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European Traditions to Add to a Classic Wedding

Updated: Jul 31, 2022

There are so many neat ways to incorporate small details into a wedding using traditions from European cultures! Some are for good luck or to ward off spirits while others are to truly celebrate the union of two families in the most extravagant ways. No matter what it may signify, they can add a personal touch and a lot of fun to their special day!


In France, it is very common for the wedding cake to be a ‘croquembouche’. This is a tower of cream puffs, bound together by caramel, traditionally decorated with sugared almonds. In Medieval times, guests would each bring small cakes and pile them as high as they could into a tower and the couple would kiss over it. If they could do this without knocking the tower over, it meant they would have a life of prosperity.

A common wedding favor to give to each guests are ‘almond dragée bags' (chocolate covered almonds), generally with five almonds in each bag. The five almonds symbolize health, wealth, happiness, longevity, and fertility.


Before the wedding day, some brides in England will have a ‘hen party’ or a ‘hen do’. The bride’s closest friends get together for a weekend to show their love and celebrate the bride-to-be! Some women go to the spa, get a house in the country, or have a private dinner then go out on the town, while others will play more traditional games, like ‘Mister and Missus’, where the friends will ask the fiancé about his soon-to-be wife’s likes and dislikes, then compare his answers to hers.

A 'swoon' worthy two piece for a relaxing weekend with your girls (Shop here)

Another handed-down tradition in England is a ‘wedding breakfast’, which is the feast given to the newly married couple following the wedding. This dates back to the 17th century when the wedding was part of Catholic Mass, and the bride and groom would have fasted before the service.


A common tradition we see at a lot of weddings is throwing rice or bird seed as the bride and groom as they walk back down the aisle. This tradition actually originated from Italy, dating back to the Ancient Romans. It was thought that throwing a handful of rice would wish the couple good luck and bless them with fertility. In Roman times, they would use wheat or oat seed to represent the birth of new life. It was changed to rice in the Middles Ages because it was cheaper.


In Greece, it is common for the bride to wear a crown, sometimes made of flowers or ribbon. This symbolizes the unity of the couple together. The crown is blessed by three priest, and is traditionally made of delicate white flowers and evergreen to symbolize fertility, oranges blossoms and roses to represent purity. Some brides also include olive branches and other herbs to pay homage to the goddess Adephagia. More modern crowns made of ribbon, metal, and flowers. {I personally prefer the traditional flower crowns, especially with all the beautiful symbolism}


A fun alternative to the bouquet toss, is the bridal veil dance in Germany! All the single ladies will hold the veil (or a similar fabric to the veil) above the newly weds, a specific song will play and all guests holding the veil tear a piece. Whoever has the biggest piece is the next to get married.


An absolutely heartwarming custom in Sweden is how they walkdown the aisle. Unlike here in United States where the father walks the bride down the aisle, the Swedish custom is for the bride and the groom to walk down the aisle together to signify their journey in life together.

At the reception, to celebrate two families becoming one, it is customary to give a toast to the newly weds. Everyone raises their glass and joins in (or shouts) "Skål!" meaning 'Cheers!'. The toast is generally done after dinner and traditionally uses champagne or sparkling wine, but the Swedes have also been known to use vodka!

Cheers! (Shop here)


Ireland well known for being superstitious, including on their special day! One old superstition says a bride should walk down the aisle with a sixpence coin in her right shoe as a symbol of good luck.

Another lovely Irish ritual is the wearing of Claddagh rings (a tradition I personally used in my own wedding). These unique rings date back to the 1700s in Galway and feature two hands around a heart with a crown over the heart. Not only is this a one-of-a-kind design, it has such beautiful symbolism with the hands as a sign of friendship, the heart signifying love, and the crown denoting loyalty. It truly embodies what a marriage should be.


The first dance in a Scottish wedding is a fun and special way to unify two families. The Grand March begins with the bride and groom marching to the bagpipes or a live band. The maid of honor and the best man join in, followed by the couple's parents and family, followed by the rest of guests!

Another way to incorporate a Scottish tradition is add a Quaich Cup as a part of the ceremony! The Quaich, sometimes referred to as a "Loving Cup" or a "Friendship Cup", which symbolizes the love and trust between the couple. It is filled with a drink of choice- generally Scotch whiskey - but any drink is fine. The bride and groom each hold a handle and help each other take a sip

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There are so many ways to add a classic European tradition to a wedding. These small details will enhance the experience for the bridal party and the guests, as well as add a unique flare for an unforgettable day!

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