When an Amish couple wants to marry, the man asks a churchman to ask the woman's parents for their approval. If consent is given, the marriage is announced two weeks before the wedding. The wedding takes place on a Tuesday or Wednesday in November, after the harvest. The bride wears white for the first and only time in her life. There are no rings, photographs, or flowers at the wedding. There is no honeymoon and the couple does not live together until the springtime, after a series of weekend visits with family and friends.
Arab marriages are arranged between two families. They agree on the amount of money to be paid the bride's family for her trousseau (a wardrobe the bride acquires before marriage). An Arab bride celebrates her wedding in an ancient ceremony that excludes men. The bride's hair is covered with henna, a deep red dye, and her body is elaborately painted by her friends. Afterward the women all dance together.
In France, one couple may have three marriage ceremonies. The first is the civil ceremony, which is performed in the town hall with the mayor officiating. The second ceremony is religious, usually Roman Catholic, performed by a priest. The third takes place if the couple lives in the countryside. In this ceremony, the people of the village host a 10-course banquet for the bride and groom in which there is singing, storytelling, games, and toasting. The villagers bang pots and pans to remind the couple of the possible difficulties of marriage.
In a wedding ceremony in Germany, the bride and groom hold candles decorated with ribbons and flowers.
At a Greek wedding ceremony a guest of honor, known as the koumbaros, crowns the wedding couple and joins them in a symbolic gesture by circling the alter three times.
Child marriages are still common in parts of rural India, where it is not unusual for 7-year-olds to marry! On the day of the ceremony, the young groom rides into town on a horse followed by hundreds of friends and relatives. A local wise man chants wedding mantras, or prayers. The bride and groom walk around a ceremonial fire seven times. The bride goes to live in her husband's house for three days. She then returns to her own house to await puberty, when she will be reunited with her husband.
After the wedding ceremony the newlyweds are showered with confetti made of sugar-coated almonds. This confetti symbolizes the bitterness and sweetness of married life.
Japanese couples are traditionally introduced by a nakodo, or go-between, who is usually a friend or relative. The engagement is celebrated with a toast of sake (Japanese wine made from rice) and an exchange of presents such as seaweed, fish, fans, and thread. The most common wedding ceremony in Japan is the Shinto ceremony. The bride and groom sit at the altar of a shrine with their parents and the go-between. After being purified by a Shinto priest, the bride and groom each drink from three cups of sake three times. The bride wears a white kimono to symbolize the death of her ties to her own family. She also wears a special hat known as a horn cover to cover her horns of jealousy. The marriage is legal when the couple registers at a local government office.
These nomadic people live in Central Africa. A Mbuti man must prove his worth to a woman's parents by catching an antelope single-handedly and offering it to them. He also gives small gifts of roots, nuts, or birds, or orchids from the tops of the tallest trees in the forest. When the couple is ready to be married they build a house and live together. They are finally married three days after the bride gives birth to her first child.