Unique Wedding Traditions in Europe

There is a great range of European wedding traditions cultures and customs in Europe, and the insights on how these traditions came about are truly special. Here are some European wedding traditions that you can use to celebrate your wedding day. You can use them to add a special flavour to your wedding or even incorporate them into your ceremony at a destination wedding.

Greece

From ancient history to magnificent architecture, Greece has it all. The beautiful country is known for its rich culture and the various romantic traditions that go along with weddings there are also notable. Movies have been made about these wedding customs in the past so they must be something worth looking into!

Greek Wedding Dances

Dancing at a Greek wedding is not only for the bride and groom, but it’s great fun for all guests to participate. The Tsamiko dance is popular with everyone because it’s a traditional folk dance that can be done by anyone who wants to get involved! For this style of dancing, you’ll need some beautiful Greek music playing in the background.

Smashing Plates

The high spirits and fun involved in smashing plates on your wedding day have been linked to the idea of Kefi, a wellness concept that outlines good luck and happiness. It’s become iconic in mainstream media as well- it is a cultural staple among Greek traditions. If you want to incorporate some form of cultural wellness into your marriage, try this out for size! Make sure you put some Greek music alongside the act.

Wedding Crowns

Crowns worn by the bride and groom on their wedding day signify a tradition where rulers were crowned and symbolize wisdom, justice, and integrity. In addition to these symbols of authority, they also represent Aphrodite-Goddess of love. Crowns from historical Greek weddings are typically made out of olive branches or vines.

greek wedding dance

The Tsamiko traditional Greek wedding dance

France

Aside from Paris- the most romantic city in the world- France also holds a list of wholesome French wedding traditions that have symbolical meaning. Such traditions take your wedding day to an elevated level of romance and uniqueness.

Two Family Union

In French weddings, traditions focus on the civility and harmony of two families- the bride and grooms. There is also less emphasis put on gender in these weddings, with brides being able to offer another type of gift or jewellery when they get one from their groom.

La Noce

The tradition of following the bride and groom is called La noce in French, which translates to ‘the wedding.’ The idea behind this ceremony is for guests to follow the newlyweds to different locations on their wedding day while making as much noise as possible as a form of celebration.

Croquembouche

A wedding croquembouche is an alternative wedding cake that is a traditional French dessert, consisting of high conical towers made from choux cream filled with pastries. It’s optional to top it with chocolate sauce and caramel, or cover it in strings of sweets like caramel and almonds for decoration.

bride with wedding Croquembouche cake

A bride with Croquembouche wedding cake

Italy

Many people choose to have their weddings in Italy because of the luxurious atmosphere that the country has to offer, as well as its striking architecture and visual appeal. Aside from this, Italian wedding traditions are very different by providing a cultural distinction with an additional layer of interest and sophistication.

White Dresses Not Allowed

The non-white dress tradition is mainly for the guests and has been around for many years. You would need to consider this tradition if they want your wedding filled with colours.

Throwing of the Rice

In ancient Roman times, rice throwing was a tradition that symbolized fertility for the newly married couple. This has long continued until today.

La Tarantella

La Tarantella is an Italian folk dance that comes from Italy and is commonly performed at their weddings. It’s similar to the bunny hop where people form a line, but it’s played in circles instead around the couple – and you are required to go and spin faster around the couple as the song tempo goes up.

vintage italian wedding car

A vintage Italian Wedding car

Spain

Spanish weddings are traditionally Catholic. This means that couples usually opt to get married in a church rather than an outdoor or distinctive type of wedding plan. Spanish weddings also tend to be livelier than their traditional weddings.

Orange Blossoms

Orange blossoms are common in Spain and a beautiful tradition of Spanish weddings. For many Spaniards, the orange blossom is a representation of contentment- it speaks to achieving hope for the future for the husband and wife.

Black Dresses

Spanish weddings are much less likely to have white dresses in them than black dresses, at Catholic weddings. And this is because the colour black symbolizes loyalty and commitment – it’s usually part of a traditional wedding phrase “until death do us part”. Currently, the bride may wear either black or white depending on preference.

Seguidillas Manchegas

The Seguidillas Manchegas is a traditional dance that originates in Hispanic cultures. This dance has also been called the money dance, which symbolizes good fortune for eternity for the wedded couple.

Spanish Bride Cuts cake with a sword

A Spanish Bride & Groom cut a wedding cake with a sword

Germany

Germany has some special traditions and customs that are unique to the country. These traditions are mainly brought in from many years ago.

Abducting The Bride (Brautentführung)

This German wedding tradition is a widespread one. In this specific case, the groom’s best man would be tasked with abducting her in order for them to have a pub crawl. The bride would then need to leave small clues for the groom on where they could be found. On finding them, he’d pay the bill to release her.

Bridal Veil Dance (Schleiertanz)

The German legend says that whoever tears the biggest piece of fabric from a veil will be married next. Female guests and bridesmaids do this by holding it over the bride and groom and tearing at it until someone has torn off more than anyone else.

Polterabend

The old tradition of smashing porcelain and stoneware to get rid of evil spirits is still practised in some parts of Germany. Some people also burn the groom’s trousers or bride’s bra, symbolizing the end of bachelorhood and a new beginning as a married couple.

Brautentfuhrung bride

A kidnapped bride is freed

Sweden

In the land of Sweden, marriage is slightly different from other cultures. There are unique Swedish wedding traditions that you might find interesting!

Bride & Groom Share Kisses

In Sweden, the bride and groom kiss everyone at their wedding- not just each other. This tradition is normal in that country; it simply shares the special day with others on a more physical level so don’t be too shocked when you see a queue of men lining up for the Bride.

More Speeches

If you have friends that like to chat, here’s a Swedish tradition for you – weddings in Sweden take a longer period of time due to the number of speeches given by the bridal party. The custom is that there should be over ten speeches delivered- if your friends want to tell embarrassing stories about each other, try and see if only one or two of your friends will give a speech!

Bride & Groom Walk Down The Aisle Together

This cultural addition to the wedding ceremony is a break from tradition and sees the bride and groom walk side-by-side down the aisle rather than with their fathers. It symbolizes the journey that the couple will have in marriage.

queue to kiss bride

Belgium

Belgium is famous for its fascinating culture, with two linguistic groups (Dutch and French) along with some German speakers. The many wedding traditions from Belgium come from its famous cultural history

Mothers Flowers

In this tradition, the bride walks into her wedding ceremony with two flowers- one for her mother and one for her spouse’s mother after the vows. After she gives a flower to both of them during the vows it symbolizes that the bride welcomes her acceptance into her new family.

Wedding Seating Plans

A Belgian wedding seating plan may just be for you if you enjoy organization and planning. The order of the guests goes as followed: those who are most important will always be seated at the head of the table, with other guests to their left and right.

Embroidered Handkerchiefs

One fun and long-term tradition for families with mostly female members is to embroider their handkerchiefs and hang them on the wall of their home. The next girl in the family who gets married will then inherit that same handkerchief, which her name will be embroidered onto- passing it down through generations!

Embroidered Handkerchief wedding

An embroidered handkerchief with the wedding bouquet

Iceland

Icelandic weddings share many similarities to American and British wedding traditions. There are some of the unique features of Icelandic weddings that set them apart from other weddings in the world.

Kransekake

Kransekake is a layered and crumbly pastry where wrapped candy pieces can be put in the pastry. This is a traditional food that typically would only be served at weddings, christenings, confirmations but it has an Icelandic twist to make your wedding day even more special.

Ganga í eina sæng

This is the traditional way for a couple to be blessed in the bridal bed together by the pastor while sipping from the same cup. It symbolizes the unity between the newlyweds.

iceland wedding

Newlyweds outside a black church in Iceland

Portugal

Portugal, like Spain, also delivers a Catholic-based wedding due to its religious history. Portugal sets itself apart by contributing the following traditions in an otherwise considered Portuguese wedding.

Bride’s Money Dance

The money dance is a ritual of paying for the privilege of slow dancing with the bride at wedding receptions. The money given to her, usually by groomsmen or any young man, will be donated to a charity chosen by the bride and groom.

The Great Wedding Escape

The groom and bride will try to escape their own wedding to spend the first night together as husband and wife. The guests are encouraged to stop them by any means necessary, from trying to steal their keys to hiding their luggage.

About Author /

Emma is the editorial director and has been with the brand since 2021. She is is a writer and editor with over 5 years of experience covering Weddings, Fashion and beauty.

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