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If you'd like to add a slice of your heritage to your wedding ceremony, you're not alone. Millions of couples are embracing their ancestry and choosing to incorporate some of the best traditions from around the world in their ceremonies here at home. Here are some of the most interesting wedding traditions you might find if you attended a wedding in Germany, Russia or Ireland. If you or your family are from one of these countries, why not try adding some phrases from your ancestor's native tongue in your wedding vows for a truly memorable touch!
To fund her future wedding, when a baby girl is born in Germany, several trees are planted and tended throughout her childhood. When she is to be married, the trees are sold to pay for her wedding and to act as a dowry. To help defray costs of a honeymoon, friends and family of the wedding couple will make a newspaper or newsletter featuring pictures and articles about the couple's youth. This newsletter is sold at the wedding.
A German wedding can last up to three days. There is first a civil ceremony, then the following day is a traditional ceremony. Finally on the third day is a religious ceremony. Guests bring old dishes to the second night's party to break, and the couple sweeps them up. This symbolizes that their home will never be broken.
As the wedding couple leaves the church, they throw coins to the children who have attended. A customary tradition is for the best man to steal the bride and take her to a local pub, where they drink champagne and hide.
The groom must find them, and pay for all they drank. Also, before leaving the reception hall, guests block the door and demand payment from the groom (usually in the form of a promise of a party) before they allow the wedding couple to leave for their honeymoon.
What are referred to in western society as wedding rings are in Russia called engagement rings. These plain gold bands are worn on the ring finger of the right hand. When a person is widowed or divorced, they will move the ring to the left hand. The groom pays for the ring, although the couple chooses them together.
A holdover from the days of communism is a procession of cars that arrives at the ceremony. Since large cars were a sign of wealth, effort is made to rent one for the bride and groom. In addition, guests to the wedding will each drive to the wedding alone to increase the size of the procession. The groom traditionally takes the bride to the church, but before he is allowed to do so, he must pass a series of challenges put up by her family and friends, including trivia questions, physical obstacles, and even an actual climb up to the bride's window.
Marriage ceremonies are held in the licensing office, and must be witnessed. Although church weddings are held, they have no legal significance, so they are often held after the legal ceremony. At the reception, it is customary to drink to excess, with a series of toasts offered to the bride and groom. Prior to leaving the reception hall, the bride is stolen away by the friends of the groom. He must then locate her and pay her ransom. This can happen several times, so the groom must be ever watchful of his new wife.
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