No matter how many weddings you’ve attended here in the States, with however many different and interesting themes, chances are most of them were a traditional “white wedding.” Perhaps there were pops of color from the beautiful flowers or the bridesmaids’ dresses, but more often than not, American brides choose to wear a floor-length white gown. Going “offbeat” and wearing a non-traditional, colorful wedding dress is becoming more popular in the U.S., but wearing brightly-colored wedding garb is nothing new in many countries around the world. Here’s a sample of some of the most vivid and bold ceremonial wear donned by brides and grooms around the globe:
Chinese Bride in Phoenix Headdress 1 of 15
A Chinese bride in a traditional blue phoenix headdress. Chinese traditional bridal gowns and headpieces symbolize the coming together of the dragon and phoenix, representing the balance of male and female power.
Wedding in Beijing 2 of 15
This gorgeous couple takes a modern twist on tradition with the bride in an elegant red and gold dress. Red is typically the central color of Chinese weddings, as it "signifies love, joy and prosperity and is used in a variety of ways in Chinese wedding traditions," according to World Wedding Traditions. "The bride's wedding gown is often red, as are the wedding invitations and wedding gift boxes or envelopes for cash gifts. Even the bride and groom's homes are decorated in red on the wedding day," notes the site.
Traditional Chinese Bridal Headdress 3 of 15
The beads on this headdress serve as a veil.
Traditional Chinese Gowns for Bride and Groom 4 of 15
In modern China, couples often wear Western bridal garb (white dress, tuxedo) for one part of the ceremony, then change into traditional gowns for another part of the celebration. According to the photographer at this wedding, this was taken during "section three of the banquet: the couple are in traditional wedding suits and the groom will uncover the bride's red veil with a stick ... this part is really entertaining."
Temple of Heaven 5 of 15
Another bride and groom in Beijing put a modern spin on Chinese tradition while onlookers take their photo at the Temple of Heaven.
Nigerian Couple in Blue 6 of 15
I absolutely love the Nigerian tradition of color-coordinated outfits for the bride and groom. Nigerian weddings usually have two components, the traditional wedding (which can also be referred to as the engagement) and the "white wedding," which may not take place on the same day. Outfits like the ones seen above are worn during the traditional wedding, then Western formal wear is worn to the church wedding, though some couples combine elements of the two types of ceremonies into one event. At the church wedding, the bride's family and friends often wear traditionally-inspired outfits (some with a modern flair) made of the same fabric (referred to as aso-ebi). Each guest can incorporate the aso-ebi (which loosely translates to "fabric of the family") in their own way, which leads to a stunning-looking crowd. For examples of aso-ebi as worn at real weddings, check out this great blog.
Nigerian Couple in Red and White 7 of 15
At a traditional Nigerian wedding, the bride and groom will often wear matching beads as well.
Bride with Face Paint in West Bengal, India 8 of 15
Brides in the Bengal region are typically painted with this kind of ornate red and white forehead bindi for their wedding day and usually wear large hoops through their noses, as well as lots of other jewelry.
Arranged Marriage in Jaipur, India 9 of 15
An Indian couple wearing traditional wedding garb, including varmala (also called jaimala), the white floral garlands you see around their necks. Hindu couples exchange these during their wedding ceremony to show acceptance of each other.
Groom on Horseback in New Delhi, India 10 of 15
In North India and Pakistan, it is customary for the groom to travel to the wedding venue on horseback in what is called the baraat. The groom is often surrounded by a band and dancers, called the baraatis. This groom is wearing a floral veil, called sehra, which is tied to his turban, also a tradition in North India. "The veil is believed to protect him from the evil eye. At some point before the ceremony, someone from the bride's family lifts the veil briefly to ensure that the groom is the chosen one and not an impostor," according to Confetti Celebrations.
Hindu Bride in Orange and Blue 11 of 15
According to this blog dedicated to sarees, "The brides of almost all castes nowadays prefer sarees of red color during weddings. Red is also auspicious because it reflects emotional and fertility-related qualities, thus making it a suitable color for brides and young married women." As you can see from this photo, though, Hindu brides do wear other rich colors like orange and fuchsia.
Hindu Bride Wearing Henna 12 of 15
Taken at a Hindu wedding in Rourkela, India. The henna, or mendhi, is applied to the bride's hands as part of the pre-wedding ceremonies.
Scotsmen in Kilts 13 of 15
Scottish men have been wearing kilts since the 16th century, and men all over the U.K. opt to wear them formally at weddings. Tartans may be chosen due to family significance, or simply for color. This kilted wedding was photographed in Inverness, Scotland.
Groomsmen in Purple Plaid 14 of 15
Along with kilts, Scottish men wear kilt hose (the tall white socks you see) and ghillies on their feet. Kilts are often paired with leather and fur pouches known as sporran. Taken at Atholl Palace in Pitlochry, Scotland.
Japanese Bride in Kimono with Cherry Blossoms 15 of 15
Western-style wedding ceremonies are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, but some couples still participate in (expensive) traditional Shinto weddings. This bride is dressed in a traditional kimono, but when the Shinto ceremony takes place at a shrine, the bride wears only the white under layers, along with a white headdress. To see more photos from this couple's traditional Shinto wedding photo shoot, click here. Shinto ceremonies are very private and are not photographed, but couples are photographed extensively before the ceremony.