Ah, weddings. They’re as old as time, and some would say, quite boring affairs.
But not all cultures embrace the bog-standard wedding traditions of flowing white dresses, expensive flower tossing to singletons and overdone vows of commitment and declarations of love.
Some cultures boast rather interesting and strange ways to tie the knot. Here are some of the world’s most interesting wedding traditions.
Newlyweds who saw a log together, stay together
No suspenders, flannel or bushman beard required. Baumstamm sägen is a tradition that’s popular in southern Germany and rural areas where new married couples work together with a two-handled long saw to cut through a log with while wedding guests cheer them on.
Laurel Robbins, founder of Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel, performed this tradition at her wedding:
“I'm Canadian and my husband is German,” says Robbins. “We did it right after the wedding ceremony and explained the tradition to our Canadian guests who weren't familiar with it. I'll never forget the amused look on their faces!”
As well as amusing guests, Robbins says the ritual has great meaning, representing the first obstacle the couple will face. “It shows the couple that future challenges will be easier to deal with when you work together as a team …. Furthermore, it represents equality in the marriage, since both partners play an equal part.”
"I'll never forget the amused look on their faces!”
Kidnap the bride (it’s fun!)
True love, commitment and mock-kidnapping: this entertaining tradition occurs at Romanian weddings between the wee hours of midnight and 2am, where the groom’s friends ‘steal’ the bride.
The MC first announces the bride is missing, while she goes and hides, usually at the wedding venue. She then waits for her new husband to negotiate her release. Money or alcohol is often the trade of choice. The bride-stealing only lasts 30 minutes so guests can return to celebrating the wedding.
Solicitor, Marta Vlad, has been involved in many kidnappings and says newlyweds conduct this ritual as a way of doing something different and fun. She recalls how, at two weddings she’s recently attended, the grooms put on a show for their guests rather than trading with the kidnappers.
“One [groom] did some breakdancing, because he’s great at it, and the other groom used to be a bartender so he did some tricks with cocktail mixers and glasses,” explains Vlad.
Vlad says the meaning behind the tradition is based on some old-school ideas: “… it comes down to the fact that the bride becomes the groom’s responsibility once they are married, and he has to take care of her, and the not so great idea that a bride is the “possession” of the groom”.
The bride-stealing only lasts 30 minutes so guests can return to celebrating the wedding.
A (smelly) tradition for good luck
The unusual pre-wedding custom performed on the eastern seaboard of Scotland,, which sees the bride and groom being covered in rotten foodstuffs, is not for the faint hearted or weak stomached.
PhD student at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, Sheila Young, has been researching the ritual for the last five years.
She explains that the rural tradition, often called the ‘blackening’ takes place a few weeks before a wedding and aims to make the loved up couple feel as humiliated and disgusting as possible.
Here’s how the process works. First, the couple is tricked into being captured.
Family and friends lure the pair away by telling them they are being treated to a day of shopping or taken to a night out to the movies. Of course, the couple is not treated to anything. Instead, the bride and groom are dumped somewhere undesirable.
“You are then taken to a public place - often the village green - and often you are tied to goalposts or lampposts so you can't escape,” says Young. “Then your friends cover you from head to foot in a disgusting concoction which they generally have been brewing at home for weeks. For example, flour, eggs, custard, leftovers, manure, feathers, treacle. You name it could be in there …”
The purpose of this gross experience was once for good luck but nowadays it’s about maintaining tradition.
“Your parents did it, their parents did it and you will do it too.”
Watch this SBS Flashback documenting how some Australians are choosing to marry outside their ethnic background SBS On Demand: