Wedding traditions vary by region


Lexi Peterson, senior in family studies and human services, is set to marry her fiancé Gage Milota, senior in human ecology, in June 2014.

The wedding will be a traditional Christian ceremony with a pastor, in a church complete with the lighting of a unity candle and Peterson’s father walking her down the aisle. All of this, of course, is following a grand march of the groomsmen and bridesmaids, the best man and maid of honor, the ring bearers and the flower girl.

“A lot about my wedding is traditional,” Peterson said.

Swaying from tradition slightly, Peterson’s ring bearer “pillow” will be replaced with an engraved tree slice and her dress will have a piece of her grandfather’s shirt sewn into it.

While the Peterson-Milota wedding will embrace various time-honored traditions that are customary in American weddings, these are not automatically among other nations customs. For example, there are other cultures in which the tradition of a white dress differs.

“In China, the bride and the bridegroom all dress in red,” Jingyi Zhu, freshman in business, said.

The wearing of a white dress became notable following Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840. Until that point, a bride’s dress would generally be any color they liked as they would reuse the dress, if they even purchased a new dress at all. Because dresses were expensive, the average person would want a color that would not stain easily.

A similarity between Zhu’s and Peterson’s cultures is that it is considered bad luck if the bride and groom happen to see one another before the ceremony on the day of their wedding.

According to an article on, the wedding tradition insinuates misfortune among a married couple if they even glance at one another prior to the exchanging of vows. It began when arranged marriages were the norm. In arranged marriages, the couple-to-be were forbidden to see each other at all prior to the wedding because it essentially symbolized a business deal between the two families.

Then, on the day of their wedding, the bride and groom would finally get to meet. However they would have to wait until the ceremony, a strategy to ensure that the groom would not change his mind and call off the wedding. The veil, that brides still commonly wear today, was used in the past to ensure that the groom did not see what the bride looked like until near the end of the ceremony when it was far too late to back out of matrimony.

Though weddings are not commonly looked at as “transactions” in modern day, it is still possible that money can be exchanged customarily along with the marriage.

“On the day of the wedding, the bridegroom will ride a horse to pick up the bride,” Zhu said. “He needs to give money to the parents before they get married to thank the parents for giving birth to his wife.”

At the beginning of a Chinese wedding ceremony, there are three bows that take place.

“The first one is for the sky and the earth, the second is for the bridegroom’s parents and the third one the couple will bow to each other,” Zhu said.

Weddings across the world generally feature some form of a mingling event in celebration following the service. It is held as a way to be hospitable to those who attend the wedding and the couple receives society for the first time as a married couple.

In some cultures, it is common for there to be separate receptions for the bride’s and groom’s families.

“In China, following the wedding, the bride is sent to the couple’s room and waits there, while the bridegroom will treat the friends and relatives, and drink alcohol with them until night,” Zhu said. “When the treat is finished, the bridegroom will go to their room.”

Peterson will also have not one, but two wedding receptions. Originally from LeRoy, Kan., Peterson will be married in Arkansas and because of this, will have two receptions instead of one.

“One reception will be right after the ceremony, and we will have a big one after our honeymoon back home,” Peterson said. “The first one will be a cake and punch reception for everyone that traveled to the wedding. The second will have the classics: dinner, bouquet toss, first dance, father-daughter dance and garter toss.”

Peterson said the groom’s family will fund the reception and her family will fund the wedding, holding to tradition.

In Mexican culture, contrastingly, a portion of the wedding is funded through a “padrino system.” This is where the couple will ask several family members and friends to act as sponsors to help the couple financially on their big day. They can also assume various roles at the reception, one of which includes making a toast.

For Armando Rodriguez, freshman in fine arts, his parents have been padrinos at several weddings.

My parents have been padrinos at weddings for several family members where they gave money for the venue, the band and the cake,” Rodriguez said.