Say Yes To The Dress: Bridal Gowns From Around The World

One of the most fundamental parts of a wedding is the bride’s dress. The eye-catching gown is a reflection of beauty norms that differ vastly depending on the country. In traditional wedding ceremonies, the bride and grooms’ attire becomes a symbol of cultural pride. From elaborate headdresses to heavily patterned garments, these customary costumes reveal that not every bride prefers the poofy white dress. You’ll be amazed at how vastly different weddings look around the world.

Japanese Brides Wear A “Wataboshi”

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In traditional Japanese weddings, the family of the bride and groom exchange gifts at a pre-ceremony dinner. These prizes include a wedding sash from the groom’s family to the bride, and a jacket and trousers from the bride’s family to the groom.

The bride wears a white komono while the groom wears a black one, along with their family gifts. One of the most distinguishable characteristics of their attire is the bride’s round headpiece, called a wataboshi.

Moroccan Brides Are Carried By The Groom’s Family

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Getty Images

At traditional Moroccan weddings, the bride will wear a takchita, a two-piece garment reserved for special occasions. The first layer consists of a fine and simple fabric, while the top layer is ornately decorated with beading, sequins, and embroidery.

The bride will also wear a matching headpiece that is equally elaborate and features long, flowing fabric that trails down her back. The ceremony includes a ritual wherein the groom’s family carries the bride on a four-post structure to symbolize the ability to support her.

Indian Brides Often Wear A Red Sari

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PAL PILLAI/AFP via Getty Images
PAL PILLAI/AFP via Getty Images

While American brides often wear white, Indian brides tend to favor red gowns. There are various styles of dresses appropriate for the wedding, but perhaps the most popular is the sari.

This kind of garment drapes over the waist and one shoulder and often features gorgeous patterns and jewels. In some regions, brides prefer to wear a lehenga, a two-piece outfit consisting of a short top and long skirt that reveals a portion of midriff.

Mongolian Brides Wear Bright Colors To Contrast The Groom

China Photos/Getty Images
China Photos/Getty Images

Mongolians wear custom clothing, called dels, that are reserved for special occasions and weddings. The bride’s attire traditionally consists of lighter colors, while the groom’s will be darker.

The costumes are made of cotton and silk and feature embroidered patterns. The bride also wears a headpiece with strings of beads that hang down next to her face. The extravagant ceremony lasts only a day in cities, but can carry on for up to four days in the countryside.

German Brides Where A Standout Headpiece

Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images
Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images

In traditional German weddings, the bride stands out from the rest not for her dress, but her headdress. The piece looks like the base of a Christmas tree and is far more tall and wide than the bride’s head!

The style varies depending on the region. In the Black Forest valley, the massive headdress is typically decorated with beads and glass balls that look like tree ornaments. Transversely, Buckenberg brides often embellish their headdresses with flowers.

Ghanaian Brides Wear Family-Based Patterns

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@balta_aft/Twitter
@balta_aft/Twitter

In Ghana, the bride and groom wear matching attire made out of kente. The handwoven clothes feature bright colors and unique patterns specially-made for the couple. The geometric designs include the cloth pattern of each family to symbolize the joining of both sides.

The start of the wedding tradition begins with the proposal. The man heads to the woman’s house with his entire family. He then asks for her hand in front of all his loved ones.

Chinese Brides Wear Red And Gold Silk

Xinhua/Yin Zhong via Getty Images
Xinhua/Yin Zhong via Getty Images

At a traditional Chinese wedding, you can expect to see a lot of red. The color represents luck, as does the golden dragon embroidered into their costumes. Rather than wearing a sheer veil, the bride sometimes wears a red, satin veil.

The groom typically lifts the veil with a steelyard. The ritual stems from arranged marriages, wherein the bride and groom wouldn’t meet until their wedding day. The silk veil would hide the bride’s blushing face, masking her nerves leading up to the groom’s unveiling.

Russian Brides Wear A Crown

Danila ShostakTASS via Getty Images
Danila ShostakTASS via Getty Images

If you want to feel like royalty on your wedding day, consider performing a traditional Russian wedding. This ritual consists of the bride and groom wearing actual crowns after they say their vows.

Traditionally, the couple would continue to wear the crowns for eight days! Nowadays, they typically take them off after the ceremony. Even so, these traditional weddings consist of so many elaborate rituals that they can last between two days and a week long!

Romanian Brides Wear Heavily-Patterned Layers

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DeAgostini/Getty Images

Traditional Romanian weddings are easy to spot with their multilayered outfits bursting with colorful patterns. The woman’s skirt is called a ‘fotă’ and her headdress a maramă’. The parents of the bride and groom organize various rituals, such as creating the costumes and choosing the godparents.

The groom is dressed nearly as richly as the bride, sporting a similar vest and headdress. One thing that distinguishes the two is that the bride will wear a plethora of beaded necklaces.

Indonesian Brides Wear Gold Headpieces And Jewelry

Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Since Indonesia consists of more than 17,000 islands with various regional subcultures, the wedding traditions can vary substantially. If there’s one thing that links them, though, it’s gold. The bride and groom sport luxurious headpieces basked in gold.

Both of their outfits often include the colors gold, black, and red. The bride will also wear a plethora of gold jewelry. Since many Indonesian monuments feature gold, the material is a way to honor their culture and history.

Norwegian Brides Wear Embroidered “Bunad”

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Getty Images

In Norway, a traditional ceremony would consist of both the bride and groom dressing in attire known as bunad. The woman’s bunad is typically a long, dark blue dress with a flowy, long-sleeved shirt underneath.

The chest often features embroidered patterns that trail down the skirt. The groom’s outfit typically consists of a colorful vest beneath a dark jacket lined with bright buttons. He also wears dark trousers that end at the calves, exposing tall, white socks.

Peruvian Brides Wear Patterned Ponchos

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Fubiz/Pinterest

Perhaps the most bright and heavily patterned wedding costumes are that of a traditional Peruvian ceremony. The bride and groom alike wear headdresses and ponchos that feature quilt-like designs and a vivid color scheme.

The woven hats will often feature tassels that further embellish the outfit. Bakers design the wedding cake to match the elaborate costumes. In a ritual similar to catching the bouquet, the baker will place a ring attached to a ribbon in the cake. Bachelorettes can come up and pull the cake’s ribbons, and the one who gets the ring is declared the next to get married.

Hungarian Brides Wear Flowers And Wheat For Fertility

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Paul Almasy/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Hungarian wedding gowns are regarded for their intricate embroidery. The gowns are often colorful and feature flowers as a symbol of fertility. Likewise, they wear elaborate headpieces woven from wheat, another symbol of fertility.

After a series of rituals, ending with a candlelight waltz, the bride and groom will leave to change into their post-ceremony attire. Typically the woman will emerge in a red dress, symbolic of her transition into wife-hood. This usually happens around midnight, marking a new day.

Korean Brides Wear Vivid Hanboks

Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In Korea, the wedding attire of both the bride and the groom is called hanbok and is lightweight and vibrant. The bride’s hanbok consists of a long-sleeved, short jacket and a skirt. The groom wears a similar jacket and baggy trousers.

Red dots on the bride’s cheeks are meant to repel evil. The bride also wears a headpiece and carries a silk fabric across her arms as part of the ensemble. Wedding guests can also wear hanboks that are more simple but color-coordinated with the bride.

Malaysian Brides Wear Tiaras

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In Malaysia, brides and grooms often wear similar-looking outfits. Both feature long sleeves and a sarong. The main difference is that the male wears trousers while the female wears a long skirt.

The bride’s outfit also tends to feature more jewels and gems than that of the groom, though his ensemble does include pendants. The couple’s matching clothes often have a purple or violet color scheme. Like royalty, both sit on decorated thrones and the bride even wears a tiara.

Uzbek Brides Wear Intricate Hooded Gowns

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NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

While some traditions call for either the bride’s parents or both sets of parents to pay for the wedding, in Uzbekistan the financial burden falls on the groom’s parents. Considering how elaborate and grandiose the costumes are, we can imagine these ceremonies get quite costly.

The bride’s colorful outfit consists of hand-embroidered patterns that run from her head to her toes. The groom wears similarly patterened attire, though his costume has less layers and isn’t quite as glamorous as that of the bride.

Bulgarian Brides Wear Face Paint And Sequins

NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP via Getty Images
NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP via Getty Images

In Bulgaria, a practice called gelena consists of covering the bride’s face in white paint and decorating it with colorful sequins. The groom’s family performs the ritual. The woman also wears a headpiece decorated with beads and flowers.

Afterward, tinsel is draped over her face and a red veil covers her hair. The bride and groom then partake in a traditional dance. Many of the village’s youth join them in the horo dance on the central square.

Kazakhstan Brides Wear Tall, Elaborate Headdresses

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Fubiz/Pinterest

At many weddings around the world, the bride’s dress is the most lavish item at the ceremony. In Kazakhstan, the dress comes second to the bride’s ornate headdress, called a suakele. The cone-shaped headdresses often stand at more than a foot tall!

They are decorated with expensive jewels and other luxurious materials. Wealthier women will have suakeles adorned in velvet, gold, and pearls. The less affluent make theirs out of satin, glass beads, and coral.

Nigerian Brides Wear Bright Head Ties

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@AfroUp/Facebook
@AfroUp/Facebook

Nigerian brides are easily recognized by their head ties, called a gele. The groom also wears a headpiece, though his isn’t quite as large and looks more like a hat. Wedding guests will also sport these headdresses. Typically, the bride and groom will have matching costumes.

Since Nigeria features more than two hundred ethnic groups, the wedding rituals can range quite a bit. One thing that seems consistent, though, is the prevalence of bright, matching colors.

Scottish Brides Wear A Clan-Inspired Shawl

Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In traditional Scottish weddings, it’s not the bride’s attire that gives away the culture, but rather is that of the groom. The woman is often dressed in a classic, white dress. The groom, on the other hand, wears the recognizable kilt as an homage to their clan.

After their vows, the bride will often put on a shawl made to match her husband’s kilt. The shawl is meant to symbolize the woman’s entrance into the clan.