We love unique and interesting themes here. So we have looked into the different customs and cultures for weddings traditions in Europe and found some very intriguing insights. This can be a great way to honour your heritage, incorporate local customs at a destination wedding, or just be your favourite country. Whatever the reason, you can use these European wedding traditions to add a unique flavour to your special day.
The beautiful country of Greece is known for its rich, ancient history and its magnificent architecture. In addition to the phenomenal views and historical story the Greek wedding traditions are also quite notable to the point that various movies have been made about them in the past.
Greek wedding dances
Greek wedding dances are especially fun and exciting because others can also participate depending on the type of dance you want to be performed. Particularly the traditional Tsamiko dance which is fun for all non-dancers!
Just make sure you put some Greek music to go along with it.
Smashing plates during a wedding reception in Greece has been linked to the ideals of Kefi, a wellness concept that outlines high spirits and fun. In other sources, it also symbolizes good luck and happiness, as well as a long-lasting marriage. It’s a fun cultural staple in Greek tradition that has become iconic in mainstream media.
Want to incorporate a bit of cultural wellness into your wedding? Try this out for size!
Wedding crowns are created to signify the historical tradition of crowning the King and Queen on their wedding day and symbolizing wisdom, justice, and integrity. In addition, the natural branches were also symbolic of Aphrodite, Goddess of love. Historical Greek wedding crowns are typically s made from either olive branches or vines.
An idea to incorporate this tradition: get your best man, and one of the bridesmaids to put this symbolic crown on you and your husband/wife during the ceremony.
France contains one of the most romantic capitals in the entire world; Paris. But aside from this significant city, it holds a list of wholesome and symbolically made French wedding traditions that bring a certain je ne sais quoi to your wedding day.
Union of two families
In France, weddings traditionally do not centre around the bride or groom, and instead, focus on the civility and harmony of the two families from the groom and bride. French weddings are also less-gendered, meaning that when the bride-to-be gets a ring from her groom, then the bride may also offer another type of jewellery or another gift.
The wedding tradition La noce involves guests following the newly-wed bride and groom to the various sites they visit on their wedding day. While guests follow the bride and groom, they also make as much noise as possible as per the French wedding tradition as an act of celebration.
A wedding croquembouche (pronounced Kroh-kuhm-boosh) is an alternative wedding cake. This traditional French dessert is made up of high cones of choux bread filled with pastry cream. With optional chocolate dipping sauce and caramel, decorated with threads of other sweets such as caramel and sweetened almonds.
The reasons many people choose Italy to accommodate their weddings are the gorgeous cities and romantic atmosphere that Rome has to offer. Aside from the city and visual appeal overall, the Italian wedding traditions also deliver a cultural distinction with an essence of sophistication and interest.
No White Dresses
Mainly for guests (but you can always switch things up!) The non-white dress tradition has circulated in Italy for a long time.
If you want your wedding to be more colourful, consider this tradition!
Rice throwing has been a tradition for weddings in Ancient Romanian times. This was done to symbolize fertility for the newly married couple.
La Tarantella is an Italian folk dance that is commonly performed at Italian weddings. It’s similar to a Bunny Hop where people form a line and dance along to the song provided. In this instance, ‘La Tarantella’ requires people to form a circle around the couple and move clockwise whilst dancing, spinning faster as the music tempo goes up.
Spanish weddings usually follow the Catholic tradition, where wedded couples opt for a church wedding as opposed to an outdoor or distinctive type of wedding plan. Spanish weddings are also more lively than your traditional weddings.
Using Orange Blossoms
Orange blossoms are prevalent in Spain, and the presentation of orange blossoms have become a common, yet beautiful tradition in Spanish weddings. For many residents in Spain, orange blossoms are a representation of contentment and a bright future for the newly married couple.
Brighten your wedding up by including orange blossoms in the ceremony.
Wearing Black Dresses
Black dresses are much more common in Spanish weddings than white wedding dresses, at least for Catholic brides. This is because the figurative notion of the colour black represents loyalty and commitment, from the phrase ’til death do us part. Nowadays, the bride may wear black as per tradition, or wear white to get away from it.
Seguidillas Manchegas is a cultural dance number originating in Hispanic traditions. This dance is also often called the money dance, which represents good prosperity in eternity for the wedded couple.
German weddings, like other cultural weddings highlighted in this article, are also filled with special traditions influenced over the years of the country’s progression.
Abducting The Bride
This specific tradition is a widespread German custom for weddings, where brides are abducted before their wedding day. In normal circumstances, the groom’s best man would be tasked with abducting the bride to do a pub crawl, while the bride leaves small clues on where they could be found for the groom.
Bridal Veil Dance
This involves the bridal veil (or something similar in fabric) being held up by all-female guests (including bridesmaids) above the wedded pair. A specific part of the song will have all guests holding the veil to tear a piece each, and according to German legend, whoever tears the biggest piece will be married next!
This is where stoneware or porcelain items are smashed violently (similar to Greece’s tradition) to ward away evil spirits, according to pre-Christian traditions. In some locations in Germany, guests also burn the groom’s trousers or the bride’s bra, symbolizing the end of the bachelor.
Marriage is slightly different in Sweden. Like with other cultures highlighted before this entry, there are some unique Swedish wedding traditions when it comes to celebrating weddings.
In Sweden, the bride and groom kiss other people (as opposed to just each other) on their wedding day. Don’t be alarmed! It’s normal in this country. This tradition simply shares the momentous day with everyone else on a slightly more physical level.
Do you have friends that like to chat? Then consider this tradition in Sweden. Swedish weddings take longer due to the number of speeches given by loved ones. Custom tradition shows over 10 speeches taking place, so if you have friends with embarrassing stories, best to keep them in mind.
Bride & Groom Walks Together Down The Aisle
This cultural addition to the wedding mix sees the bride and groom walking side-by-side down the aisle, breaking the tradition of the father walking their daughter. According to many sources, it seems to symbolize the journey that the bride and groom will take in their marriage.
Austria’s wedding traditions are similar to Germany, with some of their traditions pushing closer to the likes of stealing the bride.
Bridal Shoe Auctioning
Brautschuhversteigerung is a very popular event at Austrian weddings. Like at a real auction, all guests in the wedding can bid on the bride’s shoe – with the father, best man or groom making the final bid.
In some areas of Austria, the morning after the wedding night will see the groom handing a small gift to the bride. It services to financially secure the bride (if anything should happen to the husband). This tradition was implemented in Austrian law until 2009!
Agape is a cultural snack in Austria and is given after the official ceremony. It allows the bride and groom to get some space from the guests while the snack is served to the guests.
Belgium is home to an intriguing culture, containing two linguistic groups (Dutch and French, as well as a small group of German speakers). Belgium’s many wedding traditions come from its long cultural history.
Flowers for Mothers
In this tradition, the bride takes two single flowers to her wedding ceremony – giving the first to her mother, and embracing her afterwards. The bride then presents the groom’s mother with a single flower after the vows are done. This tradition aims to welcome the bride’s acceptance of her new family.
Wedding Seating Plans
Are you into organization and planning? Belgian etiquette contains a strict wedding seating plan that may be fun for you. The plan goes as followed: The most honoured position is at the head of the table (or in the centre), with the important guests seated first to the left, and then to the right of the head of the table.
The bride carries a handkerchief with her name embroidered onto it. This handkerchief is then framed and hung onto the wall of the newly wed’s home. The next female member of the bride’s family to get married will then inherit the handkerchief, with her name becoming embroidered on it – passing down the handkerchief from generation to generation. This is a fun and long-term tradition to withhold for families with mostly female members!
Icelandic wedding traditions are similar to American/UK weddings, with a relaxed attitude towards wedding customs. However, there are some historical features in Icelandic weddings that make them unique to this day.
A Kransakaka is a crumbly and layered pastry that is used as a placeholder for wrapped pieces of candy. This is more of a traditional food served at christenings, confirmations and weddings, but this cultural addition can brighten up your wedding with a traditional Icelandic flair.
Ganga í eina sæng
This tradition sees the couple being blessed in their bridal bed by the pastor while sipping from a shared cup. It also symbolizes togetherness and harmony between the newly married couple.
Portugal, like Spain, also delivers a Catholic-based wedding due to its religious history. Portugal sets itself apart by contributing the following traditions in an otherwise considered Portuguese wedding.
The money dance consists of the groomsmen or any of the young men paying for the privilege of slow dancing with the bride. The money given to the bride is usually donated to a charity of the bride and groom’s choice.
The Great Escape
The great escape will have the groom and bride escaping their own wedding in order to spend the night together. This can be an entertaining part of the event as guests are encouraged to do everything in their power to keep the bride and groom in the venue (from keys to luggage).
There are lots of cultural celebrations you can incorporate into your wedding that can make it more fun and unique. Need any ideas to keep your guests entertained? Take a look at our recent post on wedding reception activities.
Good luck with your wedding plan!
This post was written by Karlo Jacutan, on behalf of Mad Max Adventures. Mad Max Adventures is an outdoor activities organization specializing in stag and hen parties for engaged couples.