How Weddings are Celebrated Differently Across the World

Zulu wedding

Weddings have been around since approximately 2350 B.C. and since then, different cultures and religions have added their own traditions to this ceremony – making a world of beautiful and unique memories. Worldwide, it is estimated that, on any given day, 115,000 weddings occur

Whether traditions involve encouraging good luck for newly-weds, or celebrating unity in unique ways, looking at the variety of weddings which occur, and their traditions, can help bring inspiration for beautiful moments within your own ceremonies. 

Here, we will explore some traditions from across the world when it comes to the big day. 

Zulu weddings

One of the longest wedding ceremonies is the Zulu wedding, which can take almost a full day to complete. This involves multiple meetings between families and the newly-weds, including discussions for the future of their relationship and honouring ancestors. The event is such a spectacle, that the bride doesn’t just adorn one wedding outfit, but in fact must change into three separate pieces in order to prove her beauty within different clothing to her new husband’s family. 

As tradition dictates, elders and women have the most prominence. It is the women who initiate a marriage, and the groom is the last called within the ceremony. Zulu weddings also involve dancing and singing as a sign of appreciation. 

Nikah ceremony

One of the shortest wedding ceremonies you can attend is a Muslim wedding. These weddings aren’t dictated by culture but religion, and with Islam being a prominent religion in approximately 50 countries, you could find a wide variety of diversity here. With over 1.9 million people practicing Islam across the world, these weddings can vary greatly in tradition, but the fundamental format of Muslim weddings remain. 

The shortest Muslim wedding, the Nikah, is generally split into three parts: the Mehr, in which gifts are given to the marrying couple, the Nikah-Namah, which involves signing the marriage contract and readings from the Qur’an, and the Savaqah, which involves guests showering the bride in coins as they wedded couple leave. 

Tradition dictates that the bride doesn’t need to attend the Nikah-Namah, if she sends two male witnesses to sign in her place. 

As with any wedding traditions, these vary across cultures. In South Asia, the Muslim wedding tradition of Mehndi, decorating the skin with turmeric paste before the wedding, is common practice. Whereas, in Arab pre-wedding tradition, the groom will ask for the bride’s hand in marriage, called Tolbe, and at this point a prayer to Allah will be read from the Qur’an. 

United Kingdom weddings

While many of the English counties might traditionally encourage weddings in a church, followed by a reception, there are some counties which embrace their own additional traditions.

Did you know a Northumberland wedding has its own ritual called the sand ceremony? This involves the marrying couple pouring two different coloured sands into a container. This symbolises their unity and love for one another – a beautiful tradition born from the beautiful Northumberland coast lines. 

Scotland have their own wedding traditions, including their beautiful kilts which resemble households with their unique tartan designs. Some weddings also include specialised dances during the reception and bonding traditions, such as drinking from the quaich, which symbolises trust in the marriage. 

Spanish and Latin American wedding traditions

Full of love and colour, Spanish wedding traditions are an experience to enjoy and many have family at their heart. From the bride’s father hiding the bride from the groom the night before the wedding, to the flower girl and ring bearer dressing in clothes that replicates the newly-weds, there’s something unique about the Spanish outlook. 

Many wedding traditions involve money. In Latin American culture, there is the tradition of Las Arras (gold coins). Financial sponsors of the wedding, who can be any number of people within the family, have gold coins which they present to the bride on the day as a promise of care from the groom.

There are 13 of these gold coins, all blessed by a priest, to represent Jesus and his 12 disciples.

All over the world, weddings symbolise love, unity, and future wealth and each culture, faith, country, and even individual families have their own variation of this celebration. 

No couple has the same wedding as it is a unique time, yet the fundamentals of unity remain. Looking to how others celebrate this big day can bring inspiration to your own wedding planning and how best to represent the love of you and your partner. 

Whether this is joining families in sand, representing and honouring ancestry, or spending a full day celebrating, everyone has their own ways and means of celebrating their special day.