Weddings of the World: Fiji

Weddings of the World: Fiji

Getting married on the Fijian islands is a girl’s dream – clear blue water, white sand, and beautiful traditions can make for an unforgettable wedding.

Though modern Fijians rarely participate in arranged marriages, brides were traditionally chosen by the groom’s parents based on her tribal background. For them, the partnership was more than two people getting married, it was two families being bonded economically and socially, forever. The traditional Fijian wedding ceremony is called tevutevu. “Tevu” means to spread, and describes how Fijian families shower the new couple and in-laws with a spread of gifts like mats, cloth, pigs, whale’s teeth, and root crops.

The bride is dressed and prepared in traditional costume by her new in-laws to enter her husband’s family home for the first time on the wedding day. Her kuta, or handwoven decorated mat garment, is kept by the women dressing her to be shared with the extended family for years to come. Guests might wear masi garments, which are made of cloth from the bark of a mulberry tree hand-decorated with Fijian designs.

Like so many wedding traditions across the world, the bride makes a dramatic entrance. She can float in on a Fijian bili bili, which is a beautifully decorated raft paddled by men dressed in warrior attire. Once she’s entered her new husband’s home for the first time, the bride is given away in the Fijian nai soli tradition. This is where it gets emotional! Similarly to when a western father gives away his daughter, the Fijian bride’s uncles present a whale tooth, or tabua, and give their blessings to give her over to her new family. The groom’s uncles thank the bride’s parents and extended family for raising her and welcome her.

Afterward, the two families feast together as one. They will most certainly drink Fiji’s national drink, kava. It’s a spicy, mouth-numbing drink made from the dried roots of a pepper tree that is present at all important social gatherings. It’s painstakingly prepared by hand, and guests are expected to drink it all in one sip without spilling any. Food might be cooked by lovo, where it’s wrapped in banana leaves and heated over and pit of burning coconut husks. At their feast, it’s common to have meke entertainment. Meke is the custom where people sing and dance with traditional instruments like gongs or bamboo pipes. They tell stories of love, warriors, and tradition as a tribute to their beautiful islands. Meke is also a beautiful way to add a touch of early Fijian tradition to your otherwise modern wedding.

Photo Credit: Chloe Jackman Photography –

Stay tuned once a month for our Weddings of the World blog. Where we will take a deeper look into the cultures and wedding traditions of countries around the world!




Weddings of the World: Brazil

Weddings of the World: Brazil

A Brazilian wedding can be described as a big party where no one is ever sitting! They’re always full of color and life that is tailored to each couple’s style. Traditional Brazilian weddings can take place over an entire weekend versus just one day.  The bride has 3 pre-wedding events that center around her: the Cha de Cozinah (kitchen shower), Cha de Lingerie (trousseau party), and the Spa Day. 

The Kitchen Shower traditionally was just for the bride and her female friends and family members. It’s typically held about a month before the wedding, and each guest brings a gift specifically for the Bride’s kitchen. Recently, men have been invited to the Kitchen Shower.

The Trousseau Shower is a more intimate gathering that takes place about a week before the wedding. This shower is pretty similar to an American bridal shower. The bride’s female family and friends gift her with lingerie and other fun items for her wedding night and marriage.  

The Spa Day is the last event that takes place the day before the wedding, with the bridal party and family ensuring that the bride feels zero stress leading up to her wedding.  

Another pre-ceremony tradition involves the bride writing all the names of her single friends on the inside of her white dress for good luck so they will be next to get married. 

The majority of Brazilian weddings are performed under Catholic tradition in a church. The bride is always set to arrive at the ceremony customarily 10 minutes late, sometimes longer. As it is considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. The bride and groom will recite vows to each other after a prayer is read, and then the clergyman will bless the rings and hand them to the couple to exchange. The rings are usually engraved with the name of the groom on the bride’s ring and vise versa for the groom. Following the kiss, the bride and groom sign the register of the church, then their madrinhas (godmother) and padrinhos (godfather) sign as witnesses. 

A reception will follow and is full of bright colors, food, and vibrant music. A lot of Brazilian couples choose to have live attractions such as samba dancers or other entertainment.  There are a few traditions that place during the reception, such as the couple having a “dawn snack” which is a very late meal about an hour before the wedding ends in addition to their main meal.  The cutting of the groom’s tie, where the pieces are auctioned off to the wedding guest and the money is given to the couple to put towards their future. The lifting of the bride’s dress, lifting of the newlyweds in chairs, gifts are given to the couple’s parents, and the giving of a “bem casado” sweet to the guest on their way out of the reception.

Brazilian couple gets a loving exit from their ceremony

Stay tuned once a month for our Weddings of the World blog where we take a deeper look at cultural weddings across the globe! – CR

Weddings of the World: India

Weddings of the World: India



Indian wedding celebrations are among the world’s most opulent. Filled with guests wearing vibrant colors and jewelry to the ceremonies and rituals that can go on for about three days. On the first day, the new couple performs the Ganesh puja ceremony, where they honor Lord Ganesh, an important Hindu deity. It’s the start to the wedding festivities because worshipping Lord Ganesh ensures a smooth wedding, and a prosperous future as a couple. To prepare for the ceremony the family decorates an alter with Lord Ganesh’s idol, favorite snacks and flowers, incense, and symbolic items. Only the couple, the bridal party, and close family member witness the Ganesh puja blessing.


On the second day of an Indian wedding celebration, the women of the family perform the mehndi ceremony. Popularly known as henna, mehndi is a paste used to create beautiful, traditional designs on women’s arms, hands, and feet. The ceremony is a way for her female friends and family to wish her good health and prosperity in her marriage – mehndi is also a natural herbal ingredient and has a cooling sensation meant to soothe the bride’s nerves.


A few nights before the wedding, Indian couples hold a sangeet. It’s essentially a party for both sides of the family to get to know each other; guests perform traditional songs and choreographed dance in celebration of the wedding.

The final day is the main ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. Though the third day’s itinerary might sound familiar, an Indian ceremony is a bit different than a Western one. To begin, the groom is the one with the big entrance. In the baraat, the grooms enters the ceremony on a decorated white horse. Grooms often use decorated luxury cars or even elephants in place of the white horse. His procession is a party – if there aren’t traditional drums being played, a DJ is playing music while guests celebrate the groom going to meet his bride. The ending of the ceremony comes after the grooms streaks a red powder on his wife’s forehead and ties a black necklace on her. Both symbolize her new status as a married woman. If you didn’t know already, Indian weddings are a huge party and the reception is no exception. There’s lots of folk dancing and a huge variety of food. If you’re a guest at an Indian wedding, be sure to check your invitation for information about which of these days you’ve been invited to. Oftentimes, several of the days are family only.















Stay tuned once a month for our Weddings of the World blog. Where we will take a deeper look into the cultures and wedding traditions of countries around the world!


Weddings of the World: China

Weddings of the World: China

Red Symbolizes Happiness

That magical feeling weddings give us is always the same, but the traditions people around the world follow to celebrate their love are very different! Welcome back to Weddings of the World, where we take a look at how different (or surprisingly the same!) weddings in far-away places are. Today, we’ll be learning about Chinese wedding traditions. Chinese culture is often known for strong family structure and respect for tradition – how do you think that shows in their wedding practices?

Beginning with the proposal and engagement, there is a lot of gift giving. If you’re a giver then this would be easy for you! Whether it’s food, wine, clothing, or jewelry, a new groom will use gifts to show appreciation and love for his new family  Isn’t that amazingly beautiful?

Tea is an integral part of Chinese culture; nearly every restaurant serves it, and drinking it together is a popular social activity. In the wedding tradition, the Tea Ceremony is one of the most important events. Both the Bride and Groom are expected to serve their new family tea from a traditional tea pot while following specific etiquette. Drinking the tea together is symbolic of the two families becoming one! Ultimately, the Chinese wedding tea ceremony is a significant way to show respect and gratitude for a lifetime of care and love to the couple’s parents – after the ceremony, the man will love and care for his new wife. In addition to this beautiful ritual, we can’t forget about the iconic red envelopes! Chinese culture considers the color red lucky and symbolic for success, honor, fertility, and warding off of evil spirits. After the tea ceremony is over, the couple is presented with monetary gifts inside of small red envelopes decorated with gold characters and designs. Bonus: save the dates and invitations are usually in an envelope that looks similar to these, just larger and more ornate! Though red and gold are popular colors for traditional Chinese weddings, some couples choose to incorporate more white and other colors.

Image result for china tea ceremony wedding


Here’s the good part… the wedding day! Customarily, the Bride wears a Chinse qipao dress. It’s becoming more and more popular to wear this type of dress and a white Western-style dress, too! Just like American brides switch dresses, it’s normal for a Chinese Bride to switch her outfit at least three times over the course of the reception. Unlike American weddings, though, a Chinese couple’s vows are said in private. The wedding isn’t a legal ceremony, but a celebration of a new marriage with friends and family. The food that follows the short ceremony is extravagant! There are normally between five and ten courses, with a lot of fish because it’s representative of abundance. Even when a Chinese couple opts for a mostly Western-style wedding, the banquet remains traditional out of respect for their families. Fun fact – guests sign a guest book along with their gifts. Attendants record the monetary value of the gift for the newlyweds to see; this way, they can give that person a gift of the same or more value. The day after the wedding, the Bride formally visits her new family, where she receives more gifts and blessings. After another few days, she will visit her own parents’ home as a guest, as she is no longer a part of her family. Chinese wedding traditions are different from American ones, but anyone can tell Chinese couples have deep respect for their families and culture!

Image result for chinese qipao wedding dress      Image result for chinese qipao wedding dress    Image result for traditional chinese wedding banquet

Stay tuned once a month for our Weddings of the World blog. Where we will take a deeper look into the cultures and wedding traditions of countries around the world!

~ZG & AW~

Weddings of the World: Somalia

Weddings of the World: Somalia



Just like most other cultures, one’s wedding is a significant moment in Somali culture. From the religious rituals, to make-up and hair, every detail is crucial leading up to that experience. But before we even get to that point let’s rewind to what should happen before the wedding, getting engaged.

Traditionally, the man should ask the father of his future bride or the head of the household, for their future bride’s hand in marriage. When the “soo doonis” occurs, it is cultural and not tied to religious obligations. It is an official proposal with witnesses and an agreement with both sides of the family. Men from the groom’s side come to the bride’s home. The most senior elder from the groom’s side asks for the bride on behalf of the groom and his family. Then if they agree, the man must pay a dowry or bride price. In the past, this was accepted in the form of camel, land, and gold. However, today cash is accepted as well. The senior elder on the bride’s side agrees to the arrangement and they agree to meet again on the wedding day.

Then once the engagement “mehr” is confirmed, a traditional Muslim ceremony called a “nikah” will occur. This ceremony is typically held in the home a few days before the wedding reception or the afternoon of the wedding reception. During the Nikah, the groom’s side asks again for the bride. The bride’s side agrees and gives her away symbolically. The real giving away is done between the Imam and the Maxram. It’s attended only by family members and close friends. This ritual is vital because this is when the couple’s union is officiated by an Imam, a mosque official. The Imam will then conclude the marriage and it will become official in Islam. Once the union is official, it’s followed by the women singing traditional songs, dancing, and food.

After the nikah, a wedding reception called an “aroos” in Somali soon follows. This reception is always held in the evening. Somali wedding attire varies on the family and personal preferences. Traditionally, Somali wedding attire includes a “guntino” or “dirac” for women and a suit for men. Nowadays, the bride will typically wear at least two dresses: a dirac or guntino, and a white dress. While the men wear a suit. Additional must haves for the bride are gold jewelry and henna designs.

During the wedding, when most of the guests have arrived, the bride will make her extravagant entrance into the reception. She walks in slowly accompanied by her bridal party. Then the groom follows a few hours later with either his own groom’s men in tow or in between the bride’s outfit change and will then walk in with her. From there the night is filled with dancing and singing just like any other wedding.

Seven days after the wedding reception, an all-women’s party is held for the bride. The bride wears a dirac or guntino. Guests circle the bride singing and each lay a scarf on her head. This is a sign of respect due her new union and represents her becoming a married woman. The scarf is made of silky material and usually has many patterns and colors. Over the course of the party, guests provide treats in decorated containers and gifts for the married couple

Stay tuned once a month for our Weddings of the World blog. Where we will take a deeper look into the cultures and wedding traditions of countries around the world!

Photo credits: Instagram @BIILLBOARD

Naija Weddings

Naija Weddings

Author: Blogger, Etinosa Ogbevoen 



To be Nigerian is to imagine having an over the top and beautiful wedding that is filled with tradition and glamour. Depending on where you are celebrating your wedding. Either in the United States or in the home country of Nigeria things can look a bit different but still have the same essence and majesty. It’s important to note that in Nigeria there are over 300 tribes and each of them have their own specific traditions that is unique to their tribe.

When it comes to being Nigerian respect and formalities go a long way. When two people meet and fall in love, it is up to the man to travel to his future wife’s parent’s house to ask for her hand in marriage. This meeting is crucial to the in order to get a blessing for their union. Many parents will ask questions about the background of the suitor and how he plans on taking care of their daughter. Once the two are engaged, tradition kicks in.

An introduction is set up at the home of the bride. The man brings his representatives of his immediate and extended family which usually consists of elders, such as aunts, uncles, grandparent and older siblings and cousins. The introduction is an event when both the families are able to meet and talk about the future nuptials. In the Nigerian culture people believe that you are not only marrying a person but that person’s family. The two families are able to get acquainted with each other in an informal setting but many times each family shows up looking their best to make a good first impression. Prayers are said over the union by the bride’s father and the kola nut broken and passed around for people to eat. The kola Nut is regarded as a sacred nut used to during traditional occasions.

Once the introduction is over then the real fun starts. Nigeria is known for their love of fashion. In order to help families pay for weddings each family will choose a material for a variety of people. The families of the bride and groom will choose a color to differentiate the two families. It usually goes with the colors that the bride and groom have chosen. There is also the asoebi which is a separate material that is sold to extended family and friends that is worn so that they can show solidarity towards the couple and their wedding. (If you know a lot of people getting married then you might be buying a lot of asoebi)

Many Nigerians have adopted the western world’s traditional wedding and incorporate that into their special day. Many Nigerians refer to that wedding as the “White” wedding because the bride is wearing a white dress. It is very similar and identical to the weddings that occur in the United States. This means that Nigerian wedding consist of two ceremonies, the “White” Wedding and the traditional wedding. Most people celebrate on two separate days.

During the traditional wedding, there can be some differences as far as the flow of weddings depending on the tribe. I will speak on the Benin tribe since that is where my family from. The families enter the room separately with lots of music and dancing and then are seated on opposite sides. Before the bride comes in there are 3 decoys for the groom to choose from. It is a test to know if he truly knows his bride. There are many tribes that have a bride price for the bride.  For us we do not participate in a Bride price or dowry. A bride price or dowry is an amount of money that the groom pays the bride’s father in exchange for her hand in marriage. Many people see it as problematic because in the olden days women were seen as property that could be bought and sold. Another form of the dowry that some tribes ascribe to is bringing suitcases of material. Like mentioned before fashion is important to the Nigerian culture. For the Benin tribe the groom’s family offers drinks as a token of appreciation for the bride’s family giving them the blessing of her hand in marriage.  During the ceremony the two families sit on two separate sides and a moderator for each family conducts the ceremony by introducing each member of the families, reciting traditional sayings and blessing the union. Once they are done the bride will leave her family and join her husband and her new family. The party begins and it is a night of love laughter and celebration.


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