The one thing every human society has in common is marriage. It doesn't matter how isolated or backwards it is, if you stick around long enough then you'll find yourself at something at least resembling a wedding. That being said, it will almost certainly not be what you expect. In fact it is likely to be gross, confusing, terrifying, or any mixture of the three. But as you read this list of strange wedding traditions just think to yourself – who's the weird one?
1. Blackening of the bride
Imagine the most disgusting things in the world. You got it? Now imagine all of your friends throwing those things at you, covering you in grossness, and then tying you to a tree. This is the typical pre-marital humiliation that Scottish brides endures in certain parts of the country. Supposedly if you can handle this you can handle anything, including marriage.
2. A salty wedding song
Although weddings are usually accompanied by tears, brides and females of the Tujia people in China take matters to a whole new level. Starting one whole month in advance the bride starts to cry for 1 hour everyday. Ten days into the ordeal the mom joins the picture, and then ten days later the grandmother does the same. By the end of the month every female in the family is crying alongside the bride . Why? Well, it's actually supposed to be an expression of joy as the women weep in different tones, kind of like a song…a very salty, wet song.
3. Hold it in
For tribes of the Tidong community in Northern Borneo newly married couples are required to be confined to their house while not emptying their bowels or urinating for three days and nights. Bonding time?
4. A whale of a tale
In Fiji not only are men expected to ask their father in law for his daughters hand in marriage, they are also expected to bring him a whale tooth. Lets think about this, excluding the black market the only place in the world to get a whale tooth is in the mouth of the largest mammal on earth, which also happens to spend most of its time underwater. That's true love.
5. It takes two
In Southern Sudan people of the Neur tribe believe that the marriage is not complete until the woman has had two children. If she fails to do so, the groom is able to seek a divorce.
6. Massai mucous
At a Massai wedding in Kenya it is very common to see the bride's father bless his daughter by spitting on her head and breasts before she leaves the village with her new husband.
7. Kissing party
In Sweden, whenever either the bride or groom leaves their table to use the bathroom the other gets kissed…a lot. If the groom has to go then every male in the reception will get a chance to kiss the bride and vice versa.
8. Butch up
These days its usually the groom that's concerned with packing on the muscle, but that's only because this isn't Sparta. In Spartan culture, the women would shave their heads and dress up like men before waiting to get stolen away by their groom-to-be. Come on, you've seen 300, what did you expect?
9. A trashy time
In France, after the wedding ceremony is complete, the friends of the bride and groom would collect all of the leftovers, bits of trash, and anything else they deem to be sufficiently gross within a toilet bowl which they would then force the bride and groom to drink out of. Although these days the trash is often substituted with chocolate, you're still drinking brown stuff out of a real live toilet bowl.
10. Fairies on the floor
In Ireland when the bride and groom are dancing the bride's feet have to stay on the floor. The Irish believe that if they don't, evil fairies will come and sweep her away. The logic? Evil fairies like beautiful things. The bride is beautiful. The fairies can only get to her if she is not touching the ground.
One of the stranger wedding traditions on our list, this one comes to us from the Irish counties of Leitrim and Mayo. In these counties there are 9 young men that are collectively designated as "straw boys". On the eve before the wedding the strawboys go to the house of the bride and dance with her. If there are any other women in the home they dance with them too.
12. Aim carefully
In Yugur culture (an ethnic Chinese minority) the groom will actually shoot his bride with a bow and arrow before the wedding…three times. Ok, so the arrows don't have arrowheads, but still, thats like getting shot with rubber bullets. Once the deed is done, the groom will collect the arrows and break them, thus ensuring that they will love each other forever.
13. The human rug
On the Maruesas Islands of French Polynesia after the wedding reception is over the relatives of the bride all lay side by side in the dirt, face down. The bride and groom then walk across them like some sort of human rug.
14. Shoe thieves
In some parts of India the groom is required to take off his shoes before approaching the wedding altar. As soon as he does this mayhem ensues. Everyone from the bride's side of the family tries to steal them while everyone from the groom's side of the family tries to protect them. If the bride's family succeeds in their endeavor, then they are allowed to hold the shoes hostage until they get paid a ransom.
In some countries the guests bring the bride and groom new dishes as gifts. In Germany the guests do the same and then they smash them. Supposedly the noise scares away evil spirits.
16. Animal attraction
Although no country in the world officially recognizes human/animal marriages it is practiced in many countries like India to ward off bad spirits.
17. Motherly assistance
Some villages in Africa require an older woman to accompany the newlyweds into their bedroom on the first night of their marriage in order to "show the bride the ropes". Although this is usually a village elder, sometimes it can be the brides own mother. And you thought your parents were nosy.
18. Serious Business
In the Congo, if you want to ruin someone's wedding just hire a comedian. In order for the marriage to be taken seriously the bride and groom are not allowed to smile throughout the entire ceremony.
19. Kidnapping the bride
Practiced in many countries throughout Africa and Asia it can often lead into woman being raped and/or forced into marriage, especially in nations like Rwanda. In Zimbabwe it was abolished decades back. The practice was was called musenga bere.
In France the friends and family of the newlyweds congregate outside the newlyweds home on the first night of their marriage while proceeding to bang on pot and pans, yell, and just in general be as annoying as possible. Not only would this complicate the whole "lets be romantic" thing, the newlyweds are also required to go outside and appease them with snacks and drinks!
When a wedding is over in Korea, friends of the groom remove his socks, tie a rope around his ankles and start beating his feet with fish in order to prepare him for his first night as a married man. Maybe we're missing something?
22. Fat farms
Beauty is relative and there is nothing in the world that exposes that more than the country of Mauritania. Evidently there is a huge difference between a fat camp and a fat farm.We westerners go to fat camps to get skinny, Mauritanian girls go to fat farms to get fat…and eventually married.
23. Wearing white
Although to Westerners it seems normal, to most of the world a white bridal dress is very strange. In most countries the bridal dress is very vibrant and full of color. So why are western brides so limited in their options? It is said to have started with Queen Victoria in 1840 when she donned a white dress in her marriage to Prince Albert. In her day, this was very controversial because the color white was associated with mourning.
24. Save the date
There is a group of people called the Daur that live in Chinese Inner Mongolia. In order to finalize the wedding date the bride and groom are required to kill a baby chick while holding the knife together. They then proceed to gut the chick and inspect it's liver. If the liver looks good then they are allowed to set a date. If not, then they have to repeat the process until they find a satisfactory liver.
25. Marry a tree
In India women born as Mangliks (an astrological combination when Mars and Saturn are both under the 7th house) are thought to be cursed and likely to cause their husband an early death. In order to ward of this curse they must be married first…to a tree. The tree is then destroyed and the curse is broken. Poor tree.