At that In-Between Age

Sometimes I write about big sweeping concepts, sometimes this column is about cultural or religious traditions and rituals, and other times there is just something very specific to look at. Today I want to address what role should a pre-teen can play in your wedding?  I’m not referring to the couple’s children, who should have an important role in the event, but rather that special niece or nephew, a close friend’s child, or anyone you wish to include who is too old to be a ring-bearer or flower girl.

Find a meaningful role for this age group.

A ring-bearer or flower girl is typically between about 3 to 7 years old, although often people send younger kids down the aisle, with less than satisfactory results. Teens or young adults are often considered Junior Bridesmaids and Groomsmen and have little distinction from any other Bridesmaid or Groomsman, but what about the pre-teen, those around 8 through 12?

There are several great ways to incorporate this age group.  Here are a few ideas:

They may be a ‘greeter’, one or several of these pre-teens can give out programs, bubbles, water bottles, paper fans, or anything that needs handing out. They can help direct people, especially if there is a water station, coat closet, rest rooms and just about anything that arriving guests might need to know before the ceremony.  If there is a guest book or something to sign or put your fingerprint on – having someone direct people is helpful.

For the girls be sure to encourage a matching dress to make them feel part of the bridal party.

You might have these young people design and put together a children’s table or area for the little ones. They should receive full credit for this chore, which takes quite a bit of responsibility. They may also look after and help entertain any little ones at the party, helping them with coloring or other activities that are at the kids table.

Older children helping younger children is a great idea!

Helping the flower girl or ringer bearer make their way down the aisle is an appropriate job for them. Those very young flower girls and/or ring bearers often have a hard time. Have them escorted by your pre-teen, maybe even pull them in on a wagon.

If you want to have your dog in your wedding, putting a pre-teen in charge of your pet  would also be great, especially if they know and love the dog. They could even walk the dog down the aisle, a more grown-up job than flower girl or ring bearer!

For the more precocious pre-teen, have them read a poem or other type of short reading.

Once they pass the magic age of 13 (give or take) they can be designated as a junior bridesmaid or groomsmen. They’re old enough to stand with you. They should enter in the processional just like anyone else. It’s quite an honor.

                                                                                   Photos by Lisa Rhinehart - gorgeous as always!!   Follow Me on Pinterest 

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Including A Remembrance in Your Wedding

Because a wedding is such an important milestone in life, acknowledging the death of a parent or someone close to you is worth your consideration. Anyone who has experienced a profound loss is thinking of that loved one on their wedding day, wishing they could be with them. Life is complicated, and even at such a joyous time, taking a moment to remember something sad is ok, because it is part of who we are and have become.

Memory pins on the bouquet

There are many ways to approach this idea.

Including a remembrance in the ceremony itself is very appropriate. Simply ask your officiant say something and give her or him some guidance. This is both direct and meaningful. It doesn’t have to be long, a sentence or two will still be effective, and will not over shadow the joy of the day.

Lighting a candle for a deceased loved one is beautiful, but remember – I do not recommend the use of outdoors. It just doesn’t work well and spoils the symbolism when you can’t get the candle lit, it blows out, or you simply can’t really see the beauty of the flame if it’s daylight. Indoors candles are more impressive. If you are outdoors consider using a flower instead. Do this by ceremoniously placing it into a vase, set on your altar table. A nice touch for a bride is to have the special flower designed into your bouquet so it may be easily removed for this purpose. This gesture says ‘you are a part of me.’ A ritual such as this can be done with or without an explanation.

If it is not possible to customize your ceremony, there are alternatives.

You may want to carry a special token of some kind – a tie-tac or cufflink, locket or necklace, or even a small photo. It can be in a bouquet or pocket, carried with you as you walk down the aisle.

Your program booklet is another place to put a remembrance, and even include a photo. Although I’m not big a fan of wedding programs, especially when they don’t add anything to the ceremony experience, when you can include content such as this, then I believe it adds real value.

A table with remembrances on it.

At your reception you can have a table with photos and candles or other remembrance items.

I am also not fond of the empty chair for the deceased. A chair is left empty at the front, signifying the person’s absence and can have something placed on the chair – a photo or flower. For me, it just feels too maudlin, and goes too far in pointing out a loved one’s absence.

This is a very personal and emotional topic and everyone is different. I’ve worked with couples who felt they did not want any acknowledgement of deceased loved ones, and those who wanted quite a bit included.

While your wedding day is a joyous day it is also a time of honesty and meaning, so let those feeling in, but in the right measure, in whatever feels best for you.

Another beautiful example!

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Hispanic Wedding Traditions

I’m posting this from Spain today, so I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to write about some of the many rich, historic traditions for weddings that come from Spanish culture.

Wedding parade in Mexico

Most ceremonies in Spain and the wide-ranging Spanish speaking countries of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central and South America, take place in the Catholic Church. But whether you are to be married in a church or not, you may still be inspired by some of these traditions, or just enjoy learning about them.

One ritual I’ve focused on before is The 13 Coins, or ‘Arras.’ These are coins that are given as a promise to care and support your spouse. There are many ways to interpret this wonderful tradition, and I’ve put a modern twist on it from time to time.

The ‘Lazo’ (or Lasso) is a large rosary, ribbon, rope, or even a rope of flowers, that is wrapped around the necks or shoulders of the bride and groom. It is placed in a figure eight (infinity) shape as the couple kneels at the altar. This affirms their commitment to be side-by-side always. Often a veil is also placed over their heads. In the way many traditions and rituals are similar in differing religions, in the Jewish wedding a tallit (prayer shawl) is also draped over the couple with almost the exact same symbolism of unity.

Another couple in Mexico - how cool is this???

In church the bride will hold a rosary with her bouquet and orange blossoms are the flower of choice for Spanish brides because they symbolize happiness. In the past Spanish brides and grooms would not have groomsmen, ushers, bridesmaids or flower girls. The couple’s grandparents and/or godparents (padrinos) however, will have a role in the wedding! Grandparents and godparents are important Spanish culture. They are ‘sponsors’ which means they get to participate in the ceremony, serve as witnesses for the marriage certificate, and contribute to the financial responsibility of the wedding. On the spiritual side sponsors should help couples through conflicts in their marriage, imparting the wisdom that comes with age.

Today most couples do want bridesmaids and groomsmen. An interesting old tradition had the best man chose the bride’s bouquet, but again, today that won’t fly. However, learning that the bouquet was presented with a poem, some couples want to keep that portion alive and do have the best man deliver a poem. Much like the best man’s speech at the reception, this is simply too fantastic to leave behind.

In 19th Century Spain a bride wore a black gown, symbolizing ‘til death do us part.’  But as the white dress grew in popularity thanks to Queen Victoria’s influence, the black was left behind. But guess what? The black dress is back! It seems that everything comes around. Another popular touch is the mantilla, which is a triangular view trimmed in lace, still popular today.

Grooms in many Latin countries wear the guayabera, a short-sleeved style tropical shirt.

Music can also be a big part of expressing your culture and in some places in Mexico a joyous wedding parade will take place in the streets, complete with mariachi band. I simply adore this tradition!

Out on the street after the ceremony!

In Spain the wedding will usually take much later in the day, around 6 or 7pm, mostly because of the heat, and that makes complete sense, doesn’t it?

Maybe I’ll crash a wedding while I’m here in Spain, and if I do you know I’ll have to write about it.

Thank Jorge for permission use these gorgeous photos! Photo credit: Jorge Santiago Photography

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Wedding Trends for 2015

Once you do your year in review, it’s only natural to think about what’s coming up in the next year. And inquiring couples want to know – what are the trends for 2015? What the media tells me about weddings, and what my couples are telling me, aren’t necessarily the same things. Perhaps its because a more unique couple chooses a celebrant to officiate their wedding, or maybe I just want to think that. More likely the wedding industry decides things differently than actual people.

Either way, here are a few projected trends for 2015.

Every year Pantone (the corporation known for the PMS color system) picks a color of the year. Last year was radiant orchid, and this year they announced aquamarine. A palate consisting of soft, muted hues is expected, mixing the blues with tropical greens and throwing in a bit of toasted almond for contrast. I guess I’ll have to wait to see if real people take follow this plan in coming year.

The pantone color scheme

Many of ‘my’ couples are choosing very unique unity rituals, including versions of the ‘box ritual.’ This is appealing for many reasons, and it can be so uniquely personal. The box ritual has been evolving from the ‘love letters’ ritual – this is the one where each partner writes a letter to the other, to be given to one another just before of their wedding. One variation is to put these letters into a box and to be kept, and opened sometime in the future. Perhaps if they hit a bump in their journey and want to be reminded of what they love about each other, or they could be read on an anniversary, in celebration. Many twists are possible from there. Add a bottle of wine into the box (The Wine Box Ceremony), or another beverage (bourbon, scotch?), special glasses, keepsake items from the wedding, or for a really interesting twist – ask your parents to also write letter to you.

Box Ritual - photo by Wesley Works

Many of the couples I’m working with are choosing unique music for their processional and recessional. It’s a great way to express their style and say something through the lyrics. Anything goes!

In more urban areas the food truck trend is going strong. I’ve heard we have some here in the Poconos, but I’ve yet to see one myself. Interesting idea, though!

Food truck! photo: Michelle Lindsay Photography

Speaking of food, the midnight snack is gaining in popularity. Severing that little extra bit at the end of the night is fantastic.

I’ve long been touting the benefits of dining-style tables, and I’m glad to see the world is finally catching up with me.  Instead of the many round tables, use long, narrow tables, often all connected together. One of the benefits of this style in dining is that it promotes better guest interaction. I also think it looks so cool, and it can save space if needed.

You may also consider serving family style meals, so people can take as much or as little of the entrees and side dish selections as they wish. It’s a great cross between full table service and buffet style.

Edible favors continue to be popular, but taking it up a notch, food kits jammed with all kinds of snacks are all the rage.

Wedding dresses are showing less skin and more lace. Cover shoulders and arms with sheer fabrics and lace – still sensuous but less revealing! I simply love these looks, and how they flatter many body types. Straps instead of strapless can be just as sexy while providing more comfort, confidence and support.

Trends come and go. There are some customs you might to leave behind. Many couple’s are opting out of the bouquet toss, the garter ritual, and the receiving line. The important thing is always to be true to yourself, and make the choices that work for you.

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Highlights from 2014

It’s time for those year-end reviews from everyone else, so why not me? Looking back at my celebrant work in 2014 I’d have to put marriage equality in Pennsylvania at the top of my list. It was in May when Governor Corbett decided not to appeal the ruling that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Without an appeal, the fight was over and Pennsylvania officially became the 19th marriage equality state.

Photo Credit: Garth Woods


This led to a few other highlights because I was then honored to officiate two weddings for close friends, one of them being together for some 20 years. Another wedding included one partner who serves in our military. At this time I have officiated for six same-sex couples and have more coming up.

Other highlights of the year include a gorgeous bride at Mountain Springs Lake Resort in Reeders, arriving on horseback! What an entrance – it was magical. Another memorable couple consisted of a bride who is a U.S. Marshall and her groom, also in law enforcement. Talk about understanding challenges!

Photo by Kiwi Photography

I thoroughly enjoyed working with a groom who is a television producer and a bride who is a doctor – and both were extremely creative. Together they made the world’s most amazing save-the-date video and with their particular quirky sensibility they gave me the freedom to create quite an interesting ceremony. It took place at the Glasbern Inn, a somewhat little known but amazing venue just west of Allentown.

At Glasbern Inn, photo by Matthew Szoke

Speaking of venues, I performed quite a few at my favorite spots the Poconos: The Stroudsmoor Country Inn, Skytop Lodge, The Shawnee Inn, and the afore-mentioned Mountain Springs Lake. Each has something special to offer.

Best date for a wedding was this year: 12/13/14 – so glad I was booked for that. There won’t be another like that in our lifetime!

I performed many elopements this year, especially at my own intimate wedding site, Harmony Gardens. This is exactly why my husband created the garden for me – so we can provide a couple alone, or with just a few guests, with a beautiful ceremony experience. One of those was a couple who called from Philadelphia with quite a story. It seems they had gone to someone to marry just the two of them, and found the minister intoxicated and the whole environment less than appealing. They walked out and started looking around on the internet, found me and called. They drove up the next day and I married them in the garden, and referred them to some great places to stay. They were a stunning amazing couple and I felt a strong connection to them, the ceremony went beautifully and I felt like a real life celebrant super-hero, having saved the day.

At Harmony Gardens, photo by Garth Woods

A few lessons from the year to pass on to you:  if you have an arbor (you are bringing) for an outdoor site, make sure it gets firmly anchored to the ground. Enough said!

If you are getting married outdoors in the summer and there is no shade around, please create some!

And if you are getting married in a rustic outdoor setting please let your guests clearly know, especially letting women know about high heels in the grass and suggest they bring their dress shoes along and change into them for the reception. You’ve got to be specific, folks!

I had a great year working with wonderful, thoughtful, loving couples and look forward doing it all over again in 2015.

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Considering The Butterfly Release

In the middle of the winter, some couples may be dreaming of a summer wedding. One summer ritual is the butterfly release. The beauty, meaning and intent is wonderful. It is not however without controversy, so let’s take a closer look.

Several couple’s I’ve worked with had a butterfly release for their ceremony, and it went well most of the time. The butterflies seemed fine to me. A butterfly release can also be used for funerals, memorials and other types of events.

The box with the butterflies is ready...

The popular background story of this ritual is supposed to be based on a Native American legend, although like many legends from many cultures, the reality is questionable. But whether authentic or not, it is a cool story – so why not? Here’s the purported tale:

According to legend anyone who desires a wish to come true must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. Because a butterfly can not make a sound, the butterfly cannot reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit, who hears and sees all.
 In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.
 So by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish is taken to the heavens and granted. 
I might also add something about the guests’ wishes for the couple, or the couples’ wishes for their future.

There are many ways to infuse a variety of meanings into this ritual because butterflies also represent hope, new life, peace, and a connection to nature. Knowing that butterflies go through the process of metamorphosis, serves as excellent symbolism, as does the idea of taking flight.

... and out they go!

Some people find the butterfly release objectionable because the butterflies are bred and shipped (overnight) in envelopes, and kept cool until just before their release. Does a butterfly feel any discomfort from this? I have no idea. Are butterflies injured or killed in this process? According to the companies that provide them – less than 1% – but it is certainly in their own self-interest to say that. PETA (People for the Ethnical Treatment of Animals) objects to it, and while some find PETA rather extreme, it’s worth at least listening to their concerns. PETA wisely reminds us that butterflies are living things and not merely decorations.

To the credit of these companies selling the butterflies, they do give very clear instructions about the season, climate, and shipping, to insure both safety and success. It is up to you, the consumer, to be very mindful of those instructions. Monarchs are used, and the sellers claim they are hardy. Butterflies are cold-blooded which means they take on the temperature of their surroundings. They move slower in the cold, and faster in the warmth, so keeping them cool in shipping and holding time is how and why this process works. About 20 minutes before their release you unpack them and let them warm up to the outdoor temperature.

I’ve seen and heard about both good and disappointing results, and my recommendation is that for the ritual to be fully visually pleasing and exciting you really need to purchase quite a lot of butterflies. The beautiful photos are from a recent couple I officiated for – their release went beautifully!

..and a beautiful, happy bride!

Dove releases have similar pros and cons as butterflies. I’ve observed that people who work with the doves have a passion for it, and these homing pigeons have been used for centuries, and kept as pets and working birds. But similar questions might come into play. A reputable bird handler would not jeopardize their birds, they love them, and the pigeons will fly back to their home to roost.

There are many cool rituals for the end of a wedding ceremony used to send the couple down the aisle with a visual bang. Consider the traditional rice, birdseed, confetti, or petal tossing, as well as bubbles. You can jump the broom, jump the oak branch, ring bells, break the glass, or have confetti cannons! Sparklers are nice, but only if it’s dark outside.

Butterflies are one of these ‘end of ceremony’ rituals, but only you can decide if its right for you.

photos by  Sabrina Schantzen Photography

Thank you Sabrina!

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Strange Holiday Traditions

Last week I wrote about infusing your holiday with your own personal rituals, and the potential to create new traditions for yourself or your family. Another recent offering was about unusual wedding traditions around the world. So I now present the mash-up: unusual holiday traditions from around the world.

I did find one specific connection between the holiday and the wedding weirdness: single woman in Czechoslovakia can predict if they will be married in the coming year by throwing a shoe over their shoulder at Christmas time. To insure the accuracy of this, because obviously this will work, she must stand with her back to the door of her house, if the shoe lands with the heel towards the door, there will be no marriage in the coming year!

This would be pretty frightening for young children!

Old image of Krampus.

We know that Santa Claus, or Saint Nick, goes by many names and takes many forms around the world. Perhaps the strangest variation is Krampus! Krampus is a beast-like creature who punishes or rewards children at Christmas time (apparently he, too, knows if you’ve been bad or good). This demon-like creature has roots in Germanic folklore and is still somewhat popular in that region. While in Norway it is very common to have a family-member dress as Julenissen (Santa Claus) and visit the home on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts, so to, do people dress up as Krampus!  By the way, gifts are delivered and opened on Christmas eve in Norway because obviously Santa starts his journey there and must get a good early start to get to us here before morning.

I had to check and re-check this one because it just seems so wrong, but in Japan the fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken is a traditional Christmas feast. Because some Asian countries have a fascination with western traditions, KFC managed to capitalize on that by claiming that fried chicken is the traditional Christmas meal. Yum?

Merry Christmas in Japan.

In the Ukraine spider webs are used to decorate the Christmas tree. The legend behind this tells of a poor family, unable to decorate their tree, came home to find that spiders, hearing the family’s cries, decorated the tree with their webs. The legend continues that on Christmas morning the webs turned to gold and silver, and the family was saved.  Spider web decorations are not real either, in case you were wondering.

In Venezuela when people attend mass at Christmas time, they do so on roller skates! The streets in Caracas are closed off between December 16 and 24 for roller skaters on their way to church!

In the interest of inclusion I tried to find strange Hanukkah traditions, but came up with nothing. Perhaps the latkes and derides are strange enough on their own. But don’t forget the humorous faux holiday ‘festivus’ or last year’s moniker: ‘Thanksgivukkah,’ used when Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving.

There are, of course, many more odd traditions around the world. We have one of our own here in the USA – the yule log on television! You don’t have to admit it, but perhaps you have had your tv tuned to the yule log, too. Kind of strange, but fun.







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Create your Own Rituals of the Holiday Season

With the holiday season upon us – I’m taking a break this week from the wedding part of wedding talk, but today’s column still includes something I write about often: ritual. And what could be more ritualistic than Christmas or Hanukkah (or Kwanzaa, or Solstice, or New Years)?  From the more secular parts such as the Christmas tree and gift exchanging to the most holy and sacred acts of worship – the holiday season is replete with customs, traditions and rituals. Lighting candles, decorating trees, even wrapping gifts becomes meaningful when it is done every year, just as your parents did, and their parents before them.

A beautiful winter photograph by Rob Lettieri

I look at it this way: old or ancient customs connect us to the continuity of life, to our faith or cultural past. New traditions bring closeness within our own families and communities right here and now. After all, sometimes those same traditions over and over can get boring. While wrapping gifts may be joyful to some people, it may be a dreaded chore to others.

Wouldn’t it be great to have your very own ritual to develop and pass down through generations? Some families do have their very own traditions, but if you don’t, you have the opportunity to start your own. Here are a few ideas that might inspire!

Explore world customs and make ornaments, food, or craft projects that reflect another culture. How about eating latkes for a special Christmas meal. Or expand your cultural awareness with the Fest of the Seven Fishes, if you’re not Italian and already doing this, that is. You don’t have to be Latino to enjoy tostones (fried plantains) or a coquito, which is similar to eggnog with rum. You get the idea!

Giving to others is always important. Have your family conduct a food or coat drive, or buy gifts to donate to a local shelter. Before donating anything, be sure to check first to see exactly what they need. Remember, it’s not what you want to donate, its what they truly need. Gift cards are often perfect because they offer people the opportunity purchase what is truly needed. Adopt any cause that resonates for you, and do something relevant every year.

Start a tradition of reading. Choose a classic such as the wonderful O. Henry story The Gift of the Magi, or poems, chapter books, or really anything, but try to pick something that might take you out of your comfort zone. Everyone will be more open hearing the book when it’s done together as a group activity. Whether it’s after the candles are lit for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, or for the 12 days of Christmas, read a chapter each night.

Reading for the holiday.

Learn to sing songs together. Not everyone is musical but most can still muster up a few tunes with the family. Sing it loud, sing it proud, and sing it every year!

Have computer savvy young people start an on-line holiday remembrance tradition, using photos or video. Mix it up with quotes from the family and the famous. Make note of favorite foods, best moments and even a few, bloopers (but not too many, don’t embarrass anyone).

These are just a few ideas, and ideas are free so I hope you will dream up your own and begin your personal rituals to add depth and tradition to your holiday season.

 The gorgeous christmas tree photo is by Rob Lettieri

and the book photos by our go-to great photographer Lisa Rhinehart

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Weddings and families – it can be complicated

Handling complicated family issues for your wedding

If you are planning a wedding, especially for the first time, you may have already discovered that this big day isn’t just about the two of you! A marriage is about the joining of two families and that can take many shapes and forms. Even in an ideal situation, where everyone gets along, there is still much to consider and conflicts that may arise. Family is inherently complicated.

Couples need to remember how important this day is to their parents and especially mothers. It is a day they, too, may have dreamed of, something they imagined helping with, emotionally and financially.

A big day for both mother and daughter.

On the positive side, a lifetime of support from one’s parents is something that deserves recognition. There are many ways to do this, and whether within the ceremony itself, or at the reception, saying ‘thank you’ is very important. You might include something in a wedding program (and it’s a good reason to have one) – especially if it’s not possible to customize your ceremony. Perhaps consider having both parents walk with you down the aisle, or a rose presentation for your mothers as a symbolic ‘thank you’.

What if your family situation is not healthy or less than ideal? This needs to be carefully navigated, but even with dysfunctional relationships, it can still be powerful to include something, but this is not always possible or even desirable, it really depends on the exact circumstances.

If mom raised you on her own – acknowledge and honor her for that amazing accomplishment, but does an absent dad need to be mentioned? There is a huge continuum, ranging from an uninvolved parent to an abusive parent and everything in between. If a parent was not at all present for your upbringing I can see no reason to mention, let alone honor, that parent.

Is there a parent or stepparent with whom you struggled? Where you a difficult teen? Now as an adult you may see things differently. Take the time to say this as well. I know this it isn’t an easy topic, but I do believe it warrants examination.

The big moment with dad.

When parents are paying for everything they sometimes feel entitled to control everything. Before taking one single step in wedding planning, if your parents are paying – sit down and have an honest conversation with them. And conversely, parents – step back and take a good look at yourselves and your expectations. All parties must figure out what they can let go of, whether it’s the menu or even the choice of venue, and what you can’t. Guest lists can be a sticking point. Be flexible.

Sort out your roles right from the start. Don’t jump in too quickly, which is easy to do. With something as important as a wedding, having those conversations first will make a big difference.

I often hear that wedding planning was much more difficult than anticipated. Be prepared, have good boundaries, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Let your family help and honor them for it. A wedding is a time to say the things that often go unsaid. It is an important transition in life. Honor it accordingly, and give thanks.

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart  for your gorgeous photos!

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Wedding Traditions from Around the World.

Regular readers of ‘wedding talk’ know my interest, even fascination, with all kinds of rituals and traditions. Today I thought I’d take a quick trip around the world and look at just some of the more obscure wedding customs.

Friends Danielle & Raj with their change of clothes (Photo credit: Bill Cardoni)

In South Asian weddings, the bridesmaids steal the groom’s shoes and hide them on the day of the wedding, forcing him to be shoeless at the reception. The younger guests then negotiate with him (for money!) for the shoes return. Kind of fun, don’t you think?

Also South Asian is a custom I simply love. The two family sides enter into an intense sing-off. They sit gathered around a drum and take turns singing songs. I’m not entirely clear about the criteria, but apparently the side that sings loudest usually wins.

In Danish weddings, if the bride or groom leaves the other’s side, the remaining partner gets swarmed with kisses from the wedding party until their better half returns.

An old Scottish tradition involves dumping flour, tar, spoiled food (and whatever else you can get their hands on) on the bride and groom. The ritual is meant to ward off evil spirits. Yuk! There are several other traditions with the same intent. Some say the same thing about the ‘breaking of the glass’ in a Jewish wedding. The wearing of a veil is meant to protect the bride.

Photographic evidence of this strange tradition.

In Korea, married friends of the groom carve wooden ducks for the married couple, meant to symbolize marital harmony. Sweet. Another Korean custom is that after the ceremony friends of the groom take off his socks, tie a rope around his ankles and beat the soles of his feet with dried fish. This is meant to make the groom stronger before the wedding night. Not so sweet. I’m not sure about the effectiveness of this custom, but it’s an unusual one for sure. Koreans also say that smiling a lot at the wedding brings a daughter for your firstborn.

An example of the ducks.

In Yemen, the groom’s father throws raisins on the ground for guests to pick up. Raisins are meant to symbolize happiness for the happy couple. Ok.

Japanese brides are sometimes painted pure white from head to toe, declaring she is a maiden (i.e. virgin). While the painting part is not as popular anymore, wearing a white kimono and an elaborate headpiece is still common. During the ceremony, the bride puts on a white hood to hide her ‘horns of jealousy’  - the jealousy that she feels toward her mother-in-law, and to show her resolve to become a gentle, obedient wife. I hope that one is going out of fashion. To symbolize their union, the couple drinks sake together, becoming husband and wife once they take the first sip. I would love to incorporate that one into anyone’s ceremony. And brides have quite a few changes of clothing during the reception, first changing into a red kimono and then later into a Western-style dress.

Changing outfits is popular in many cultures and especially when couples are honoring two different cultures (see photo of my friends Danielle & Raj)  I see wardrobe changes becoming even more  popular.

Traditional Japanese bride.

In Italy the bride is supposed to wear green the night before the wedding for good luck. Wearing purple is to be avoided. In southern Italy there are no weddings in May, because that brings bad luck.

As symbol of being married people in India wear toe rings. During the wedding ceremony the groom puts the toe ring on the second toe of bride’s foot while she holds her foot on a ceremonial grinding stone. I’m not clear about the meaning of the stone, but I love the toe ring part.

These are just a few unusual customs, but remember, they are only strange to us. They may be odd or fun or even taken with a grain of salt (that’s another custom, of course) but not strange to for those within that culture. I probably cannot incorporate most of these into my western style ceremonies, but I find it fun to learn about them. There are many, many more strange wedding traditions around the world.


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Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
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    Lois Heckman

    Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies in the Poconos and beyond. She has performed hundreds of ceremonies and brings a wealth of knowledge to her work. Follow her on Pinterest, ... Read Full
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