Fascinating Wedding Traditions From Around the World

From a spectacular baraat entrance to multiple wardrobe changes to the high-flying Hora dance, wedding planners reveal how to add cultural flair to your nuptials.

Around the World: Circular Dances
Almost every culture has their own version of the circle dance, which can be traced back to ancient Greece. One of the most famous is the Italian Tarantella. Participants must hold hands and dance clockwise, changing directions each time the music speeds up. According to tradition, everyone collapses on the floor at the end, although that's unusual for 2015 weddings. "It's a super fun dance to get everyone back on the dance floor after cutting the cake," Domino advises. 

Another fun dance is Gyvataras, a Lithuanian folk dance in which the bride and groom become a human maypole of sorts and the guests circle around them with ribbon and fabric.

circle dance
Photo Credit: Endless Wave Studios

Jewish: The Hora
A traditional folk dance of Eastern European descent to the tune of "Hava Nagila" (which means "let us rejoice"). The strongest men raise the newly-married couple in chairs high above the crowd. Family and friends circle the lifted chairs in a joyous celebration, following a sequence of three steps forward and one step back. Guests of all nationalities are happy to join in this dance.

"While there are few traditions I love more than the Jewish custom of breaking the glass, the Hora beats it every time on the fun scale," Domino says. Allongo believes that this dance embodies incredible symbolism: "First, the bride and groom must put their faith in each other while taking this first unknown adventure together. Second, they must put their faith in the community to support them in the journey, and trust that they will not let them fall. Lastly, everyone realizes that joy, laughter, and happiness can help them get through any situation."

the hora
Photo Credit: Erin Johnson Photography

Jewish: Mitzvah Tantz
In the most traditional Jewish weddings, the custom is to entertain the bride and groom with a dance. "It is considered a mitzvah (a commandment) to bring joy to the newlyweds on their wedding day. This festive tradition includes crazy dance 'performances' by guests wearing masks, hats and sometimes even costumes. The couple sits in chairs facing their entertainers on the dance floor," Samuels explains.

China, Taiwan, Russia and Denmark: Pranks on the Groom
In some cultures, pre-wedding antics are part of the fun. For example, in China and Taiwan, a groom must come to the bride's house and bring her to the ceremony. But before he and his groomsmen are allowed to enter, they must go through a process referred to as "crashing the gate." The bridesmaids present them with a series of crazy, funny, or humiliating challenges to prove the groom's worthiness.

crashing the gate
Photo Credit: Evermore Photography

In Russia, a similar tradition is practiced where someone will "steal" the bride and the groom has to fulfill different tasks in order to get her back. Then, he must pay a ransom in the form of sweets or money to everyone who arranged those obstacles (usually friends and relatives of the bride).

At a traditional Danish wedding, the groom's tie and socks are cut with scissors and the parts are auctioned off to guests!

Britain and Brazil: Gift-Giving Toasts
British and Brazilian newlyweds customarily present gifts to their parents over the course of the reception toasts, and their mothers and fathers typically reciprocate as well.

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► Processions
► Blessings/Rituals
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► Wedding Dances/Antics
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