8 International Wedding Trends to Inspire You
By Lorna Urwin

01 November 2016

Traditions are a wonderful way to honour your own heritage. But for inspiration that’s a bit out of the ordinary, looking further afield to a variety of other cultures and countries can open up a whole world of possibilities. From the fun to the touching to the unexpected, here are 8 international traditions to inspire your wedding.

1/ A personal invite

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Images by Carlie Statsky and Annmarie Swift Photography (cover image by OOTTUM Photography) 

Certain European wedding customs promote a far more personal approach to inviting guests to the wedding. In German tradition, an elaborately dressed ‘inviter’ was hired to go to each guest’s home and present a personal, rhyming invitation. In some regions of Poland, visiting guests in person to invite them to the wedding is still customary. Unlike in Germany, it’s the couple themselves who go door to door. They tend to extend a regular paper invitation rather than a rhyme!

2/ Silver and gold

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Image by Greer Gattuso Photography

While the English tradition calls for a single ‘silver sixpence in your shoe’ to represent the couple’s future prosperity, Swedish brides have both shoes covered. It’s tradition for them to receive a silver coin from their father for their left shoe and a gold coin from their mother for their right.

3/ A bouquet from the groom

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Images by Michele Beckwith

In certain regions of Italy it’s the groom’s job to prepare the bride’s bouquet, selecting the colours and types of flowers and then waiting outside the church to present the flowers. This makes for a wonderful final gift to the bride before she becomes his wife.

4/ A taste of married life

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Image by Michelle Girard

It’s traditional among the Yoruba people in Africa to taste the four elements that represent the different facets or emotions in a relationship - sour (lemon), bitter (vinegar), hot (cayenne pepper) and sweet (honey). The tasting symbolises the couple’s willingness to work through the highs and lows of marriage together. As a variation on this, you could choose dishes including each of the four elements in your meal and share the symbolism with your guests on the menu.

5/ Cakes and croquembouche

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Images by Sally Pinera and Aneta MAK

In Bermuda, the bride and groom have a wedding cake each. The bride’s is a tiered, rum-infused fruitcake and typically the larger of the two. It’s covered in gleaming silver leaf to symbolise purity, while the fruitcake symbolises fertility. The groom’s is a single-tiered pound cake, finished with gold leaf to denote wealth and prosperity. Both cakes are topped with small cedar saplings. After the cakes are cut, the couple plants the saplings to represent the continual growth of their love.

In France a popular alternative to a wedding cake is the croquembouche, a towering pyramid of profiteroles (cream-filled choux pastry puffs) melded together with a caramel or toffee glaze and often adorned with spun sugar, flowers or fruit. This spectacular confection has its origins in a medieval tradition where guests would each bring a small cake or pastry to the wedding and stack them together. The happy couple was then challenged to kiss over the cakes without knocking them over, with a successful kiss bringing them prosperity and fertility in their married life.

6/ Tied together

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Image by Chris Isham

The wedding lasso is a Hispanic tradition conducted after the bride and groom have exchanged vows. The officiant drapes a lasso or rope made of orange blossom, rosary beads or white ribbon around the couple’s shoulders in a figure of eight or infinity sign. This is worn throughout the rest of the ceremony as a symbol of unity and everlasting love. At the end of the ceremony, the lasso is presented to the bride as a keepsake.

Handfasting is a pagan Celtic tradition along a similar theme. The couple’s hands are crossed to create an infinity sign and tied together with cord, twine or ribbon as they say their vows. The cord is then tied into a knot (which may or may not be the origin of the phrase ‘to tie the knot’!). After the vows, the physical tie is removed, but the couple remain bound together in their hearts.

7/ Walking in together

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Image by Bohemian Simplicity

There’s a custom in Ireland and some parts of Italy that the bride and groom walk to the church together. This can be extended to walking down the aisle together, too, which suggests an equality entering into marriage that would resonate with many modern brides. (If you prefer walking in together but still want to have a distinct ‘first look’ moment, you can always arrange this for before you get to the venue)

8/ An extended party

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Image by Heidi Lau Photography

Weddings celebrations around the world can last much longer than one day, with some even lasting for a week. In Morocco, pre-wedding events are focused on cleansing and beautifying, including the bride and her friends visiting a Hamam (a Turkish bath) and a Henna ceremony. A relaxing spa day with your best friends would make a great beautifying alternative!

Other pre-wedding events are a bit more lively. At the Hindu Sangeet the wedding guests get together in advance of the big day to party with a focus on music, dancing and other live entertainment. As for after the wedding, some Hindu communities engage in light-hearted wedding games. These might involve tying the couple’s wrists together and challenging them to work together to untie it, or setting up a ‘find the ring’ game where the couple has to find a ring in a large container of milk and rose petals (the stakes are high – whoever wins is said to have the upper hand in the marriage!).