Wonder how people in other cultures from around the world tie the knot? We did and reached out to a few properties and a vessel that sails around the world to learn about the myriad ways to celebrate nuptials in other parts of the world. We are enchanted by what they reported and are excited to share the celebrations with you.
Hotel Ranga in Iceland is an epic location for all kinds of weddings from a candle-lit cave to a frozen waterfall photo shoot. They also offer modern-day pagan ceremonies allowing couples from wherever to invoke traditions from the Icelandic sagas. Icelandic paganism is about upholding tradition and a certain way of life, more spiritual than religious and for those in awe of nature. Rituals involved in these events, often performed in nature, can include verses from old Norse poems, an exchange of vows while the couple holds on to the oath ring – a metal hoop the size of a cake dish- and the passing of a big drinking horn which makes its way between the guests (if there are any) giving each one the chance to toast to the happy couple.
On the shore of Lake Atitlan sits a private home-turned luxury boutique hotel that offers the lake and its magnificent volcanoes as a backdrop for a traditional Mayan wedding. Located in a destination built upon ancient Mayan culture and practices, Casa-Palopó invites couples to tie the knot with a nuptial ceremony officiated by a Mayan Shaman, followed by a personalized Mayan Shaman blessing. The ancient ritual is performed in front of a fire pit and is meant to offer well-wishes from spirits who give this gift, for a continuous happy relationship. As memorable for guests as it is for the couple tying the knot, the ceremony can be held outdoors on a lush green patch of grass, amidst magical views of the three volcanoes and indigenous villages across the shore (an even more whimsical scenario during sunset). And for the more traditional couple, an elegant chapel just on top of the hill near the hotel is available instead.
The Aqua Expeditions’ vessels sail through some of the prettiest and most romantic places on the plane including Peru, Cambodia, and Vietnam. They shared the following information about getting married in Peru, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
The Aqua Expeditions team reports that in Peru it’s not a celebration without color, color, and more color.
Traditional Peruvian clothing is bright and vibrant with geometric designs that have been worn for over a thousand years. Hats are a standard staple and each region or village can be identified by the shape and style of each hat. Women wear many layers of colorful skirts and men wear ponchos and sandals. These outfits are worn on the wedding day, with a specially crafted skirt or poncho made for the happy bride and groom.
During the ceremony, an ancestor makes a speech reminding a couple of their duties in the marriage, the elder then blesses the couple immediately after. An interesting ritual called cake pull (cintas de la torta)is similar to catching the bouquet. An inexpensive ring or charm is tied to a ribbon and attached to the base of the wedding cake. Before the cake is cut, single female guests come up and pull the ribbon. The lucky lady that has the ring is the next to get married.
A traditional wedding (khmer) is a long and colorful affair known to last up to three days! There are seven different ceremonies to bless the wedded couple. Examples of the blessings include Soat Mun – which entails monks blessing the bride and groom; Gaat Sah – a cleansing ceremony symbolizing a fresh, new start and begins with a ritual hair cutting; and Bongvul Pbopul at which the bride and the groom are blessed by married couples at the ceremony. Other highlights of Cambodian weddings include singing four essential songs, a color theme for each ceremony, and the use of palm flowers as a token of goodwill and a way to bless the young couple. Celebrations go on with music, traditional food, and plenty of dancing.
In Vietnamese culture, the engagement party (ăn hỏi), wedding ceremony, and wedding reception fall on the same day! On a special day, the groom and his family will travel to the bride’s home bearing gifts of nuts, wine, and cakes wrapped in red paper and served on a red platter – it is believed that the vibrant color will bring luck to the couple. During the ceremony, the couple kneels and prays in front of the bride’s family asking for permission and approval from the bride’s ancestors. Once permission is granted, the couple bows to the parents as a sign of respect and then to each other, and then the lucky groom gives his bride the ring. When the ceremony is complete, the wedding parties meet their guests at the reception. It is essential for the bride, groom, and their parents to visit each table and give thanks. TIP: Make sure to come on an empty stomach – the dinner feast is known to have six to 10 courses!
Located in the heart of Istanbul, Shangri-La Bosphorus is the perfect venue for a wedding celebration as it blends its authentic hospitality with the spectacular view of the Bosphorus.
Henna night is a centuries-old tradition characterized by beautiful music, dance performances, and reformulated rituals, offers an opportunity for both families to meet and mingle with each other before the wedding.
Recreating another centuries-old tradition, the bridal bath is a special ceremony where elegance is intertwined with entertainment and fun with your friends and loved ones. It features a Turkish Bath complimented by traditional treats, refreshing sorbets, and more.
Located on over 16 acres of lush, tropical gardens complete with cascading waterfalls and pools that gracefully descend onto the hotel’s expansive beach and protected bay, Conrad Bali is a stunning destination for wedding dreams. Before the wedding, guests can participate in a Full Moon Full Cultural Experience where guests can start with a relaxing Meditation at the mother temple and receive a blessing from its “Mangku” (local head priest), and enjoy dinner on its lagoon pools and capture the special moment with the moon reflection above the ocean. Special Balinese ties through venues, and decor, include water gardens with Balinese style pavilion afloat a lotus pond and Bale’ (pronounced ‘bah-lay’),a traditional Balinese open-sided gazebo with a thatched roof made from ‘alang alang’, also known as cogon grass.
Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle writer, publicist and content strategist. Her work has appeared in Boston magazine, Boston Common, Bride & Groom Magazine, Destination I Do, Modern Luxury Weddings Boston and Chicago, Ocean Home and playboy.com among others. A former senior editor at New England Bride Magazine, Stacey is also a publicist for non-profit organizations and small businesses. She is the author of a children’s book, A Bed for Every Bear: Tuck’s Tale. Stacey enjoys writing about travel, trends, and romance.