Weddings may be a universal celebration, but traditions vary depending on culture and country.
While throwing the bouquet and cutting the cake may seem like a wedding staple in most Western places, other cultures have drastically different ways to go about celebrating the big day.
1. China: shooting the bride
In China’s Yugur culture, grooms shoot their future brides with a bow and arrow — albeit minus the arrowheads — three times. The groom then breaks the arrows to ensure the couple stay in love forever.
2. Mauritania: fat farms
In Mauritania, girls aged between five and 15 are sent to “fat farms” before their wedding to pile on the pounds. If a bride had stomach rolls, stretch marks and overlapping thighs, it signalled her husband was wealthy enough to keep her satisfied.
3. Scotland: blackening of the bride
Scottish brides-to-be are taken by surprise by their friends ahead of the big day, and pelted with all sorts of rubbish such as curdled milk, dead fish, spoiled food, tar and feathers. She is then tied to a tree and after taken for a night of drinking. The belief is that if she can withstand this kind of treatment, she can handle anything that comes her way in her marriage.
4. China: crying for the groom
Brides of the Tujia people in China are required to cry for an hour a day, every day, for the month preceding their wedding. Ten days into this ritual her mother begins to join her, then her grandmother. This is thought to be an expression of joy as the women cry in different tones.
5. Korea: beating the groom’s feet
Korean tradition dictates that the groom has his feet beaten with fish or a cane before his first night as a married man — to test his true strength and character.
6. India: marrying a tree
In parts of India women born as Mangliks (an astrological combination when Mars and Saturn are both under the 7th house), are apparently “cursed” and thought to be likely to cause their husband an early death. In order to counter this, they must first be married to a tree and the tree cut down to break the curse.
7. France: drinking from the toilet
Newlyweds in France were forced to drink leftovers from their wedding out of a toilet bowl. Nowadays, chocolate and champagne are used as a substitute, but still served out of a toilet. The idea was to give the bride and groom strength before their wedding night.
8. Sparta: cross dressing
In Spartan culture, brides would have to shave their heads and dress up like men.
9. Ireland: feet on the ground
In Ireland, the bride’s feet must stay on the floor at all times when she and the groom are dancing. This is due to the belief that if they don’t, evil fairies will come and sweep her away.
10. Germany: smashing plates
Guests to traditional German weddings bring the happy couple any type of porcelain except glass, and then smash them in the belief that this will ward off evil spirits. The couple are then expected to clean up the mess together, learning that married life will not be easy, but by working together, they can overcome any challenge.