This month saw the biggest wedding of the year so far when Pippa Middleton said ‘I do’ in front of everyone from Princes William and Harry to Roger Federer, and the British public gushed with happiness. So we thought that it’s the perfect time to post our global guide to tying the knot.
Whether it’s ‘lassoing’ the happy couple together, making their bed and showering it with money or partying until sunrise, there are loads of other brilliant wedding celebrations around the world. Enjoy!
In Nigeria, your big day really is a big day – it’s not unheard of for 1,000 people to turn up for the wedding. And don’t worry if you’re invited but don’t know what to wear – many families opt for aso-ebi, which means ‘family clothes’ in Yoruba. The bride and groom’s female relatives each decide on a fabric and circulate it around their respective family (and often friends too) ahead of the wedding. Guests then have the fabric made up in the style of their choice for matching celebratory looks – check out the photos on our Nigerian weddings blog!
Celebrations begin with the krevati, or bed-making ceremony. A couple of days before the wedding, the bride’s unmarried female friends make the couple’s bed and shower it with rice, sugared almonds and money. Sometimes a baby is briefly placed on the bed as well – a boy if the couple want their first baby to be a boy, a girl if they want a girl. The wedding itself is usually a lavish affair, with lashings of food, drink and traditional dancing, with money often pinned to the bride’s dress.
You’ll hear an Egyptian wedding party long before you see it, with honking horns announcing the arrival of the bride and groom. Celebrations kick off with the zaffa, a noisy procession of singers, musicians and drummers escorting the couple and their family into the reception. The newlyweds, with the bride in white, take their seats of honour on thrones and feed each other sharbat, a sweet drink. There’s usually a lot of people, food, music and dancing, and maybe even a belly dancer if you’re lucky.
Home to a host of different religions and cultures, India has a wonderfully varied array of wedding rituals. Standout customs include the groom arriving at the bride’s home on the back of a white horse, with his whole entourage in tow. Celebrations can last for several days but the climax of all Hindu ceremonies is the saptapadi, a seven-step ritual performed near a fire with each step corresponding to a vow the couple make. After the vows, the bride and groom circle the fire with their garments tied together.
Mexican couples may find themselves ‘lassoed’ together with a wreath of orange blossoms or a special long rosary during the wedding Mass. The couple’s friends link them together in a figure of eight after they’ve made their vows. In addition, the groom sometimes hands the bride 13 gold coins, symbolising both Jesus and his 12 disciples and the groom’s ability to support his bride. The party goes on late into the night – or sometimes until sunrise. In this case, a levanta muertos (waking the dead) meal is served in the early hours to give guests the strength to keep on partying.
Traditional Shinto ceremonies have lost out in the popularity stakes to Christian-style weddings in recent years – even though only one to two per cent of Japanese are actually Christian – but they’re still a splendid sight. The ceremony takes place in a shrine, with the bride in a white kimono, and rituals include the san-san-kuso: the bride, groom and both sets of parents each take three sips of saké from three cups. Couples who choose secular or Christian weddings can still include this ritual in their day.
Expect to eat well at a Polish wedding. Along with songs and dancing, festivities include food… and more food, washed down with lashings of vodka. Things start more soberly when, following a Catholic ceremony, the bride and groom’s parents greet the couple at the reception with bread sprinkled with salt, and wine. The bread and wine symbolise abundance and happiness, while salt represents potential hardships. At midnight, the newlyweds throw their veil and tie to the guests. It’s said that whoever catches them will be the next to marry!
British celebrations often kick off with booze-fuelled single-sex parties a few nights before the big day: men gather for a stag night, while women meet for a hen night. After a religious or secular ceremony, guests gather for a reception that features speeches alongside the food and drink. The best man’s speech is usually the highlight (or lowlight), littered with embarrassing stories about the groom. Formalities over, young and old head for the dancefloor to try out their moves to cheesy disco tracks. You’ve been warned!
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