International Wedding Traditions
with offices in US, South Africa, Netherlands, and the UK, we've got some insight
22 Aug 2014
With the fact that Enzoani has offices on multiple continents and customers in countries all over the world, we adapt and try to reckon with a difference in languages, cultures, norms and values. Therefore, there will also be a difference in wedding traditions!
After reading this article, you will know more about the traditions and customs for weddings in the countries where Enzoani offices are located.
USA – Office in Tustin, California
Many of the United States' wedding traditions have been adopted from other cultures.
Ceremonies in the United States are among the most flexible in the world.
While most aspects of an American ceremony are adopted from European traditions or follow the couple's unique culture, there are some traditions all ceremonies share. A majority of American weddings include the wedding toast and the groom removing his bride's garter to toss to the single men in the audience.
The wedding kiss is also an important feature of weddings in the United States. By common practice, marriages aren't arranged in the United States, and people choose their partners for themselves.
Africa – Office in Pretoria, South Africa
African wedding traditions go back for many centuries and even though some westernization has crept into certain segments of African society, many of these traditional African weddings are still carried out today. An old African proverb says, "A man without a wife is like a vase without flowers."
Marriages are considered sacred in most societies, and especially so in the tradition-steeped continent of Africa. African weddings usually involve not just the coming together of the couple in question, but their extended families and, sometimes entire communities. Traditional marriage practices in South Africa involve the customs of dowry and polygamy.
UK - Office in Swansea, Wales
Traditionally a Welsh bride carries a bouquet containing myrtle leaves, signifying love in life. She gives her bridesmaids a cutting to plant and if it blossoms, the girl will soon marry. Welsh brides believe that it is lucky to be woken by birdsong on the morning of their wedding.
The wedding party walks to the church together in a procession with a flower girl sprinkling petals along the road symbolizing a happy route in life for the newlyweds.
Traditionally, the bride’s family kidnapped the bride on her wedding day, just before the ceremony took place. The groom and his family would rescue the bride, and whoever freed her, would themselves be married within the year.
Many of the Welsh wedding customs have disappeared but some have evolved and are still in use today.
EU - Office in Enschede, The Netherlands
The Dutch do not recognize religious ceremonies as valid. You must have a civil ceremony, and then if you want, you can follow that with a religious ceremony. The civil ceremony may take place at town hall, where there is often a specific room that they use for marriages and have seats for the guests. You don’t need to hold your civil ceremony in a government building.
The government official tells the couples’ stories – brief summaries of their lives and how they met etc. and often makes some jokes. The couple and their witnesses have to sign a marriage certificate. Then music can be played and songs can be sung.
After the civil ceremony, a religious ceremony in a church may take place. The pastor delivers a religious sermon on the meaning of marriage and on being religious. During the ceremony, various designated family members or friends may go up and do a speech.
The bride does not walk down the aisle escorted by her father. Rather, the bride and groom sit in front or next to the pastor. There are no bridesmaids, nor groomsmen standing up there with the bride and groom. However, there is typically one woman and one man very close to the couple who goes up and does a speech or reading.
In The Netherlands it is common that if a ring is given upon proposal (which is getting more and more common), it is the intended wedding ring and is worn on one hand during the engagement and then switched to other upon marriage. The norm is to wear the wedding ring on the right hand unless you are Catholic.
Certain guests are invited to different portions of the wedding day. The day is roughly broken into 1) the civil and religious ceremonies 2) dinner reception 3) party. Sometimes there is a cocktail party between the ceremonies and dinner.