Top 10 Most Bizarre Wedding Traditions

In America, there are wedding traditions like carrying the bride over the threshold, tossing the bouquet, etc.  Maybe some other countries think those traditions are bizarre, but when compared to these traditions, I don’t think so.

fairy-wedding10. Evil Fairy Thieves

This one ranks up there as really strange.  At Irish weddings, when the couple is dancing at their reception, the brides feet have to stay on the floor.   The point behind it is that “Fairies” love beautiful things and the most beautiful of all things to them is a bride.  But the only way they can get a grip on the bride to carry her away is if she lifts her feet.  So if she lifts her foot, the fairies can grab her and carry her off.  When researching this one, I found an alternate post says that it’s the groom that has to have his feet on the floor all the time.  The fairies getting a grip thing made some sense, but the reasoning behind the groom is that he was not steadfast in his love for his bride, so the fairies didn’t feel like he deserved the bride and would carry her away.  Either way,  it’s twisted.

Accompanying Weird Irish traditions: Pretty sure no one practices this anymore, but in Ireland, the bride and groom had to dine on oatmeal and salt (mmm, yummy) at the beginning of their reception and would take three mouthfuls which was used to protect them from what they called the Evil Eye.  Yeah, guys,  that doesn’t work.  She’s going to give that to you at some point anyway.

broken-dishes9. Broken Dishes

This is a tradition called Polterband that is a German tradition of scaring away poltergiests.  Basically friends and relatives break dishes that they either made or owned and smash them against bricks on the ground.  And there are supposed to be a LOT of dishes broken during this process.  The bride and groom then have to go and clean it all up.   It is supposed to signify the breaking up of your old lives and the cleaning is the start of the new.   Basically it brings them good luck.

Here’s a Youtube video of the relatives breaking up the dishes.

chick8. Chicken Killers

No we’re not talking about Kentucky Fried Chicken.   Let’s face it, some traditions are very dark.   There are a group of people called the Daur people that live in a region called the Heilongjiang Province in Chinese Inner Mongolia.   The bride and groom finalize the wedding date by killing a little baby chick while they hold a knife together.

Sound dark?  It gets better.  They then gut the chick and inspect its liver.  If the liver is in good condition, they go ahead and set a date.  And what happens if the liver isn’t good?  You would think that they simply don’t set a date.  Nope.   They kill another chick.   And repeat ad nauseum until a good liver is found.   Yikes.  That’s truly foul.

7. Steal the Grooms Shoes

stealing-grooms-shoesThis one is not so dark, but could probably end up pretty stinky.  This is an Indian tradition where two parties of people are out to either get the grooms shoes or help him keep them.   Apparently, the ones out to get them always end up winning.

During the ceremony the groom has to remove his shoes before he goes to the alter to get married.  Members of the bride’s family are obligated to attempt to snag the groom’s shoes.  Not only that, but they will go to great lengths to get them.   The groom’s family, on the other hand, does whatever they can to protect the shoes.  They supposedly cannot hold onto them, so they go through extreme measures to hide the shoes.

If the bride’s family is successful in stealing the groom’s shoes, then the groom must pay whatever amount of money they request to get his shoes back.  Like the wedding doesn’t cost enough as it is.  Hint to Indian grooms?  Wear cheap shoes and bring an extra pair.

Other Weird Indian Wedding Traditions:
a) The bride will throw away some food on the door of her house
b) The bride will not look backwards when leaving the house
c) There is a gate money that needs to be paid by the groom to gain access to the bride.
d) The groom looks at the bride in a mirror. He’s then asked “What do you see?” and he has to say: “Fairy!”

e) The bride and groom will share same sweet drink and share sweets. This will increase the love among them.
f) During the ceremony, the groom can ONLY touch the bride only to put the ring on.

bride-tied6. Kidnapping the bride

In Germany friends of the bride-to-be and also the groom will kidnap her and hide her somewhere.  Sometimes it will be at somebody’s house in a closet, under a bed, in a store room somewhere or basically anywhere.  Then the groom has to go and search for her.

Luckily the groom will get together his friends that aren’t involved in the hiding and begin the hunt for her.   And of course that typically starts at a bar where he buys them all drinks and then they go to find her.  How romantic. As long as they’re not driving.

5. Creepy Straw Dance

While some traditions are dark and some are just weird, some cross the line over into just plain creepy.  In Ireland, there  are a couple of counties called Leitrim and Mayo.  In those counties live 9 young men that the counties designate as the “Strawboys”.   These strawboys wear straw masks and sometimes long coats made of straw.

On the evening before the wedding, the strawboys go to house of the bride and they dance with her.  While one is dancing with her, the others dance with any other women in the home, whether they be the bride’s mother, bridesmaids or whoever.  The hard line for me is how this started and the fact that none have them been shot to death.

bowl-of-red4.  King of The Hill – The Coin Game

If there are any traditions that surprisingly haven’t been picked up by Americans, it’s this one.  After the wedding and reception are over, the bride and groom go to the groom’s parents house.   When they get there, there’s a huge bowl that is filled with red water that is colored vermillion red by a powder called Sindoor.

In that red water are a bunch of coins, trinkets and all kinds of other items.  The bride and groom are told to find particular items and they then put both of their hands into the bowl in an attempt to find those items.  They reach in and pull out one item at a time over and over again.

What’s on the line in this seemingly simple childish game?   The person that pulls out the most of the specified items is “fated” to be the ruler of the house.  Can I get a what? I can imagine the pride as the man loses one these contests in front of his parents.  But really.  What’s the point?  She’s going to wear the pants anyway.

Britain New Year3. Charivari

On my honeymoon night, a friend of ours called the hotel room.  No joke.  He lost his keys and thought it was a good idea to call and ask if we had seen them.  Well, luckily we’re not French because they have a tradition called Charivari (I’ve seen other spellings like shivaree and chivaree also).  This tradition is where the newlyweds friends and family congregate outside of their house where their trying to be romantic and begin banging on pots and pans and making a bunch of general racket. Sounds like jealousy to me.

But anyway, what’s worse is that the tradition calls for you to come out of the room in your wedding clothes (like your wedding dress) and give them drinks and snacks.  Hello!  That’s for later in the marriage and it’s called parenting!


2. Blackening the Bride

Then there are those traditions where you ask yourself, why?  Before a wedding in Scotland, there is a gross tradition of what’s called “Blackening the Bride” where friends and family catch her off guard and throw nasty things on her like eggs, sauces, mud, feathers and anything that is just nasty to get covered with.

And if that’s not enough, they then drag her around town down the streets, in bars,  in front of stores for everyone to see.   That way it’s clear to everyone that she is “off the market” and if any guys don’t care, they won’t want her anyway because she’s nasty looking and she  reeks.

indian-toilet1. Restrooms Are For Chumps

Tradition has it that members of the community of Tidong, in Sandakan, Sabah, prohibit a newly married couple from going to the bathroom at all for 3 days and 3 nights.  They’re not even allowed to leave their home.  They are watched over by family members to make sure that the rule is not broken because it is very, very bad luck.   If they fail, the marriage will most likely end in a broken marriage, infertility, or even the death of their children at a young age.   Given the seriousness of it, several people will watch over the couple making sure that they don’t fail and only feed them very little food and water.  Just enough to keep them from having to use the restroom.   Then after the 3 days, they are bathed.   Hopefully in water.  How can this possible be good for you?

Bonus Wierdness: Lean Walk On Me

The French Polynesian have 14 islands that are referred to as the Marquesas Islands (“Te Henua Kenana” in North Marquesan or “Te Fenua ‘Enata” in South Marquesan also called The Land of Men).  While the tradition is obviously the least of the bizarre of the others here, it’s still strange.  At the end of the wedding reception, the bride’s relatives all lay face down side by side and form a row in front of the bride and groom.  The couple then proceeds to walk on top of them as if they’re a human rug.  Hey, kind of like bride’s parents are treated anyway!  How symbolic!

Now even though those are the top 10 in my opinion, PLEASE send me ones that you know of!  I’d love to hear them!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jessica
    Aug 05, 2009 @ 23:55:04

    I can confidently say we did none of those at our wedding. Does that make us normal?


  2. Varun
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 14:56:05

    Actually Indian weddings have a LOT more weird bizarre traditions… there are many religions in India, hundreds of sub-sects and thousands and thousands of communities and each one of these communities has its own set of traditions some of which are quite bizarre.

    In many Patel weddings when the groom and his party come to the venue of the location they are welcomed by the bride’s people. The bride is supposed to garland the groom but when she tries to do so the groom is lifted high into the air (still in a sitting/standing position) and the bride is prevented from garlanding him. Then there is a tussle between the bride’s party and the groom’s party with each trying to outdo the other. Patels are one of the communities of the state of Gujarat btw.

    In Shah weddings after the core marriage ceremony is over the groom pretends to leave the bride, renounce the material world and leave for the Himalayas to meditate and lead a life of celibacy and penance. The bride’s brothers (other relatives fill in if she does not have brothers) have to plead with the groom and convince him to not abandon their sister 😉

    Well if you dig deeper you will find hundreds and hundreds of these 🙂


  3. Seshadri
    Apr 06, 2010 @ 21:57:20

    hey there
    I posted something similar about a week or so back. It is really interesting to get a glimpse of whats happening around the globe w.r.t. wedding traditions.


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