the big Scottish wedding in the church hall and the stupidly overpriced party where you have to spend £55 per head on food for people you speak to once every ten years, in favour of an elopement.
Our destination of choice? Austin, Texas baby.
We partied at the annual music festival South By Southwest in March 2016 (there are festivals in Austin all year round), then the next day married at Lou Neff Point which is a free venue along the riverfront. I wore yellow, Craig wore blue.
After city wedding snaps in front of Austin’s famous street art we dined then danced at the DJ, Junior Boys. The average UK wedding costs £27,000 – we travelled around the Americas and Europe for the same price and got hitched along the way.
By Gemma – Two Scots Abroad
Weddings from around the World: South America
The first wedding I’ve been to in Colombia happened to be my own wedding! I had no idea what to expect as all of the planning had been done by my in-laws to-be. All I knew was that I was supposed to show up, wearing a white dress! I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the wedding planning skills of my new family! Overall, the whole wedding day didn’t seem extremely different from what I am used to in the Netherlands, so I’m guessing it is all pretty westernised.
We had the official part of the wedding in the morning, taking place in a solicitor’s office. Traditional Colombian weddings can have a large part taking place in the church, but since I am not Catholic, this option was not available to us. After the civil wedding, we went for lunch in a fancy restaurant with both of our parents. We had a private space to ourselves that was beautifully decorated with flowers. In the afternoon, we went to our evening location, where we had a photo shoot in the exotic garden before the guests arrived. The rest of the afternoon and evening included food, lots of drinks, and of course dancing! It was a Colombian wedding after all!
I have since attended one more Colombian wedding, which had the civil wedding take place in a beautiful garden setting. Afterwards, there were lunch and drinks provided and there was dancing at the same location. Colombians love drinking and socialising, and weddings are just another opportunity for them to do exactly that!
By Rianne Sonneveld – Sunny Journeys
I hope you’ve enjoyed this epic piece of inspiration of weddings from around the world. Which was your favourite? And where has been your best place to attend a wedding, or have your own? Feel free to share your happy memories in the comments below…
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