10 Wedding Traditions You Didn't Know Existed

(Photo credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Think of a wedding and a few things might come to mind: a white dress, vows, cake, the Electric Slide. But what about the wedding traditions that go against the grain? Traditions we might not see on TV or at our family friend’s daughter’s wedding in the Hamptons? Well, brace yourself, because here’s a list of the most interesting, untraditional wedding customs you never knew existed:

1. A Whale of a Tale: In Kenya, before a couple gets engaged, it’s common for a suitor to present the father-of-the-bride with a whale tooth.

2. A Smashing Good Time: In Germany, a bride and groom participate in the tradition of “Polteraband,” where guests give plates and pots as gifts…and the newlyweds smash them right in front of their faces.

3. The Shoe Thief: Keep track of your shoes at a wedding in India, where it is customary for a bride and her family to try to steal the groom’s shoes.

4. Whack-A-Foot: To make sure a groom doesn’t disappoint on the wedding night, it is customary in Korea for groomsmen to playfully swat the feet of the newlyweds with fish or a cane.

5. BlackOut Bride: If you don’t want garbage thrown at you, maybe don’t get married in Scotland. A tradition that doesn’t seem to favor the fairer spouse, “blackening the bride” takes place before the wedding where everyone from family members to friends gets to hurl garbage at the bride.

6. Stop! Don’t Shoot!: In China, when someone says “shots!” they don’t mean alcohol. At weddings it’s customary for grooms to shoot their future brides with a bow and arrow (don’t worry, no arrowheads!) three times. Afterward, the groom breaks the bows to ensure long-lasting love.

7. France Going Down the Toilet: They may be known for their wine and food, but at a French wedding, newlyweds are expected to drink the leftovers from the wedding (we’re talking cake, booze, chocolate, hors d’oeuvres) from a toilet. They say it gives them strength for the wedding night, we think they just don’t want the food to go to waste!

8. Minding Your Pees & Q’s: For some tribes in Northern Borneo, newly married couples are not allowed to “relieve themselves” or leave their homes for. three. days.

9. Kiss for the Bride, Kiss for the Groom: In Sweden, whenever a bride or groom gets up from the table at their reception, the spouse left at the table is fair game for kissing! Not recommended for jealous-types.

10. Mom, Get Out: Imagine if you had to have your mom sit in on your first night with your spouse so she can “show the bride the ropes”. In some African villages, it is customary to have an elder accompany newlyweds on their first night together—and sometimes it’s the spouse’s mother. What’s that sound, you ask? It’s me screaming in horror at the very IDEA of it all!

So there you have it: 10 very interesting, untraditional wedding customs you never knew existed. Some are silly, some are poignant, some take a while for you to wrap your head around (YOUR MOTHER IN YOUR BEDROOM ON YOUR WEDDING NIGHT?!), but what we can’t forget is that these traditions all serve the two people who have found love and are making a lasting commitment to one another.

So how can we judge? How can we not take the time to understand the things that confuse us? How can we not educate ourselves? How can we allow something untraditional to take away from one of the MOST traditional customs our world participates in: the joining of two people together?

FYI’s newest show, Bride and Prejudice, follows three couples that face adversity for their untraditional wedding and the families that stand in their way. Together, these couples are fighting to educate their families and hopefully open their minds to all incarnations of love. Find out more by tuning in to Bride and Prejudice this March.

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