8 Old Weird Wedding Traditions You Didn't Know About

wedding traditions
There appears to be a growing trend of brides and their bridesmaids lifting up their gowns and flashing their butts in wedding photos. I don't really know if this will play out well in the future when their children or grandchildren browse through their wedding albums, but hey, you are the master of your matrimony and if you and your friends want to be cheeky, I say “bottoms up”! Anyways, mooning the wedding photographer isn't the craziest thing that man has conjured up in the history of marriage, showing a little cheek is nothing compared to these 8 old wedding traditions.
1. The Finger in The Cup
wedding cup
The Abyssinians (now known as the Habesha People, who inhabit the Horn of Africa) had a ceremony involving wine, a cup, and a hole. When two people get hitched, the ceremony goes by quite normally like how a marriage today would with feasting, merry-making, and seeing the new couple off to their room where the magic happens.
The next morning, the whole village gathers around to see how the night for the newly weds went. The groom will appear with a cup, and this said cup will have a hole drilled into it for the groom to put his finger through. The groom will offer the bride's father a drink from the cup, and if the two men happily drink the wine inside together, the marriage is happily sealed. However, if the groom lets go of the cup and withdraws his finger that has been plugging up the cup to let the wine flow out, the marriage is off. This tells everyone that the groom finds his wife to be “frail” (the term used by the author writing in 1802) and he is dissatisfied with her performance. No words are spoken when this happens, but the marriage is annulled and the father takes back his dowry and “frail” daughter back home.
- English Traditions and Foreign Customs, George Laurence Gomme 
2. Love is a Battlefield
wedding horse
The traditional Welsh marriage is a lot like the Chinese tea ceremonies we have today in Singapore, just that the Welsh back then were more hardcore. They started off with a very simple and quiet church ceremony, after which the bride and groom would go back to their separate houses. The groomsmen though, would get on their horses and charge toward the the bride's house like a battalion all the while being cheered on by a piper.
The bridesmaids would have already laid booby traps and obstacles all along the path to the bride's house, hindering the groomsmen from getting to her, like straw ropes tied between trees, and some sort of freestanding face-smacking machine called a gwyntyn (“quintain” in English) that was meant to knock people off their horses. A groomsmen can literally die or break his neck in an attempt to whisk the bride back to his friend! Even if none of the groom's friends died or got severely injured, the bride's friends would block their way and demand trials of skill (games) that could not be declined. If they won, they are still nowhere near in claiming the bride.
After many challenges, they would get into the bride's house but it doesn't stop there yet. They had to recite poetry and sing witty songs through the door to the girls inside the bride's room, it is only when the girls in the room run out of poetry and songs to sing back to them that the door is opened. The men would gently carry the bride and ride off with the bride's friends in hot pursuit. Then everyone would have another pretend fight.
At the end of the day if no one breaks a neck while falling off his horse, the bride would be transported to her husband's home where the party would continue well into the night.
- The Cambrian Popular Antiquities, Peter Roberts 
3. The Touching Dance
barnyard wedding
The Lillooet Indians, from what is now British Columbia, had a ritual called “the touching dance.” This is not a marriage ceremony, but it is what leads up to a marriage or marriages. Think Prom where people dance, except that the unmarried girls wear a sash. A man will grab hold of a girl's sash if he wants to marry her, and the girl has the option to accept or reject him. If she doesn't wish to marry him, she will pluck the sash out of his hands, and he is to leave. When the dance ends, the chief will call out the names of the couples still attached. If the girl had allowed the man to hold her sash until the end of the dance, they were then considered married.
- The History of Human Marriage, Volume 2, Westermarck 
4. The “Mummy” Bride
bride of frakenstein
Once upon a time in Russia, there lived the Kamschatkadal (Kamchadal). If a Kamschatkadal man wanted to marry a girl, he had to basically volunteer to become a slave to her parents. When her parents are satisfied with his labor, they will give him permission to marry their daughter. They will do so by telling him to go find her and strip her naked, because that is what awesome parents do. Then it gets even weirder.
Once word gets out that the man is on the hunt to strip his bride-to-be, all the women in the village will protect her and pile on layers and layers of clothes and fabrics on her so that she looks like a mummy. If he gets lucky one day and find her loosely guarded, he will pounce on her and tear the clothes off her body. While he does this, an alarm will go off alerting all the village women. The women will come to the bride's aid, beating, kicking, punching, scratching and doing everything in their power to fend off her “attacker”. If he is beaten back, the hunt continues after he has recuperated from his injuries. But if he manages to strip her completely, he runs away because that's the gentlemanly thing to do. But tradition calls for the bride to “tenderly” call him back and invite him into bed.
- English Traditions and Foreign Customs, George Laurence Gomme
5. Whipped Wife
Somewhere around 1814 in Russia, a man can check out a woman's “goods” before he decides whether he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. His female friends will get the bride naked and check her for defects so that they can report it back to the man. If the man is able to accept all her imperfections, they will have a church ceremony where instead of rice, hops are thrown on the bride with the well-intended wish that she has as many babies as hops on the floor. Then a wedding feast is served which the bride and groom cannot partake it, they can only look on in starvation as they see their guests devour all things delectable. Meanwhile in the background, a choir of children will sing the most obscene, dirty songs the language allows. Finally the wedding moves into the marital chamber, where the husband has concealed a small whip in one of his boots and a trinket in another.
The husband will instruct the bride to pull of his boots. If the bride pulls off the boot with the trinket inside first, it is considered a good omen and he will give it to her. However, if the bride initially pulls off the boot that contained the whip, he will whip her with it as a sign of what she is to expect in the future. Then the couple are left alone in the room to carry out the deed, while a couple of old women wait outside the door. After they are done having sex, the wife has to present to the women, “the marks of her virginity”, basically the blood-stained bedsheets. The old women will then braid the bride's hair and go down to demand dowry from the parents.
- English Traditions and Foreign Customs, George Laurence Gomme
6. Swedish Wives Get Upper Foot
bride's feet
In Sweden last time, there was a list of rules to follow to make sure that the bride gets the upper hand in marriage enough to make any real feminist happy. Here is a list of whimsical Swedish wedding traditions that was recorded in 1835.
1. A bride must try to see her groom before he sees her; then she will be in charge of things.
2. For the same reason, she needs to keep at least one foot in front of his during the ceremony...
3. Then she has to be quick and sit down first at the wedding banquet.
4. And finally, she should drop something, as if by accident. Then her groom will bend over to pick it up, and she will have assurance that he will “bend his back to her will” the rest of the marriage.
- Scandinavian Popular Traditions and Superstitions, E. Lumley
7. In Case He Forgets to Have Sex
This tradition dates back to around 1921. In Belarus, the groom's bestman follows the couples into the bedroom, wait until they are naked underneath the covers and then he will beat his friend with a whip while shouting “Look at each other, kiss, and embrace! FAST!” In old Colombia, the whip-man will also follow the couple to their marital hut and yell at the groom to “TAKE THE WOMAN!” while lashing at him with a whip too, the same whip which the tribe uses for funerals.
- The History of Human Marriage, Volume 2, Westermarck
8. Cats Rule
bride with cat
If you are looking for a wife in 19th century Netherlands, you might want to take in mind this very important advice that they keep dishing out:
“Those who do not like cats will not get handsome wives.”
I am sure the majority of the internet will agree with that.
- Northern Mythology: North German and Netherlandish Popular Traditions and Superstitions, E. Lumley
Information Source: Mental Floss

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