Cultural Wedding Traditions

Walking around a fire, drinking from nuptial cups and prostrating for the bride? These wedding traditions only exist in the following cultures:


Wedding ceremonies in India are intricate, inclusive and deeply spiritual. Before the traditional ceremony, a set of rituals takes place 15 days before the ceremony. During this time, the families of the bride and groom agree that the couple should be wed and set the wedding date. This is also when a piece of thread, Mauli, is tied to the hands of the groom and his parents to signify a safe ceremony from the gods. Mayara(Maternal Uncle’s Ceremony)is the next step where gifts are given to the mothers of the bride and groom, including their wedding attire! Lastly, the Tilak Ceremony is when Kumkum, a red turmeric powder, is put on the groom’s forehead by the male members of the bride’s family before he receives gifts.

The Indian bride-to-be participates in a Mehendi ceremony right before the wedding day where her female relatives and friends apply henna on the bride’s arm. It’s believed that the deeper the color, the stronger the marriage will be. The names of the bride and groom are deliberately hidden in the henna artwork, and it’s up to the groom to find those names.

Indian weddings traditionally happen outdoors on the earth and are nestled under a canopy (Mandap). The ceremony includes a priest, a fire and the Mandap. The fire symbolizes life substantiality and gives life to the marriage. The marriage becomes official when the couple walks around the fire four times as the Pandit chants. Fun fact: After this, the couple rushes to their seat, and it’s said that the partner who sits first is the dominant one in the marriage!


Japanese weddings are very spiritual and symbolic. Throughout their history, the Japanese wedding ranged from Shinto, Christian, Buddhist or non-religious styles. Today, though, the typical Japanese wedding is Shinto-style, very private and formal with only close relatives and guests.

The engagement normally includes an exchange of lucky objects between the lovers. These objects include money, preserved foods and a Suehiro, a fan that symbolizes happiness. The Shinto-style bride wears a white kimono, a shiro-muko, which symbolizes purity and that she will become the color of her husband’s family. During the ceremony, the couple exchanges nuptial cups and drinks from them three times, symbolizing their wedding vows. Their parents drink from the cups as well, sealing the families together.

Their wedding rituals include apalace visit where the ceremony is held, purificationwhere there’s an exorcism of any evil spirits, food offerings to God, recital of Shinto prayers and the exchange of nuptial cups which makes the marriage official.


With numerous tribes in Nigeria, the most popular are Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa. Nigerian ceremonies are a time for celebration, love and entertainment. First is the Introduction Ceremony where the couple’s families meet for the first time. There is a gift exchange, and the bride’s family usually provides the groom with a list of what he needs to give to the family in order to accept an engagement.

In Igbo tribes, the bride’s family presents a dowry list to the groom who must complete this list to follow through with marriage. Sometimes, the dowry includes hard-to-find items to see how far the groom will go for his potential bride.

In Hausa tribes, the groom-to-be must be put under a certain test. They must withstand 100 lashes to prove their love for their bride! Traditions say if the men indicate that he is in any pain, the marriage is off!

Nigerian couples celebrate two weddings: one cultural ceremony and a religious one that happens days or weeks after the main one. The dress code goes as follows: instead of wearing white, the bride sports her tribal colors, wears the colors of her husband’s tribe or a combination of both. Fun facts: At the Yoruba wedding, the groom’s male friends position themselves into a “plank” pose on the ground right in front of the bride’s parents to show respect. Also, in this tribe, the couple performs a “lift test” when the husband lifts the bride symbolizing that he will take care of her throughout the marriage. The guest list is unlimited as anyone is welcome to this celebration!