Wedding Customs Tips

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What should I know about getting a marriage license?

License to Remember

Things you'll want to remember about getting your marriage license:

*You'll have to show proof of your age and name with your birth certificate or other ID, such as a driver's license.
*If you've been previously married, you'll need proof of divorce, death or annulment.
*Remember to bring cash or a check to pay for the license---most offices don't take credit cards ; )
*Sometimes you can pick up the license, and sometimes it will be mailed; be sure to ask which at your office.

What is a Welsh marriage custom?

Welsh Spoons

Welsh men spent a great deal of time at sea. While away from home, they would carve "love spoons" from a single piece of wood, carving symbolic images and designs such as love, faith, devotion, etc.. When the man came home from sea, he would give the spoon to the woman he wanted to marry.

How can I make changing my name easier?

Name Change information

One of the often under rated headaches for new brides is the necessity of name change notification. You will need to notify financial institutions, government agencies, physicians, credit bureaus and personal contacts. To simplify the process there are one stop, change sites online to offer assistance, try

Where does everyone stand in the receiving line?

Receiving Line: Who Goes Where?

Traditionally the bride's parents are first in the receiving line, followed by the bride and groom and then the groom's parents. You can also include your honor attendants in the line if you want, but it's not necessary, especially if you have a small wedding.

What is an Italian wedding like?

Italian Traditions

The groom carries a small piece of iron in his pocket during the ceremony to ward off the evil eye. The money dance is still very common at Italian weddings and today the money is most often placed in a satin bag carried by the bride.

Food, food, food....from the antipasto to the sugared almonds {which are said to ensure fertility and should be tied in bundles of 5's or 7's}, food plays a large part in traditional Italian weddings.

In the small villages of Italy, after the Wedding Mass, the newly married couple walks through the town plaza, greeting their friends, relatives, and neighbors. There the villagers set up a sawhorse, a log and a double handled rip-saw. The newlyweds must saw the log apart with the prompting and cheering of the crowd. When the job is finished and the log cut, it symbolizes that the man and woman must work together in all of life's tasks.

In days gone by, many Italians avoided marrying during the months of May and August. May was reserved for the veneration of the Virgin Mary, and August was thought to invite bad luck and sickness.

What should I know about winter weddings?

Winter Weather Policies

Make sure to speak to all your vendors to find out their policies on winter storms. Do they have backup plans? How do they determine cancellation based on weather? Do they offer refunds? It is also actually possible to get "weather insurance" at a reasonable price, so ask your insurance professional for assistance.

Where do we get our marriage license?

Go Get That License!

You'll apply for your marriage license at the county clerk's office in the state where you want to be married. In some states you have to apply in the county or town where you're going to be married.

Should I trust my wedding coordinator?

Get it in Writing

Even if planning feels like an intimate experience with your wedding professionals, you should still insist on getting everything in writing. A respected professional should by no means be insulted. If something doesn't go the way it should, I signed contract will give you some recourse.

What are some Jewish wedding traditions?

Jewish Glass Breaking

This is the reading generally given at Jewish ceremonies:

"The breaking of the glass at the end of a wedding ceremony serves to remind of two very important aspects of a marriage. The bride and groom - and everyone - should consider these marriage vows as an irrevocable act- just as permanent and final as the breaking of this glass is unchangeable. But the breaking of the glass also is a warning of the frailty of a marriage. That sometimes a single thoughtless act, breech of trust, or infidelity can damage a marriage in ways that are very difficult to undo - just as it would be so difficult to undo the breaking of this glass. Knowing that this marriage is permanent, the bride and groom should strive to show each other the love and respect befitting their spouse and love of their life."

What African customs can we use in our wedding?

Crossing Sticks

In a tradition carried down by African-American slaves, couples symbolically demonstrated their commitment to each other by crossing tall wooden sticks. The sticks represent the power and life of trees; by crossing the sticks the couple makes known their wish for a strong beginning to their married life.

What is handfasting?


Handfasting is a marriage tradition in Scotland and other countries and cultures. The bride and groom are symbolically tied together with cords, and in some ceremonies small cuts are made on their wrists, which are bound together with a cloth. The vows go something like this:

Know now before you go further, that since your lives have crossed in this life you have formed ties between each other. As you seek to enter this state of matrimony you should strive to make real, the ideals which give meaning to both this ceremony and the institution of marriage.

With full awareness, know that within this circle you are not only declaring your intent to be handfasted before your friends and family, but you speak that intent also to your creative higher powers.

The promises made today and the ties that are bound here greatly strengthen your union; they will cross the years and lives of each soul's growth.

Do you still seek to enter this ceremony?

Yes, we seek to enter.

In times past it was believed that the human soul shared characteristics with all things divine. It is this belief which assigned virtues to the cardinal directions; East, South, West and North. It is in this tradition that a blessing is offered in support of this ceremony.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East. Communication of the heart, mind, and body Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun. The knowledge of the growth found in the sharing of silences.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South. Warmth of hearth and home The heat of the heart's passion The light created by both To lighten the darkest of times.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West. The deep commitments of the lake The swift excitement of the river The refreshing cleansing of the rain The all encompassing passion of the sea.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North Firm foundation on which to build Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives A stable home to which you may always return.

Each of these blessings from the four cardinal directions emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and successful union. Yet they are only tools. Tools which you must use together in order to create what you seek in this union.

I bid you look into each others eyes.

[Groom's Name], Will you cause her pain?
I May
Is that your intent?

[Bride's Name], Will you cause him pain?
I may
Is that your intent?

*To Both*
Will you share each other's pain and seek to ease it?

And so the binding is made. Join your hands
*First cord is draped across the bride and grooms hands*

[Bride's Name], Will you share his laughter?

[Groom's Name], Will you share her laughter?

*To Both*
Will both of you look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?

And so the binding is made.
*Second cord is draped across the couples hands*

[Bride's Name], Will you burden him?
I may
Is that your intent?

[Groom's Name], Will you burden her?
I may
Is that your intent?

*To Both*
Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?

And so the binding is made.
*Drape third cord across the couples, hands*

[Bride's Name], will you share his dreams?

[Groom's Name], will you share her dreams?

*To Both*
Will you dream together to create new realities and hopes?

And so the binding is made.
*Drape fourth cord across the couples hands*

[Groom's Name], will you cause her anger?
I may
Is that your intent?

[Bride's Name], will you cause him anger?
I may
Is that your intent?

*To Both*
Will you take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union?
We will.

And so the binding is made.
*Drape fifth cord across the couples hands*

[Bride's Name], Will you honor him?
I will

[Groom's Name], Will you honor her?
I will

*To Both*
Will you seek to never give cause to break that honor?
We shall never do so.

And so the binding is made.
*Drape sixth cord across the couples hands*

*Tie cords together while saying:*
The knots of this binding are not formed by these cords but instead by your vows. Either of you may drop the cords, for as always, you hold in your own hands the making of breaking of this union.

*Once cords are tied together they are removed and placed on altar*

What Korean wedding customs are there?

Giving of the Goose

Before the wedding takes place, the groom gives his future mother-in-law a wild goose (nowadays it's usually a wooden goose). Because wild geese mate for life, the wooden goose is a promise that he will care for her daughter for life.

What African customs can we use in our wedding?

Jumping the Broom

During slavery in the United States, African American couples were not allowed to marry formally. Instead, to make a public declaration of their commitment and love, a man and woman jumped over a broom into marriage, while others beat on drums. (The broom has long held significant meaning for the various Africans, symbolizing the start of homemaking for the newlywed couple.) Today many African-American couples include this symbolic custom in their wedding ceremony, working it in directly before the recession.

What Japanese wedding customs are there?

Sharing the Sake

In Japanese weddings, there is a custom of sharing sake, which is Japanese rice wine. The ceremony is known as san-san-kudo and symbolizes forming a bond between the bride, the groom and their families. The couple takes sips from three cups of sake, and then their parents also take sips.

What sort of things should we look for in our contracts?

Sneaky Charges

If you are having a reception at a restaurant or catering hall, look very carefully at the extra charges that are included in your contract, and be prepared to question them. There is no need for a cake cutting charge. You will have waiters: they have nothing to do at that point in the evening but cut cake. Monster gratuities for maitre d's fall into the same category. Actually, designated gratuities are totally out of line. The word gratuity represents a discretionary amount of money for good service: it should not be dictated to you. Tip cups on the bar are an absolute no-no. Bathroom attendents with tip baskets up are a no-no. A wedding is a hosted event, and should feel like one.

What is a Philipino wedding like?

Phillipino Traditions

A white cord is loosely looped around the bride and groom's neck in a figure 8 during a Philipino ceremony, symbolizing the fact that the couple will now share a lifelong bond. It is usually placed around the neck by a sponsor chosen by the couple. Often, another sponsor will pin a large veil to the bride's head and place it around the grooms shoulder to symbolize unity.

The parents of the couple also participate in lighting a unity candle.

Arras is another common filipine tradition where the priest drops coins into the hands of the couple to symbolize fidelity and wealth.

What do I wear to a Chinese wedding?

Dressing for a Chinese Wedding

Never wear black to a Chinese wedding for you will be wishing the happy couple bad luck! Instead, wear celebratory colors such as red, pink or purple. Place a small evergreen branch in your hair to wish the couple “longevity.”

What Chinese-American wedding customs are there?

Chinese-American Tea Ceremony

Some Chinese-American weddings feature a tea ceremony. During the tea ceremony, the bride and groom serve cups of sweet tea to their families. After the tea is offered and the families have a sip, they return a red packet called hong bao containing jewelry or money for the couple.

What African customs can we use in our wedding?

African Hand-Tying

In some African tribes, the bride and groom have their wrists tied together with cloth to symbolize their marriage.

What African customs can we use in our wedding?

Nigerian Wedding Garb

In Nigeria, the groom and groomsmen in wear agbada, traditional Nigerian tunics and pants, and the bride and bridesmaids wear asooke fugu, brightly colored Nigerian jackets, headwraps and skirts

What should I make sure is in my contracts?


Be sure that there are refund clauses written into all of your contracts. The clause should stipulate what the vendor will pay you if they cancel their services, and what you will get back if you cancel their services.

What African customs can we use in our wedding?

Kola Custom

In many African countries, couples incorporate kola nuts into their wedding ceremonies. The kola nut symbolizes the couple's desire to always help heal one another, and couples often share a kola nut during the wedding.

What do we do to get a marriage license?

Waiting, and Waiting . . .

In some states there is a waiting period between when you apply for the license and when you'll actually get it. You'll need to take this into account, especially if you're getting married out-of-town.

What Chinese wedding traditions are there?

Chinese Wedding Traditions

In China, female relatives give brides pocketbooks filled with gold jewelry. Chinese custom says that red is the color of love and joy; brides often wear red dresses and use red candles and gift boxes at their weddings.

How can we teach people ethnic dances for our reception?

Boogie Down at Your Shower

Are you going to have some ethnic dances such as polkas at your wedding reception? Consider having a mother, aunt, or other shower guest (or uncle or father if it's a bride and groom shower) teach everyone how to dance at the shower. It's a good way to get everyone to know each other and they'll all be prepared for the wedding reception!

How should my daughter introduce my beau in the receiving line?

Introductions in the Receiving Line?

Q: How should my daughter, the bride, introduce my beau in the receiving line?

A: Traditionally in a receiving line, only the couple's parents/stepparents stand with the bride and groom. If your daughter wishes your beau to also be in the receiving line, he would stand next to you. As guests go through the line, they generally just give their best wishes and say hello to each person individually; there's no need for the bride or groom to introduce every guest to every person in the line---it's a moment for them to bask in, not to be worrying about introducing guests to each other. If there are many guests who are not familiar with your beau, then you should be the one to introduce him however you feel comfortable: "This is my boyfriend," or "This is my friend," or "This is my beau," would all be fine.

What Russian customs can I use in my wedding?

Russian Wedding Customs

Does your or your fiance(e)'s family come from Russia? To add a little Russian flair to your wedding give your guests sweets as favors. After the wedding ceremony, have the bride and groom race to see who will be the first to stand on a white rug---according to tradition, whoever steps on it first will be the master of the household.

What do we do to get a marriage license?

Marriage Testing

In many states you must have a blood test done to check whether either partner has a venereal disease or rubella (measles). Make sure you take written proof of your test results with you when you apply for your license.

What Chinese wedding traditions are there?

The Big Banquet

Chinese weddings always feature a large banquet involving up to a dozen courses, lavishly prepared and displayed. Typical dishes include a whole fish (the word for fish is similar to the word for abundance); lotus seed dessert (request for children); and bird's nest soup.

What African customs can we use in our wedding?

She Sells Sea Shells

In African weddings brides wear, smooth cowrie shells, a symbol of fertility, on necklaces or as decoration on dresses and headpieces. Found on the coast of West Africa, cowrie shells were once used as money and today are used for purification and as a symbol of power and beauty.

What Italian tradition can we use in our wedding?

Italian Wedding Traditions

The tradition of giving out jordan (candied) almonds is an Italian one---place pretty little or tulle bags (called 'bomboniere'), personalized with the couple's names and wedding date, at each guest's table setting. The sugared almonds symbolize the sweet and bitter of life.

What African marriage customs are there?

Ghana Go-Ahead

In Ghana, the groom asks permission to marry the bride by a custom called "knocking on the door," in which he and his family visit his potential in-laws, bringing gifts. If the bride's family accepts his "knock", the families celebrate and begin to plan the wedding.

What is a Muslim wedding like?

Muslim Traditions

The Muslim marriage is a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions. Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to country. The officiant of the Muslim ceremony is the Molvi or Imam.

Barat - The groom's friends and family arrive at the bride's house or ceremony hall and are greeted by the bride's family.

Mahr - The gift that is given by the husband to his wife at wedding.

Nikaah - The bride and groom sign the necessary legal
documents in front of the Molvi and their witnesses (friends and family). The bride and groom must consent to marry three times in the presence of the Molvi or

Ring Exchange - The bride and groom exchange rings to finalize their vows.

Dua - The Molvi recites religious prayers from the Quran (Holy Book) to bless the couple.

Rukhsati - The bride's family bids farewell in an official "send off." This step symbolizes the bride's entrance into a new phase of her life.

Walima - Following the ceremony, the groom's family offers a wedding reception for family and friends to celebrate the marriage and introduce the newlyweds.

What Welsh customs can I use in my wedding?

Welsh Bridal Custom

Welsh brides give their bridesmaids sprigs of myrtle for their bouquets. According to custom, if the plant roots and blossoms, they will marry soon. If you have Welsh ancestry, try incorporating myrtle into your bouquets and flower arrangements.

What Italian tradition can we use in our wedding?

Italian Wedding Ribbon-Tying

Want to add some Italian flair to your wedding ceremony? In Italy ribbons symbolize the tying together of two lives. Tie a ribbon across the front of the church door to signify the wedding bond.

What about guys changing their names?

Men Changing Names

If the man wants to change his name at marriage, he'll need to look at the marriage certificate to see if there is a space to indicate a name change. If there's not, he'll need court papers to legally change his name---ask the county clerks' office or a lawyer about thisi procedure.

What should we know about getting married in Hawaii?

Weddings in Hawaii

Getting married in Hawaii? Keep these tips from Blue Hawaii Weddings in mind:

  • Be sure that you have your marriage license appointment done at least 30 days prior to your arrival.
  • Bring your driver's license and birth certificate with you to present to the marriage license agent. Applications can be mailed to you in advance, however, applications for a marriage license will not be accepted by marriage license agents through the mail. It must be done in person in Hawaii.
  • The fee is $25.00 cash paid to the marriage license agent.
  • Public beach weddings are not "legal" in Hawaii, but if the ceremony is performed on hotel/resort property, it is legal.

What Armenian customs can I use in my wedding?

Armenian Brides

Do you have Armenian ancestry? As is the custom in Armenia, brides can wear red silk and place cardboard wings with feathers on their heads. Guests may also throw small coins at her (more 'to' her than 'at' her, though!).

The bride is Mexican, the groom is not. Are there Mexican customs for who pays for what for the wedding?

Mexican Traditions: Who Pays?

Many Mexican wedding traditions are similar to those in the United States. For instance, it's the family of the bride who is expect to host the wedding reception.

If you're unsure of how to plan, contact a Mexican wedding consultant or an etiquette expert familiar with those customs and traditions.

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Guru Spotlight
Shirley Tan