In part one of this series, we explored some totally swoon-worthy European wedding traditions that had us falling head over heels. From England’s “hen parties” to France’s spectacular wedding day parades, Europe is the place to get not only a taste of culture but some creative and fun customs to incorporate into our own ceremonies.
The Claddagh Ring
Named for Claddagh, a fishing village in Western Ireland, the Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring given from mother to daughter and is used as both a betrothal and wedding ring. Tracing its origins back to the 17th century, the silver band is complete with Irish and Celtic symbols, usually, two hands holding a heart mounted with a crown, and represents love, loyalty, and friendship.
Bagpipes and Kilts
No Irish wedding is complete without traditional pipe bands. Traditional ceremonies are often accompanied by pipe bands who lead the bride and groom into the ceremony or reception. This is usually followed by jigs, reels, and songs like “Highland Fling”. Most pipers wear Celtic kilts, a plaid skirt popular during medieval times.
Wedding Day Games
Situated between Italy and Croatia, Slovenians are known for their zest for life and love. There is no better place to understand the lifestyle and personality of Slovenians than at their wedding day, where you will find some fun traditions, including a wedding day game in which male villagers will dress in bridal attire and try to trick the groom into thinking he is the bride. Some more wedding games include the kidnapping of the bride and a practice known as the sragna in which the groom must demonstrate his physical strength by sawing a log.
After the wedding ceremony, guests will throw rice on the newly married couple. Legend has it that however many grains are left in the couple’s hair is how many children they will have!
This touching pre-wedding custom has us totally swooning. Before the big day, German couples create a wedding newspaper complete with pictures, articles, and stories of the engaged couple. The newspaper is often handed out before the ceremony takes place to friends and family and serves as a beautiful way to share memories.
In order make the first night as difficult as possible and have a little fun in the process, friends of the couple do lots of funny or sometimes crazy things. After arriving at the home of the newlyweds, friends fill up the rooms with balloons, hide alarm clocks throughout the bedroom, take apart the bed, and more!
Weddings tend to be rather large events in Spain, sometimes with more than 200 guests in attendance. With such a big wedding, the bride’s don’t hesitate to put on their best attire. It is Spanish tradition for brides to wear a traditional mantilla, a white lace headdress that goes back centuries. The mantilla is usually very long and can often trail several feet behind her wedding dress. Wearing the mantilla signifies the veiling a woman’s physical beauty, so that the beauty of God may be glorified instead. It is also a way of emulating, Mary, who in some religions is the archetype of purity and humility.
Groom’s Gift to the Bride
On the wedding day, the groom gives his bride thirteen gold coins in a decorated box. The coins are blessed by a priest and represent Jesus and his twelve apostles. Other meanings include the groom’s promise to provide for his wife and family economically as well as the gift of fortune, blessings and wealth to the couple.
Week Long Ceremony
Icelandic weddings are known for being elaborate and sometimes last up to a week. Before the marriage, the couple’s engagement has to be publicly declared on three separate occasions, usually in a church. The first usually takes place in the bride’s church, the second time in the groom’s church and the third time in the church where they will be married. The wedding usually starts at least one day before the actual ceremony, with lots of drinking, music, and speeches.
Faire Isle Sweaters
Icelandic ceremonies often include traditional Icelandic Fair Isle sweaters, made from thick wool. These sweaters are not worn by everyone but chosen by the couple who wants to celebrate their heritage. Some brides even wear them over their wedding dress for added style.
Europe definitely takes the cake for most creative wedding traditions. With so many fun and exciting ways to celebrate, we’re totally adding these to our list. Check out part I for even more wedding day practices that will have you booking your next flight abroad.