Fun fact: In Albania, the groom is fed to a giant spider the day of his wedding. If his bleached bones are subsequently spat out by high noon, the ceremony may begin in good faith, for the dead groom’s love is true and everlasting.
Actually, that’s not even remotely true, but it’s hardly more outlandish than some of the truly bizarre wedding traditions practiced throughout the world.
From covering the bride in sewage to forcing newlyweds to eat tissue paper, here are seven of the most peculiar wedding rituals in the world. (Trigger warning: Intensely graphic purple prose about cutting open baby chicks follows.)
In Mexico, couples tie the knot with “The Lasso”
A wedding lasso rosary called el lazo has long been a tradition in Spanish, Filipino, and Mexican cultures. Right after vows are exchanged, eager wedding witnesses tie the unwieldy rope around the bride and groom’s shoulders, tying it into the number 8 (the infinity symbol). Some ceremonies get even witchier, as family members weave various glinting crystals and orange flowers into the rope.
In China, the bride and groom cut open a chick to decide their wedding day
For generations, engaged couples have been trying to suss out the best day to hold their nuptials. One Chinese tradition has this down to a grisly science: The bride and groom gleefully cut into a baby chick and inspect its liver. If the liver looks healthy, they can safely choose a date. If the liver looks unhealthy, they have to try again tomorrow. Oh, one quick question: How healthy does any liver look once it’s been wrenched out of a fatally stabbed carcass?
In Scotland, they “blacken the bride” and it’s super-obnoxious
Pre-wedding jitters, anyone? In this bizarro ritual, so-called friends of the bride (and occasionally the groom) descend upon the newlywed on a chosen day before the wedding. They then proceed to douse her in a scummy soup of rotting fish, flour, old feathers, and noisome tripe. The besotted and, we imagine, shrieking subject is then merrily paraded through town, much to the sadistic delight of onlookers. Interestingly, statistics suggest people in Scotland still get married to this day.
In France, the “le Pot de Chamber” is exactly what you fear it is
Wedding tradition, or alarmingly unsanitary hazing ritual? This sick-making custom involves filling an actual chamber pot with all manner of sewage: stale beer, moist crumbles of cake, sausages, and chocolate (this last to symbolize the stuff that normally goes in a chamber pot), and even fetid mounds of wet toilet paper. And then? The bride and groom are forced to drink from the chamber pot, choking down as much of the unholy swill as they can.
In Russia, grooms “buy out the bride” (“vykup nevesty”)
In Russia, grooms have to overcome a veritable gauntlet before getting to the bride. At the door of the bride’s home, the groom is intercepted by a gaggle of troublemaking bridesmaids, who order him to go through several challenges before entering. He’ll be asked to sing, dance, recite poems, and sometimes must pay a ransom or else wind up with an alterna-bride (usually a burly male friend in a dress). Once he pays off the hordes with enough candy and riches, he’s finally gained access to the house and can now marry his chosen.
In China, grooms shoot the bride to show their love is true?
There’s true romance… and then there’s whatever the hell this is. Shooting three arrows at the bride to ensure long-lasting romance might sound counterintuitive, but that’s what we’re up against here with this particular wedding custom. It’s not quite as homicidal as it sounds: None of the arrows are adorned with arrowheads, and the groom snaps each arrow in half to symbolize the undying nature of their love.
Also in China, hour long “Planned Crying” sessions are totally a thing
There, there. China’s Tujia people insist that all brides “cry” for an hour every day for a month. For ten days prior to the wedding, the mother joins in to make sure the hour-long wailing is suitably overwrought. Five days into the ceremony, grandmothers join in. It all symbolizes just how happy the bride is to be getting married. Please note: In some cultures, happiness can also be symbolized by smiling and/or laughing.