Popular Wedding Traditions



Including wedding traditions in your ceremony

Here are some traditions that you may want to incorporate into your own wedding, vow renewal or commitment ceremony. Wedding traditions should tie into your faith, belief system, lifestyle or theme.There are many wedding traditions in every culture and you can find more information on the web. Here I am listing just a few for inspiration and will periodically add more. Visit often for more inspiration.

Honoring the dead

When a bride and or groom has had a significant loss they may choose to honor the deceased in a variety of ways during their wedding ceremony. Because this is a highly emotional decision, I find that less is more. It is important to find a safe balance between honoring them and not letting it overwhelm your ceremony. A single rose left on an empty chair, as the bride or groom come up the aisle is chosen most often. However,  a small table with pictures and a poem like the one I used when my brother passed or lighting a single memorial  candle or having a vase with the deceased favorite flowers(read more here)

For Wedding Memories of those that could not be with us

I thought of you with love today
But that is nothing new
I thought about you yesterday
And days before that too
I think of you in silence
I often speak your name
All I have are memories
And your picture in a frame
Your memory is my keepsake
With which I will never part
God has you in His keeping
I have you in my heart

1. Although we can’t see you
We know you are here
Smiling down, watching over us
As we say “I DO”
Forever in our hearts
Forever in our lives
And so we say our vows
In loving memory of you.

2. Although death has separated us physically, faith and love have bound us eternally.
Though we cannot see you, we know you are here.
Though we cannot touch you, we feel the warmth of your smile, as we begin a new chapter in our lives.
Today we pause to reflect upon those who have shaped our character,
molded our spirits and touched our hearts.
May the lighting of this candle be a reminder of the memories we have shared,
a representation of the everlasting impact you have made upon our lives.

3. In Loving Memory of those who could
not be with us to share our special day
For those we have loved and lost along the way,
A flame to remember them burns here today.
For the laughter, smiles and memories remain,
Together today their presence sustains.
Never forgotten and loved forever more,
Today their blessings flicker and soar.


What Is A Family?

By Mary C. Fairbanks
What is a family, how do they start?
They start with a seed planted deep in your heart.
They come with a chorus full of great sound,
They come with great love, wherever it’s found.

Where did my family start, when will it end?
It started with two people, friend meeting friend.
It won’t end too briskly, it won’t fade away.
As you will soon learn on this wonderful day.

Our family can be anyone who wants in
Anyone who’ll stand by you through thick and through thin.
It won’t be contagious, hard work it will take,
But, if you link hands a firm circle you’ll make.

I invite you to join me and grab my right hand,
And circle around these two friends where they stand.
Come up and show them one family exists,
On their joyful day full of family bliss.

Join hands all around them and bless them with love,
As Our Heavenly Father has done from above.
For, families are fragile and may not survive,
Unless they have Angels to keep them alive.

This family is strong, we won’t break the bond.
We pledge to continue, this group will stand strong.
We stand hand to hand, we stand heart to heart,
And promise that never will we fall apart.

As mountains surround us, as rose petals drop,
As sunsets sleep vivid, our love will not stop.
This circle reminds us that family we’ll stay.
It’s our promise to you, on your special day.

Releasing Butterflies or Doves, balloons etc

{When  Releasing Butterflies, Doves, White Pigeons, Lady Bugs, balloons etc please  do your homework. There are consequences to every action we take. Great article and comments}

Purpose-The act of letting go. The symbolism of unity (as in dove or pigeon releases) The carrying away of wishes you want to come true.


Sample Wording for Release of Butterflies

According to an American Indian Legend –
If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first
capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.
Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.

So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted.
We have gathered to grant this couple all our best wishes and are
about to set these butterflies free in trust that all these wishes will be granted.

You have given me wings with which to fly
Now I breathe in deep and spread them wide
as we lift off from the silken petals
into the wind where the butterflies glide.

Throwing Shells into the sea

After the bride and groom have been pronounced husband and wife. they each take a shell. then the bridal party takes a shell and so on until each member at the wedding has one. then they all march down tot he edge of the sea.

A wish is thought and then guests, family and bride and groom throw the shell into the sea to carry away the wishes made for and by them. I usually encourage my couples to write words on the shells like their wedding date, honor, faith, love, trust. It is believed that the ocean or sea is keeper of the wish and grants them throughout the marriage. Also those that find the seashells will be blessed in their marriage.

The Blessing Stones

Similar to the Shell ceremony,

When a wedding is outside and near water, Blessing or Wishing stones are either gathered at the site or provided by the couple not only for themselves but for the wedding party and guests as well. After the ceremony all follow the bride and groom’s recessional to the water, make a wish or blessing for them and cast their stone into the water. The ripples that are made represent the love and good wishes for not only the couple, but for all the world… as our ripples cross and re- cross one another’s, so do our love and good wishes touch and retouch all around us and those with whom we come into contact.

Jumping The Broom

 “Jumping the Broom” is a symbol of sweeping away the old and welcoming the new, or a symbol of new beginnings.

Jumping the broom has become one of the most popular African traditions at weddings-traditional and African-centered. History tells us that the ancestral roots of this ritual began deep in the heart of Africa. It’s original purpose and significance has been lost over the years because of the association with slavery.

This broom ceremony represents the joining of two families, it’s showing respect and pays homage to those who came before us and paved the way.  Therefore it should be practiced with honor for your ancestors and the beauty of our rich heritage. During the slave “transitions” we were not allowed to practice many of the traditional rituals of our past therefore, much of our heritage was lost during this time.  However, a few were considered harmless and allowed.

In some instances, Brooms were waved over the heads of the marrying couple to ward off evil spirits and sweep away past wrongs. Sometimes the couple would then step over or “jump” over the broom. This symbolized the wife’s commitment to clean the courtyard and her overall commitment to the house. It also represented who was to be the decision maker in the house.


Today “Broom Jumping” is a ritual, handed down from generation to generation to remind us of a time when our vows were not legally sanctioned. During slavery, our ancestors sought the legitimacy of marriage by jumping over the broom and into the bonds of domesticity. For our ancestors, this small ritual was a legal and bonding act connecting them with the heritage of the home land and giving legitimacy, dignity and strength to their unions. In their eyes this union was now sanctioned by “the almighty”

It is said that broom jumping comes from an African Tribal Marriage Ritual of placing sticks on the ground representing the couple’s new home together, I have also heard it said that the spray of the broom represents all of us scattered and the handle represents the almighty who holds us together…… You decide

Today’s ceremony can be performed at the wedding, after the pronouncement of the couple, as man and wife or at the reception, just after the bridal party enters the reception area. Should you decide to incorporate this wonderful tradition in you wedding remember to do it with the honor and dignity it represents. Jumping the broom is about incorporating your past, and giving it a place of honor in your new life. Therefore combine it with your personality and style. It should be an uplifting and spiritual addition to any ceremony.

Sample  Words for the broom jumping  ceremony

1.As (bride) and (groom) jump the broom, they physically and spiritually cross the threshold into the land of matrimony. It marks the beginning of making a home together. It symbolizes the sweeping away of the old and the welcoming of the new; the sweeping  away all negative energy, making way for all things that are good to come into your lives. It is also a call of support for the marriage from the entire community of family and friends. The bride and groom will now begin their new life together with a clean sweep!

2.Please count with me to three as the bride and groom leap happily into their future

3.The straw end represents the brushing away of all their old cares and worries.  The strong wooden handle represents the strength of your commitment to each other, and the straight, unconditionally committed path you will follow together in marriage. The bride and groom have chosen this ceremony to signify their entrance into a new life and their creation of a new family by symbolically “sweeping away” their former single lives, former problems and concerns, and stepping over the broom to enter upon a new adventure as husband and wife.

Jewish Wedding Traditions

Breaking Glass

In many Jewish wedding ceremonies after the couple is pronounced, a glass or light bulb wrapped in cloth is crushed by the groom. There are many reasons given for this practice, unfortunately none of them are celebratory. The breaking of the glass is a reminder of temperance needed in life and marriage, and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.  The breaking of the glass can also be seen as the fragility of life which can be broken any minute. It reminds us of the need to care for one another;for just as glass can be shattered easily, so can the marriage bond can be shattered with a single act of infidelity or repeated acts of emotional irresponsibility.

*Some sectors of Jewish religion are outraged at the practice and do not allow it because shouting Mazel Tov (Congratulations)  is in direct contradiction to the reasoning of the practice.

The Chuppah

The wedding canopy, Huppah, Chuppah, in which the couple stands or sits under, symbolizes the new home the bride and groom, or couple are making

The Seven Blessings (Sheva Brachot)

Blessings are made for the couple. In some instances family members or close friends are called to recite the blessings which is considered a great honor. Usually spoken in Hebrew by a Rabbi, the seven blessings are translated below :

1.”Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.”
2.”Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who created everything for His Glory.”
3.”Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who creates man.”
4.”Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who creates man in your image*, fashioning perpetuated life. Blessed are You, LORD, creator of man.”
5.”May the barren one exult and be glad as her children are joyfully gathered to her. Blessed are You, LORD, who gladden Zion with her Children.”
6.”Grant perfect joy to these loving companions, as you did your creations in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, LORD, who grants the joy of groom and bride.”
7. “Blessed are You, LORD, our God, sovereign of the universe, who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, song, delight and rejoicing, love and harmony and peace and companionship. Soon, LORD our God, may there ever be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem voices of joy and gladness, voices of groom and bride, the jubilant voices of those joined in marriage under the bridal canopy, the voices of young people feasting and singing. Blessed are You, LORD, who causes the groom to rejoice with his bride.”

Sharing of Wine

Usually a decorative goblet or chalice is used. The goblet is referred to symbolically as the ‘cup of life’. Because wine has sweet properties and bitter properties it is a symbol of happiness, joy, hope, peace, love and delight. This same wine also holds some bitter properties that are symbolic of disappointment, sorrow, grief, despair, and life’s trials and tribulations. Basically it represents the Life Journey the couple will make in their marriage. Drinking from the cup with an open heart and willing spirit invite all of the challenges and experiences that happen in a marriage into their life.

*This ceremony can also be used as a Unity ceremony by simply having the groom pour a red wine into a bowl and the bride pour a white wine into the same bowl and what happens is a mix of the wines creates a sort of blush or rose wine the couple shares and then serves to the guests at the cocktail hour or during the reception.

Signing of the marriage contract

Typically done prior to the wedding ceremony. The groom agrees to be bound by the terms of the Ketubah (marriage contract). It can then be read in the language it is written or in translation during the wedding ceremony or a shortened version can be used for non-religious or secular weddings.

*It is believed that the marriage contract is a legal binding document.

Knot Ceremony

Knot ceremonies are used in many ceremonies, religious, civil and secular. This tradition is seen mainly in  Celtic ceremonies. There are a lot of different versions of this ceremony. Sometimes the knot ceremony is actually a braiding of ropes. Knot ceremonies are also used in place of traditional unity ceremonies or in addition to them. The mothers of the couple usually gift the rope or cord for the knot ceremony and the couple ties a lover’s knot (pictured below). The lover’s knot is sometimes called an infinity knot.

here are some examples:



The Cord of 3 strands

The Cord of Three Strands symbolizes the joining of one man, one woman, and God into a marriage relationship. Marriage takes three; you, your soon to be spouse, and God. It was God who taught us to love. By keeping Him at the center of your marriage, His love will continue to bind you together as one throughout your marriage. Believed to symbolize God’s sacred union in Marriage, the ropes are usually attached to a ring and three cords in the colors of gold, purple and white are affixed to the ring. During the ceremony the bride braids the cord with the groom holding the ring all while the officiant describes the ceremony and usually accompanies with a biblical or spiritual reading or Prayer. The braided cord can then be displayed in the couples home and many times comes in a decorative box for just that purpose. See sample below.

Sample Reading-

Each strand has a significant meaning.

The gold strand represents God and His majesty.
The purple strand represents the groom and his life.
The white strand represents the bride and her life.

In braiding these three strands together, bride and groom, have demonstrated that their marriage is more than a joining of two lives together. It is a unity with God as well. They have chosen to allow God to be at the center of their marriage, woven into every aspect of it. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reads, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Hand fasting, Bindings

Hand fasting and bindings are seen in religious and non religious as well as pagan or secular ceremonies. It can be considered a unity ceremony  but is really more of a tradition. Some use an extended ceremony as the main part of the ceremony incorporating vows, ring exchanges and blessings. Hand bindings are not legal ceremonies in and of itself. Under certain rules in some European countries there are countries that accept the practice. Whenever I incorporate a hand-binding in a legal ceremony, I counsel the couple that the legal vows will be done first so that there is no reason for the ceremony not to be legal and all other traditions are done thereafter. If the ceremony is of a non legal nature then the components can be done as the couple wishes.

Usually in a hand-binding a series of questions are asked by the officiant and answered by the couple and then a ribbon, cord, rope or set of colored ribbons are draped across the couples hands which are clasped (right hand to right hand)

Short Hand fasting

Here is a sample of a compressed  version of the questions that can be incorporated into any wedding. Sometimes couples don’t want to incorporate the ritual of the binding due to how it may be perceived by their family and guests. I have modified the wording  so it still allows the beauty of the words but without the stigma that is associated with pagan traditions in a traditional wedding. You can do this with or without doing the bindings.

Do you both come willingly and without unwanted persuasion to this decision?

Do you both intend to be faithful, loving and trustworthy, one to another?

Do you both promise to care for each other and not to purposely or willfully harm the other?

Will you both seek to be honest and communicate with each other at all times?

Will you both support each other in times of distress and in times of joy?

Will you both seek to be a good steward over your belongings?

Will you temper your words and actions with love?

Then by your words shall you each be bound this day and every day forward for as long as you both allow love to last between you. In the face of reality, situations and people change. However, your union is not doomed to failure. By the promises you have made and the vows you are about to take, you are preparing yourselves for a beautiful future together.


 Full hand Binding Ceremony

With full awareness, know that within this circle you are not only declaring your intent to be hand fasted before your friends and family, but you speak that intent also to your creative higher powers.

The promises made today and the ties that are bound here greatly strengthen your union; they will cross the years and lives of each soul’s growth.

Do you still seek to enter this ceremony?

Yes, We Seek to Enter.

In times past it was believed that the human soul shared characteristics with all things divine. It is this belief which assigned virtues to the cardinal directions; East, South, West and North. It is in this tradition that a blessing is offered in support of this ceremony.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East. Communication of the heart, mind, and body Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun. The knowledge of the growth found in the sharing of silences.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South. Warmth of hearth and home The heat of the heart’s passion The light created by both To lighten the darkest of times.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West. The deep commitments of the lake The swift excitement of the river The refreshing cleansing of the rain The all encompassing passion of the sea.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North Firm foundation on which to build Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives A stable home to which you may always return.

Each of these blessings from the four cardinal directions emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and successful union. Yet they are only tools. Tools which you must use together in order to create what you seek in this union.

I bid you look into each others eyes.

[Groom’s Name], Will you cause her pain?
I May (What was actually said was an emphatic yes)
Is that your  intent?

[Bride’s Name], Will you cause him pain?
I may
Is that you intent?

*To Both*
Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?

And so the binding is made. Join your hands
*First cord is draped across the bride and grooms hands*

[Bride’s Name], Will you share his laughter?

[Groom’s Name], Will you share her laughter?

*To Both*
Will both of you look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?

And so the binding is made.
*Second chord is draped across the couples hands*

[Bride’s Name], Will you burden him?
I may
Is that your intent?

[Groom’s Name], Will you burden her?
I may
Is that your intent?

*To Both*
Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?

And so the binding is made.
*Drape third chord across the couples hands*

[Bride’s Name], will you share his dreams?

[Groom’s Name], will you share her dreams?

*To Both*
Will you dream together to create new realities and hopes?

And so the binding is made.
*Drape fourth chord across the couples hands*

[Groom’s Name], will you cause her anger?
I may
Is that you intent?

[Bride’s Name], will you cause him anger?
I may
Is that your intent?

*To Both*
Will you take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union?
We Will

And so the binding is made.
*Drape fifth chord across the couples hands*

[Bride’s Name], Will you honor him?
I will

[Groom’s Name], Will you honor her?
I will

*To Both*
Will you seek to never give cause to break that honor?
We shall never do so

And so the binding is made.
*Drape sixth chord across the couples hands*

*Tie chords together while saying:*
The knots of this binding are not formed by these chords but instead by your vows. Either of you may drop the chords, for as always, you hold in your own hands the making or breaking of this union.

*Once chords are tied together they are removed and placed on altar* or small table

Thirteen Coins

Popular in Tawainese, Filipino and Hispanic weddings, this wedding custom may have originated in Spain and consists of the groom giving the bride thirteen gold coins or arras to represent his commitment to support her. In Spain, thirteen represent Christ and his twelve apostles. The symbolism is often explained by the officiant that the Groom pledges his ability to support and care for his bride. The arras and the madrina de arras, an ornate box or gift tray that holds the coins often become a part of the family heirloom.

Love Letter Ceremony

This is a romantic, emotional and sentimental way to honor the love between you as a couple. (this ceremony kit is available in Wedding Supplies) Watch the video to see how to incorporate it into you wedding ceremony.

 Crossed Broom and Sword

Another old tradition is for the couple to jump over a crossed broom and sword (held by the best man and the maid of honor). This symbolizes the cutting of ties to their parents and the ties being swept away.


 Family Medallion or Family Ring Ceremony

Research shows that children accept a parent’s remarriage more easily when they feel included in the wedding plans and are given a special symbol of being embraced by a new family. So as an alternative to including children in the Unity Candle Ceremony, by giving the Family Medallion, ring or other piece of jewelry as a gift to a child during the wedding service, it provides a message of love and affirmation. When used during the wedding, the Family Medallion is given to each child after the couple is pronounced husband and wife. Couples may choose to present Family Medallion pendants, rings, lapel pins or other jewelry during the wedding service or as a special gift. This presentation is appropriate for children of all ages, even adult children. Children often attach the same emotional importance to their Family Medallion as the bride and groom place on their wedding rings.

The Family Medallion symbol includes three equally merged circles. Two circles represent the marriage union while the third symbolizes the importance of children within the family.
Sample Reading-
The Officiant will say:

“Family and Friends, Bride and Groom now wish to give Child or children a Family Medallion (or rings), not
only as a symbol of their commitment to them, but also as a symbol of their bond as a family.”

“Do you Bride and groom, promise to honor and protect Child/Children,
and to provide for them to the best of your ability?”
Bride and Groom… “We do.”
Officiant: “Do you promise to make their home a haven, where trust, love, and laughter are abundant?”
Bride and Groom… “We do.”
Officiant will then say:

“And do you make these promises lovingly, and freely, and vow to honor them all the days of your lives?”
Bride and Groom… “We do.”
(After this vow, the Family Rings/gifts are presented to child/children.)

The Officiant will say:

“And now, Child/Children, do you promise to love and respect your parent’s new husband/wife?”
Children… “We do.”
Officiant: “Do you promise to support their marriage and new family?”
Children… “We do.”
Officiant: “Do you promise to accept the responsibility of being their children, and to encourage them and support them in your new life together?”
Children… “We do.”

Marriage is so much more than a certificate…it starts in the heart

Traditions by Culture

Japanese Wedding Traditions

The ceremony

Civil ceremony – jinzenshiki and the traditional ceremony – shizenshiki

Sake Ceremony

A neat Japanese tradition of San-San-Kudo which translates to three three nine, is where the sake, a rice wine (you could substitute a non-alcoholic drink) is poured into three special cups of different sizes. Using the smallest of the cups, one partner takes three sips. Then the other partner does the same. They repeat this with the medium and large cups for a total of nine sips. At the end of the sake ceremony, both families drink a cup of sake, which represents the union of the bride and groom and unification of the two families. Drinking the wine is a sign that the marriage vows are sealed. You could do this to further the idea of two becoming one and bring the family together or you could just do it with the two of you.


Changing into different outfits though out the ceremony is a common practice. In Japan, brides may wear a colorful silk kimono or a shiromuku, a formal gown passed down over the ages and still used today as traditional bridal dresses. Some Japanese brides choose to wear a modern wedding gown. In Japan, white symbolizes purity, elegance and “new beginning”. Only very traditional Japanese brides don white face makeup, painted red lips, and a wig with expensive combs and decorative ornaments. After the wedding, the bride will change into the irouchiakake, a beautiful silk kimono with red, gold, silver, and white colors. This kimono usually features a crane which symbolizes a long life. Near the end of the reception, the bride changes into the furisode, a kimono with wide sleeves worn by an unmarried woman. The tradition symbolizes the last time she will wear the furisode. The groom usually wears a men’s kimono called haoiri-hakama or a tuxedo.

1000 Paper Cranes

This custom of making 1,000 paper cranes symbolized good fortune, fidelity and longevity.

The formalized gift giving practice is referred to as Oshuugi


This is essentially a money gift. The guests are sometimes informed of how much to provide the couple based on their relationship with the bride and groom and the colorful or decorated envelope used to provide the gift in is called Shugi-Bukuro. (Example- work colleagues and associates give $200,  close friends give $300, family gives $500) The banknotes should be in a number that is not easily divided, they should be new without any creases or folds to signify new beginnings, the envelope is collected by an attendant prior to the ceremony or reception as you sign the register.

Hikidemono or parting gifts worth $50 or more. (Guests bring a special envelope with money (Shugi-Bukuro) based on their income and relation to the couple. in return the couple provides an equally worthy gift

Kohaku manjyu, round steamed buns with bean paste filling, which are often presented in pairs to guests, one red bun and one white bun.

Hispanic Wedding Traditions

El Lazo
As part of the ceremony to symbolize unity, an extra-long strand of rosary beads or Lazo is placed in a figure eight shape around the necks of the couple after they have exchanged their vows. The symbolism of the lazo is to show the union and protection of marriage. Sometimes, key members of the wedding party are responsible for “lassoing” the Bride and Groom together after they kneel for the wedding prayer. Sometimes a white satin cord or rope is draped around the shoulders of the Bride and groom. Tradition requires the couple to wear the lasso for the remainder of the service. This act is symbolic of their love, which should bind the couple together everyday as they equally share the responsibility of marriage for the rest of their lives. Mothers of the couple usually provide El Lazo or Lasso. I have seen wedding Lassos made from flowers as well.


 Irish Wedding Traditions

The Claddagh

In Ireland, the most popular style of wedding rings is the Claddagh. This ring depicts two hands holding a heart which is topped with a crown. The hands represent friendship, the heart love, and the crown loyalty. This ring has several legends surrounding it dating back to medieval times. One tale behind the Claddagh refers to a man in ancient Galway who was engaged to be married when he was taken prisoner by pirates to a far away land. During that time he taught himself the art of jewelry-making. When he finally returned home, he was so happy to find that his wife-to-be had never married that he created the now famous Claddagh wedding band for his wife

Celtic Knot

Incorporating beautiful intricate Celtic designs in your wedding is a wonderful way to acknowledge your Irish ancestry. The Celtic love knot is a pattern created by using continuous, unending lines that intertwine. The design represents eternity, unity, and fidelity.


While most brides wear traditional wedding dresses, There are several designers that specialize in traditional Celtic wedding dresses. Designers can embroider your gown with Irish symbols like the Celtic knot. Handmade Irish lace is gorgeous and can be used on your veil and/or dress. Irish linen handkerchiefs are also a charming way to incorporate Irish culture and work well to dry those happy tears.

 Native American Indian Wedding Traditions

Washing Ceremony

One custom in particular requires the bride and groom to wash their hands to cleanse away evil and previous lovers. This is one of many significant Native American wedding rituals. A common theme among American Indian tribes involves Mother Earth and the Great Spirit.

 Blanket Ceremony

The Blanket Ceremony is one of the oldest and most endearing wedding traditions among some Native American tribes. This ritual entails using two blue blankets to represent the couple’s past lives. The couple are wrapped in blue blankets and led to a sacred circle of fire. The officiant or spiritual leader blesses the union and the couple shed the blue blankets and enveloped by relatives in a single white blanket which represents their new life. Under the white blanket, it’s customary that the couples embrace and kiss. The white blanket is usually kept and displayed in the couple’s home.

Wedding Vase Ceremony

The Cherokee and the Pueblo Indians use a special double-sided pottery wedding vase to sip a sweet corn liquid during the ceremony. Together, the couple moves in directions from north to south and east to west, to offer their blessings to all the earth. Wedding vases come in a wide assortment of colors and materials.


The bride may wear a white dress or a beautiful long leather dress with beading and traditional colors woven into the fabric. The traditional colors of Native Americans include White for east, Blue for south, Yellow for west, and Black for north. These four colors represent the four points of the earth. Native American brides may also wear moccasins and a wreath made of maize which symbolizes fertility.



African, African American Wedding Traditions

Tying the Knot
In some African tribes, the bride and groom have their wrists tied together with cloth or braided grass to represent their marriage. Today’s modern couples may choose to have the officiant or a close friend tie their wrists together with a piece of kente cloth or a strand of cowrie shells during the ceremony while stating the wedding vows.

Libation Ceremony
To honor their ancestors, some Africans pour Holy water, or alcohol, onto the ground as prayers are recited to the ancestral spirits. Some African American couples choose to incorporate a libation ceremony as an opportunity to honor those that have recently passed away.

Jumping the broom
This is a well-known tradition whose origin is up for debate. During the slavery era, since African slaves were forbidden to marry in America, they would make a public declaration of their love and commitment by jumping over a broom to the beat of drums. Today, this ritual’s significance is agreed upon to be a symbol for the start of the couple making a home together. It has become very popular for African-American couples to “Jump the broom” at the conclusion of their wedding ceremony. The broom, often handmade and beautifully decorated, can be displayed in the couple’s home after the wedding

Tasting of the 4 elements
In this Yoruba ritual, the bride and groom taste four flavors that represent different emotions within a relationship. The four flavors typically used are sour (lemon), bitter (vinegar), hot (cayenne), and sweet (honey). By tasting each of the flavors, the couple symbolically demonstrates that they will be able to get through the hard times in life, and, in the end, enjoy the sweetness of marriage.

Kola Nut
The Kola nut is most often used for medicinal purposes in Africa. It is also essential in most African weddings. The Kola nut symbolizes the couple’s willingness to always help heal each other. In Nigeria, the ceremony is not complete until a kola nut is shared between the couple and their parents. Many African-American couples incorporate the sharing of a kola nut into their ceremonies, and then keep the nut in their home afterwards as a reminder to always work at healing any problems they encounter.

Adrinka Symbols

Wearing an African-inspired gown with Adinkra symbols woven into the fabric is a special way to incorporate African tradition in your wedding. Adinkra symbols are common in Western African societies; specifically Ghana, a country situated on the Atlantic between Togo and the Ivory Coast. Adinkra symbols were adapted by the Asante people of Ghana. The symbols represent different concepts or ideas. Adinkra symbols can be found everywhere in Ghana including fabrics, walls, pottery and logos. Some common Adinkra symbols used in weddings include, Akoma, Me Ware Wo, Gye Nyame, and Osram Ne Nsoromma. Akoma is a heart symbol that signifies patience and tolerance. Gye Nyame signifies the supremacy of God. Me Ware Wo symbolizes commitment and perseverance. Osram Ne Nsoromma stands for the harmony that exists in the bond between a man and a woman.

Cowrie Shells
Cowrie shells, indigenous to West Africa represent fertility and prosperity. Cowrie shells are a significant favorite used in bridal attire. Use of the shell design in favors, food serving, cakes and decoration or table centerpieces express the tradition.

Ring Shout
This is a ceremonial dance, a form of spiritual Christian worship, done anytime before or after the ring exchange is completed, and a few members of the wedding party gather around the couple singing, clapping, stomping , beating drums, sticks, brooms, tambourines in a counterclockwise circle. It has many meanings but the most important is that it symbolizes our journey into freedom and pays homage to mother Africa.

Moroccan Wedding Traditions

The Hamman
Pre wedding ceremony party in which the bride is given a milk bath and the use of a black soap to purify the bride

The Nekkacha, a specialist paints the hands and feet of the bride and her party. The bride’s hands are painted with intricate designs which are usually floral and geometrical designs to ward off evil spirits.

The dowry is paid before a notary and is spent on the bride’s trousseau and new furniture. The jewelry she receives must be made of gold (rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings). During the engagement period, (which usually lasts six months to two years) the prospective groom sends his bride-to-be gifts of cloth, gowns and perfume on feast days. Five days before the wedding, a mattress, blankets, and other necessities are carried into the bridal chamber. The bride is given a bath in the hammam. Her female wedding attendants, called negassa, closely supervise. She is applied make up (including henna-stained designs) to her hands and feet. She is then dressed in her embroidered wedding finery of white robes. She is then placed behind a curtain, symbolizing her transition to a new life.

Greek Wedding Traditions

Holy Trinity
The symbol of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is an important aspect of the Greek Orthodox religion and is incorporated symbolically within the wedding celebration. Many of the ceremony rituals are performed in series of threes.


The Koumbaros is an honored guest that participates in the wedding ceremony. Traditionally, the Koumbaros is the groom’s godfather. Today, he is usually the best man. He assists with the crowning of the couple and the exchange of the rings three times between the bride and groom before it is placed on the bride and groom’s third fingers.

Stefana are metal crowns or floral wreaths, sometimes attached with ribbon, are placed on the heads of the bride and groom as a symbol of God bestowing his blessings in the form of crowns. The crowns are generally connected by a ribbon to symbolize the couple’s eternal bond as husband and wife

Circle Dance

The famous Kaslamantiano or “Circle dance”, involves two circles that form around the bride while guests throw money at the musicians and break dishes for good luck.


 Jamaican Wedding Traditions

The elaborate preparations for the ceremony included cooking great amounts of food for the reception and the baking of several cakes. On the wedding day, the cakes were carried to the wedding location by a procession of married women wearing white dresses and head-ties. No one spoke during this solemn procession, and the cakes themselves were covered by white lace so that the bride did not see them until the day of the wedding.

Before the ceremony, ring games were played and food was consumed in great quantities. The festivities lasted until daybreak, when those in attendance would then pray for the couple before they left to prepare themselves for the wedding ceremony. If the ceremony was held in a church, it usually followed the parameters of an English wedding. The groom wore a new suit and the bride wore a white dress and veil.

The reception was held at the groom’s house in a booth that was built specifically for the event. Usually constructed of coconut boughs and decorated with flowers, the booth was an extension of the home. Usually, the reception followed a standard order, including the cutting of the cake, the toasting of the couple, the eating of a lot of delicious food and a great deal of dancing. The reception usually lasted until the afternoon, with the attendants playing games and singing songs.

It didn’t end there, though. On the Sunday after the wedding, known as Tun T’anks Sunday, the wedding party went to church. After services, the assembly then visited the bride’s parents’ home for a second reception, usually even bigger than the first party. More food and cakes were served. The top layer of the cake was given to the minister who performed the ceremony, and the second layer went to the newlywed couple.

Throughout the evening, other traditions were followed. Participants bid on the bride and groom, with the collected sum then given to the bride. The end of the evening was highlighted by a dance, usually played by a fife, banjo and guitar. Quadrille was the common dance, with one of the sets composed of family members including the bride, the groom, their parents, the maid of honor and the best man.

Gifts were given by all those in attendance, and were usually animals or other provisions. After this last reception, the couple would venture to their new home, where they rested for a week. The couple was excused from working in the fields; instead, family members visited to bring food and provide advice.