Wedding Traditions From Around the World

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Get into the wedding season with Hallmark Channel and learn more about wedding traditions from around the world!

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been to a wedding or two in your life, and each one is special and significant in its own ways. But there are so many types of weddings with traditions you might not know about, a handful of which we’re celebrating this June on Hallmark Channel!

Click through to learn more, from The Ketubah wedding contract in Jewish weddings, to The Stefana wedding crowns in Greek marriages, and the Roka Ceremony in some Indian wedding celebrations…there’s lot to learn and celebrate about love and tradition!

Hallmark Channel is celebrating June Weddings with all new romances, all month long, that remind us just how special love is. Don’t forget to tune in Saturdays at 8/7c, only on Hallmark Channel!

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The Stefana

In Love’s Greek to Me, archaeologist Ilana travels to Santorini with her Greek boyfriend, Mike, for his sister Alex’s wedding. When Mike surprises Ilana by proposing on their vacation, she gets caught in the whirlwind of his overzealous mother, Athena.

As Ilana helps plan Alex’s wedding, she takes over bachelorette duties as Alex’s American Maid of Honor, and learns about Greek wedding traditions like the Stefana. The Stefana are two wedding crowns connected by a ribbon to symbolize a union of two lives becoming one in eternity.

The crowns are also meant to symbolize the happy couple being “crowned” in their hometown which they are promising, in Greek tradition, to run with love and faith. The crowns are typically swapped back and forth three times by the koumbaro or koumbara—the best man or maid of honor—as they walk around the altar to mark the beginning of their marital journey.

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The Roka Ceremony

In Make Me a Match, dating app founder Vivi enlists the help of an Indian Matchmaker, Raina, to change her fate in love, after learning her boyfriend is cheating on her. However, Vivi finds that Raina's son Boom just might be the change she needed all along.

While Vivi approaches dating from her app’s perspective of data points and algorithms to cultivate a relationship, Boom tells Vivi all about the traditions that take place at his sister Priya’s engagement. Vivi gets to experience all of the magic in real time, with no data or technology involved.

During a traditional Hindu engagement, there is an opening prayer called the aarti, bestowed onto the couple by the bride’s mother. The Roka ceremony also takes place at an engagement and is tradition in some parts of India. The word is associated with the English word for “stop” or “prevent”, because the bride and groom no longer need to keep looking for someone, as they have now found each other. Family members bestow gifts like sweets, money, and precious clothing for them to share in their new life together, as the marriage is about the two families coming together, not just the couple.

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Sagai and Saptapadi

In Make Me a Match, we also see the engagement ceremony called Sagai between Boom’s sister and her fiance. The sagai is the official asking of the bride's hand in marriage and a bestowing of the ring on her finger, and it often signifies the beginning of wedding preparations and celebrations.

Later on at the wedding, we see the Saptapadi, which translates from Sanskrit to “seven steps”. Sitting in front of a sacred fire, tying garments together for the gathbandhan, the couple performs the seven steps on marriage known as the saat phere. This represents the seven principles and promises the couple make to each other, and each step is referred to as a ‘phere’. The mother of the groom also gifts bangles to the bride, and the couple exchange garlands called jaimala, or fresh flower garlands.

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The Ketubah

In The Wedding Contract, teacher Rebecca and her fiancé Adam, an ad executive, live in Chicago and are excited to plan their Jewish wedding. But when Adam lands a big new ad campaign at work, and Rebecca and Adam’s mothers meet, their wedding and future are put into jeopardy.

In traditional Jewish weddings, the Ketubah—or wedding contract—is a crucial part of the ceremony. The word Ketubah itself is Hebrew for ‘to write’, and it refers to a marriage contract. The Ketubah is a legal document that typically includes specific language outlining the groom’s obligations to the bride that is signed by witnesses, and it also stipulates what should happen in the case of a divorce or untimely death. The document itself often has intricately designed artwork and symbolism on it, usually reflective of the artistic traditions of the country or area the family is from.

More modern versions of the Ketubah have expanded to be more gender-inclusive and address other concerns, but at the core of most Ketubahs is a focus on what the couple will give to one another, much like a set of vows promising faith, love, and dedication.

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Veiling and Circling

Speaking of the Ketubah, veiling and circling in traditional Jewish ceremonies happens during or just after the signing of the marriage contract. Both veiling and circling hold great meaning in Jewish weddings, and their core focus is to communicate devotion and dedication to their partner.

The groom traditionally approaches the bride for the veiling, known as the bedeken; he veils her face, signifying that her inner beauty is at the core of his love for her. The bride then circles around her groom either three or seven times under the chuppah, or wedding canopy, as Rebecca does to Adam in The Wedding Contract.

It’s believed that this circling creates a wall of protection from evil for the happy couple, and other understandings of it are rooted in the bride creating a symbolic new family circle that she vows to protect.

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Breaking of the Glass

Towards the end of the Jewish wedding ceremony is usually when the breaking of the glass takes place. The groom—or sometimes the bride and groom—is invited to step on a glass that is inside of a cloth bag to shatter it, as Adam does in The Wedding Contract.

The glass breaking has multiple meanings, from a representation of marriage holding both sorrow and joy and the couple’s commitment to one another amongst this, and the more historical representation of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The cloth holding the glass shards is often collected after the ceremony, and many couples choose to incorporate the broken glass pieces into a special memento to honor the day.

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The First Dance

In Wedding Season, hard-working journalist Trish is on back-to-back bridesmaid duty for her three best friends. Finding herself without a date, she pairs up with photographer Ryan, her best friend’s brother, whom she’s known for years.

Trish faces a lot of logistics at her friends’ weddings, but one of the biggest she has to undertake is making sure one of the couple’s first dances at the reception goes off without a hitch with their desired music record. First wedding dances symbolize a myriad of things, but the traditional understanding of the first dance between the happy couple is to celebrate the union with a song, typically picked by the couple, that symbolizes their love, in front of all of those who care for and love them.

Other couples are oftentimes invited to come out and join the couple on the dance floor as the song progresses, so that by the end, a myriad of happy couples are all dancing and celebrating together!

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Throwing of the Bouquet

The throwing or tossing of the bouquet is also a classic part of traditional American and English weddings. Brides typically toss their wedding flower bouquet over their shoulders at the reception into a group of single women, but more modern ceremonies invite anyone who's single to take part.

The bouquet-tossing tradition dates back to England in the 1800s, as single, hopeful brides-to-be found it good luck to rush the bride and have some of her good fortune rub off on them. Some would even take it as far as trying to rip off parts of the bride’s gown for good luck, as marriage was seen as upward movement in society for women and something highly sought-after. A less physical manifestation of this passing on of good fortune was established with the bouquet toss, which can now be seen at most traditional American weddings.

Whoever catches the bouquet is supposedly “next” to get married and walk down the aisle, and in Wedding Season, the recipient of the bride’s bouquet toss is quite the surprise!

So this summer, take time to celebrate all the joy, tradition, and swoon-worthy moments that weddings bring. And don’t miss all-new romantic June Weddings movie premieres on Hallmark Channel, all month long, Saturdays at 8/7c!