Photo Credit: Wedding Resource
The traditional wedding ceremony is usually very private and formal, taking place at a shrine with only close family present. Of course, a lot of couples opt for the more non traditional ceremony with a lot more people; some still have a ceremony in front of a shrine, but inside the hotel where the reception and festivities are. A Shinto priest performs the ceremony, the couple is purified and drinks sake before reading words of commitment. The ‘san-san-kudo’ sake ceremony is part of the wedding vows and symbolizes the union of two people and two families. The wedding ceremony ends with symbolic offerings to kami (Shinto gods), typically small tree twigs called ‘sakaki.’ Guests are expected to give money at the reception in small, beautifully decorated packets to help pay for the cost. Throughout the reception, the bride and even sometimes the groom will change clothes several times to symbolize their preparedness to return to everyday life.
Photo Credit: Russian World Forums
A couple will apply at the wedding registry office, ZAGS, several months in advance. They will then think about their decision and go back for their official marriage certificate on their wedding day. Traditionally, the wedding rings are provided by the groom and are worn on the right hand. Engagement rings are a recent addition to Russian weddings that were introduced with Western customs. On the wedding day, the bride’s parents pretend to steal her away and ask the groom for a ransom. He will pay some symbolic monetary value or jewelry, get back his bride, and then they head to ZAGS for their official registration ceremony. After that, they go to a beautiful location for pictures followed by greeting their guests and celebrating together. And of course, there must be plenty of liquor and food, because a traditional Russian wedding lasts at least two days!
Photo Credit: Irish Central
“Marry in May and rue the day,” or “Marry in April if you can, joy for maiden and for man!” Wedding dresses for the traditional Irish bride were not white, but blue (still symbolizing purity); although nowadays the blue dress is more rare to see. Brides used to carry horseshoes to bring good luck to the ceremony and the rest of the marriage. Since those are heavy and a little inconvenient, they now place items to represent a horseshoe in their hair, bouquet, embellished on their dress, etc. During the ceremony, the bride and groom literally tie the knot! Rope, cord or ribbon is tied around the couple’s clasped hands in bright colors (or those matching the wedding theme). Another superstitious Irish tradition is to give guests small bells at the ceremony to help ward off evil spirits. If you don’t want to risk all of your guests ringing bells at the same time and annoying you more than warding off spirits, you can wear a bracelet, anklet or small personal charm with bells.