Make your marriage memorable with unique wedding ceremony ideas & customs practiced at wedding celebrations around the world.
To signify your first steps together as husband and wife, you could borrow from an Eastern European tradition of circling the altar three times.
Jumping the Broom is a custom often found in African American weddings and which first originated in the present-day West African country of Ghana. Since slaves were not allowed to marry, this custom was often used to solidify marriages among their communities.
For those couples wishing to represent a strong commitment to one another, you could take a tradition found in Hindu ceremonies where the bride and groom circle a fire seven times, sealing their bond to one another other.
An old Celtic Scottish tradition had the couple draw a circle around themselves which would symbolize their unity with God. As they drew the circle together, they would repeat the following saying:
The Mighty Three, my protection be, encircle me.
You are around my life, my love, my home.
Encircle me. O sacred three, the Mighty Thee.
Instead of just having the bride's parents answer the question: "Who gives (or supports) this woman in this marriage?" reword it so the Officiant asks "Who gives (or supports) this couple in their marriage?" Have both sets of parents answer "We do!"
For those interested in the Celtic ritual of Handfasting, you can incorporate a portion of this ceremony by having the bride and groom's wrists bound together with a piece of velvet cloth, rosary beads, or rope while the ceremony is being performed.
Your family and friends are an important part of your lives. Honor them with a prayer or blessing, acknowledging and thanking them for their support on your wedding day and in the future.
An old Greek tradition has the best man placing a crown on the heads of the bride and groom. The crowns are usually white or gold in color. Sometimes they were made of orange blossoms or constructed of twigs and vines wrapped in gold or silver paper. The crowns are usually attached together with ribbons, giving the outward sign of the ties that bind the bride and groom together.
Another Greek tradition has the bride and groom sipping wine from a common cup three times to symbolize the Trinity.
A Spanish custom has the groom presenting thirteen coins to the bride, called the "giving of the monedas." The coins symbolize his ability to support her. The bride then carries the coins in a special purse during the ceremony. Sometimes the coins are given to a young girl who carries them on a pillow or handkerchief.
To incorporate an Italian custom into your wedding ceremony you could tie a ribbon across the front of the church doors which is used to symbolize the bonding of two lives together.
A lovely tradition to the end of the ceremony originates in India. The brother of the groom (you could use the Best Man instead), sprinkles flower petals over the heads of the bridal couple in order to ward off evil spirits.
In the Philippines the bride and groom are "lassoed" over the head and shoulders with a white silken cord by members of the wedding party while the couple are knelt in prayer. A veil is then placed over their shoulders to signify their unity. Once the prayer is over, the veil and the lasso are removed.
A lovely Hawaiian tradition has the bride and groom exchange leis with one another showing your love and respect for one another as well as your unity.
When it comes to unique wedding ceremony ideas, here's an interesting concept. In Switzerland, junior bridesmaids are given colored handkerchiefs to carry. The wedding guests may then buy a handkerchief from a bridesmaid, which in turn helps to begin building the couple's "nest egg."
This may appeal to many women in today's culture: in a Quaker wedding ceremony, the bride "gives herself away" to the groom (rather than having her father or other male member walk her up the aisle). This is because the Quaker's believe that the bride belongs to no one except herself.
Another quaint Quaker custom is to have all the guests sign the register at a wedding. Take the idea of this custom and have a poster made of your wedding vows or wedding invitation, which the guests can sign as they enter for the ceremony. For those that might have missed out, put the poster up at the entrance to the reception after the ceremony.
Although this is not a tradition of long standing, it is still falls under unique wedding ceremony ideas. Instead of having each bridesmaids bouquet look the same, choose a particular flower for each bridesmaid and have a bouquet made using that flower. Then use each of the different types of flowers in your own bouquet.
If you will be incorporating some cultural traditions into your ceremony, help guests to understand what is going on by adding an explanation to the wedding programs.
Here is what my husband and I did in lieu of traditional wedding programs. We put together a 4 page "wedding newsletter." In it, we added our birth announcements, our wedding program order, some tidbits about the people in the wedding party, lyrics to the songs used during the ceremony, as well as "reporters" (with funny made up names) who "interviewed" us about our wedding attire, upcoming honeymoon plans, how we met, etc. The guests loved it.
If you've enjoyed learning about some of the unique wedding ceremony ideas held by other cultures, you may also want to see our article on Unique Wedding Reception Ideas, as well as Unity Wedding Candle Ceremonies & Sand Ceremony Ideas