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Some are sweet – female guests in Sweden kiss the groom when his new wife leaves the room. Some are perplexing – certain Indian brides must first marry a tree for her husband to chop down. And some are downright strange – engaged pairs in Mongolia must kill and butcher a chicken to find a healthy liver before being allowed to wed.
But what binds these seemingly disparate customs from near and far is one simple thing: love. If you find them charming, adopt it for your own “I dos” even if it’s outside your heritage: because when it comes to love and weddings, there are no borders.
• A South Korean groom has to tolerate having his feet whipped by family and friends.
• In Wales, brides hand out myrtle to their bridesmaids, who plant the cuttings. If it blooms, she’ll be next to marry.
• In Ireland, brides and grooms must keep both feet on the floor at all times when dancing or evil fairies will sweep her away.
• Congolese brides and grooms must not smile for the entire wedding day, to show they’re taking the marriage seriously.
• In China, the prospective husband shoots his bride with a bow and arrow (hopefully with the arrowheads removed) then breaks the arrows during the ceremony.
• No crash-dieting for brides on Mauritius: the chubbier the better for the husband, who is thought to be wealthy with such a well-fed wife.
• Kenyan Masai brides’ dads spit on them so as to not tempt fate by being too supportive.
• Every man who dances with a Cuban bride pins money to her dress to help the couple pay for their wedding and honeymoon.
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
Weird wedding facts to ponder as you plan your big day:
• Wednesday was traditionally thought the luckiest day to get married and Saturday the most unlucky.
• Romans carried a bride across the threshold to protect her from the evil spirits who lived in the floor.
• Rain on your wedding day is good luck, according to Hindu tradition (but not Alanis Morissette).
• Brides carry “something old” to symbolise continuity with the past. Something blue symbolises purity, fidelity and love.
• The tradition of a tiered cake comes from a kissing game which required the couple to keep kissing as higher and higher layers were placed on top of each other.
• The bride stands to the left of the groom because, until the marriage act of the 1753, English brides could expect to be kidnapped and so he would need his sword hand to fend off her family and other potential suitors. The “best man” was a member of the groom’s band most skilled at kidnapping.