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Weddings, the most celebrated event of all religions and cultures of the world are special for everyone. Every person wants it to be the most memorable day of their life. For that, there is a lot of arrangement and management required. Planning starts as the dates are fixed, with venues being booked and shopping being done. The work list is long. With every wedding season that passes by, new trends are coming up. This makes it even more hectic to plan a wedding.As we try to keep up with the changing trends, modernizing our ways, there comes culture ad cultural differences in weddings.
It is important to not forget your cultural identities when you adopt new trends. Then there are cultural differences in the country like India and weddings all around the world. There is so much to learn, imbibe and share when you get to know your culture. There are thousands of traditions with deeper meanings than what you understand. So many of them have been built for the convenience of people of those times, others have changed too. It is good to know what your culture has to offer, especially when you are getting married.
There are many ceremonies in an Indian Wedding. Different religions and cultural groups have somewhat different but overall the same traditions. From the painting of Henna designs on the hands of the bride and groom and all ladies of both houses, known as the Mehendi to other pre-wedding ceremonies, there are a number of them. There is a Sangeet ceremony, followed by Tilak, which includes gifting items to the bride and groom. It consists of a Pandit who selects the date of the wedding according to the horoscopes of the would-be partners. On the big day, a mandapa is set and the groom is welcomed by the bride’s family who comes with music and dance. Flower petals are thrown for good luck and the partners exchange garlands on the stage.
The Pandit chants sermons, while there are wedding vows with seven Mangal Pheras with the bride’s sari tied to the groom’s scarf. It symbolizes the union of two souls. The parents of the bride hold a fast for a successful marriage and sisters of the bride steal the groom’s wedding shoes to get money from him. Once the bride is welcomed at the groom’s house by spilling a vessel of rice with her right foot, few other ceremonies are performed. Once such includes Aeki Beki, the game of finding rings that are put in a bowl of milk.
In an American wedding, the celebrations start a night before. The groom’s family comes to the bride’s house for dinner and celebrations with boxes of sweets and other gifts. In the main ceremony, the bride’s brother places money in her shoes before she wears them. It is for her luck. In a few families, the single friends of the bride write their names on the sole. Before she places the veil on her head she circles it on the heads of all the singles. It is for their good luck to find a suitable partner soon. Then the veil is placed on the bride’s head by a married woman.
The traditional American bride wears a red silk gown with a cardboard headpiece like wings with feathers. The married god parents get her an expensive gift and take her to the altar. Here they should accept the responsibility of the couple. After the ceremony, all the bridesmaids and groomsmen stand in a line holding flowers. They form an arch from which the couple enters the reception. Pair of doves are considered lucky as a symbol of happiness and love. So a pair is released and guests throw coins for luck. The food is mostly traditional.
In Chinese weddings, the date is decided by the astrological signs and birth dates of the couple. The ceremony begins at half an hour for good fortune. A night before the bride has to take a bath with citrus water to ward off evil. Mostly the Chinese bride wears three outfits in the whole ceremony. There is a traditional white attire. Then traditional Chinese dress for the tea ceremony. In the tea ceremony, the bride serves tea to both parents as a mark of respect. The red color of the outfit symbolizes the celebration. She then wears a cocktail dress to send the guests off. There is also a headpiece with kingfisher feathers, pearls along with a red veil.
The Groom mostly wears a blue dragon robe with a black silk coat and a headpiece in black color. At the wedding, the groom has to perform stunts to prove his worth. After the ceremony, the bride is welcomed with firecrackers. She also has to jump over an iron basil lit with charcoal to ward off evil and bring prosperity. In the reception they both go around to toast with each table and a wedding cake is cut too. It is mostly baked like a ladder to symbolize their success with many layers. The wedding is celebrated with several dishes. Each signifies something, representing dragon and phoenix.
When the French ceremony starts, the groom walks down the aisle before walking to the altar. The bride takes with her a bundle of clothing which is stored in a handcrafted chest by her father. On the big day, the bride takes a long bath before getting ready. It is believed to wash off all her past thoughts or affairs. Then the groom picks her up for the chapel where children restrict their way with a ribbon which the bride has to cut to go inside.
She walks with a silk fabric held on her head, wears a wreath of flowers while the priest gives his blessings. There is a layered cake or a traditional cream-filled pastry puffs cake with caramel, like a pyramid. If they kiss over it without fail, it signifies prosperity. They both toast each other in an engraved cup with two handles. There is also a ceremony which includes beheading the champagne. After the wedding, the friends of the couple interrupt their wedding night as a prank. They go away after a treat by the couple.
There is an interesting tradition at a German wedding. It involves breaking pots or anything and then cleaning it together by the couple. It symbolizes luck and prepares them for the struggles of married life. Their friends and family create wedding newspapers with pictures and articles of the couple to sell them at reception and get money. They help them with their honeymoon expense. Traditionally, there is an official inviter dressed in flowers and ribbons. He goes door to door to invite guests who pin a ribbon in his hat and offer him drinks.
German brides wear tiaras and dresses with no trains. After the ceremony ends, the newlyweds are supposed to saw a log together. It signifies overcoming life challenges as a couple. Guests then throw rice and whatever stays in the bride’s hair is believed to be blessed with the same number of children. The couple then walks to the car on a path laid with fir bough for hope, luck, and fertility. The car is decorated too, going around the city, honking. Other cars honk in return to congratulate the couple.
In South Germany the couple toast at the reception in a crystal cup with wine or champagne in both ends. The bride is then kidnapped by the groomsmen who take her to the pub. The groom is supposed to find her and then invite everyone to the pub for drinks. At midnight, the bride is blindfolded and then she has to catch a bridesmaid dancing around her. The one picked is believed to get married next. A married woman then ties the bridal bonnet on the chosen bridesmaid. She has to then dance with a few male relatives of the groom around candles. If the candles remain lit at the end, it means all will be smooth. It is just a fun activity to keep up the vibe of the wedding along with other pranks played by family and friends.
Like other weddings, the Japanese wedding consists of many rituals too. One is known as san-san-Kudo which means three by three exchanges. The bride and groom and both sides of the parents take three sips from three cups. The first three are for the members, next are for human flaws, hatred, passion, and ignorance. Nine is considered a lucky number in Japanese culture. The parents are honored with flowers, a toast and a letter of love and gratitude. 1,001 gold origami cranes are folded for luck and peace.
The bride changes into two outfits. One is the Shiro, the white kimono for the ceremony. The other is uchikake kimono for the reception. She ties her hair in a bun with colorful accessories and a white wedding hook. This hook is to hide the front golden tsuno horns. The bride carries a tiny purse, a small sword as well as a hand fan. These signify the happiness of the future. There are many dishes served but never in a multiple of four. That is not considered lucky. All the dishes have some meaning. Like lobsters are red which a lucky color is.
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