Surprising Wedding Traditions From Around the World

You won’t find any dull weddings here.

In Russia, people may 'kidnap' the bride.
In Russia, people may 'kidnap' the bride. / stock_colors/E+/Getty Images

There is no denying that the American wedding is a formidable beast, boasting a bevy of quirky traditions that practically defy explanation. But we’d be remiss to let you think that the U.S. has the monopoly on seemingly wacky wedding rituals. Thus, we present to you here a quick round up of matrimonial mores from cultures around the world.

Iran, Syria, Turkey, and India

During a traditional wedding ceremony in these countries, the bride and groom jostle for a chance to (lightly) step on each other’s toes. The first to get off a solid stomp on their beloved’s foot will supposedly be the “boss” in the marriage.


photo of fancy handkerchiefs and wedding rings
If you get a colorful handkerchief at a Swiss wedding, you better pay up. / Annie Otzen/Moment Open/Getty Images

Guest at Swiss weddings are often given colored handkerchiefs; in return, they traditionally give the bride and groom a bit of money. American couples have a slightly more subtle way of getting guests to dole out some dough—checking the ‘Gift Cards Are Welcome’ option on your wedding registry, or simply setting up a cash fund.

South Korea

Soon-to-be-married couples in Korea will ask a family member or friend to carve them two small wooden ducks and bequeath them as a wedding gift, thus bringing good luck for him and his new bride. They’re meant to be symbols of fidelity and happiness.


photo of a bride and groom posing in the snow, with the Eiffel Tower in the background
This happy couple may have opted to skip out of the chamber pot tradition. / Chesnot/GettyImages

During the reception at some French weddings, guests will drop cake and bites of food from the wedding feast into a centrally located chamber pot and top it off with a generous pour from a few celebratory beverages. The resulting concoction is then to be imbibed by the bride and groom.


A bride in the Greek countryside will celebrate her marriage by plopping a young boy on her lap and then ceremoniously placing an edible, baked biscuit ring around his neck. After the wedding, the bride throws a ripe pomegranate at a door covered in honey. If seeds from the fruit stick to the door, it is believed to be a sign that the couple will be very fertile and be blessed with many children.


Photo of groomsmen lined up
They're ready to 'kidnap' the bride. / Norm Cooper/Moment/Getty Images

During the wedding reception, friends of the newlyweds will “kidnap” the bride and hold her for ransom. It is the duty of the groom to notice she is missing and then negotiate the payment for her safe return.

On the second day of revelry for a Russian wedding, any guests, friends, or family who are still around soaking up the fun will take part in the tradition of scattering money around a room. Once the floor is covered in cash, the bride is instructed to grab a broom and get to work sweeping it up.

Read More Stories About Wedding Traditions Here:


A version of this story originally ran in 2008; it has been updated for 2024.