By Chris Simeral
If you’d like to add a slice of your heritage to your wedding ceremony, you’re not alone. Millions of couples are embracing their ancestry and choosing to incorporate some of the best traditions from around the world in their ceremonies here at home. Here are some of the most interesting wedding traditions you might find if you attended a wedding in France, Italy or Spain. If you or your family are from one of these countries, why not try adding some phrases from your ancestor’s native tongue in your wedding vows for a truly memorable touch!
On the day of the wedding, it is customary for the French groom to meet the bride at her home and accompany her to the church. He then is walked down the aisle by his mother during the ceremony. After the ceremony, the couple walks on laurel leaves that have been strewn on the ground by well wishers. Fragrant flowers are also carried by the
bride in the belief that the scent will repel evil spirits.
Traditionally, guests to the wedding will bring small cakes and pile them on a table as they enter the church. The bride and groom kiss over the cakes to symbolize a fruitful life. On the wedding night, these same guests will stand outside banging on pots and pans until the groom invites them in for drinks.
The bride in an Italian wedding wears a veil over her face in order to hide it from evil spirits until the ceremony is over. It’s considered good luck for the groom to tear it at the conclusion of the ceremony. Evil spirits are also warded off by the groom carrying a piece of iron in his pocket.
At the beginning of the wedding reception, the best man serves sweet liquor or strong drinks to the wedding guests, who then toast the wedding couple with the words “cent’anni,” which means “for a hundred years.” There may be as many as 14 different entrees at an Italian wedding dinner, each with its own wine selection.
To help defray the costs of the lavish ceremony and to assist in the couple’s new lives together, the bride often carries a satin bag. Guests place envelopes of money in the bag, and male guests may buy dances with the bride by contributing to this fund.
Before the wedding ceremony in Spain, the groom will present the bride with 13 coins in a little bag, which she then carries to the ceremony. These coins represent his commitment to her. At the ceremony, she will wear orange blossoms in her hair to signify virginity and purity. The church is also often decorated with orange blossoms.
In stark contrast to most wedding traditions, in Spain it is customary for the bride to wear a black silk dress at her wedding. Her veil is also black, and intricately embroidered. The groom wears an embroidered shirt made for him by his bride-to-be.
At the reception after the ceremony, guests traditionally present the newlyweds a gift for their household. There is also a traditional dance, called the “sequidillas manchegas,” which the guests enjoy.
Chris Simeral is the creator of The Ultimate Wedding Vow Toolkit, the wedding-coordinator-approved home-study course for couples personalizing or renewing their wedding vows. Sign up for the free wedding vow mini-course at http://www.weddingvowtoolkit.com.