On the first glimpse, we could say that weddings are so clearly different on the two opposite ends of the world that one could even get a cultural shock by simply attending one far away from their home. Although this is true about the most visible aspects, we can say generally that most weddings have a few very important things in common regardless of the culture that influences the ceremonial process. What we can find in most regions is the sincere effort of the families and the community to express their good wishes and a lot of traditions that are meant to secure the prosperity, fertility, and happiness of the new couple. We can find an abundance of symbols knitted into the various ceremonies that are meant to bring the best of lucks to the newlyweds.
Giving a wedding gift to a newly-wedded couple represents one’s affirmation of the union. Hence, wedding gifts are important. Some cultures tend to give gifts that are more symbolic, while others are more practical and try to actually provide for the new family considerably.
In Sweden, it is customary for the bride’s father to place a silver coin in the bride’s left shoe, while her mother places a golden coin in her right shoe. This tradition symbolizes the wish for their daughter to be well provided for and well-fed when she enters her new family. In Germany, it is the groom who is presented with grains to symbolize wishes for his wealth and good fortune to come.
In the same time, Eastern cultures are also abundant in traditions of giving gifts of good wishes. The Vietnamese present pink chalk to the newly-weds as a symbol of their wish for the newly-weds finding marital bliss. In Tibet, friends, and family of the newlyweds tie gift scarves around the couple’s necks. These scarves are called kharta, and they symbolize kindness and purity.
Family and friends often take care of the couple in more practical ways. In the USA, for example, the value of the gifts range from modest to outrageous depending on the region and subculture. Some consider giving money to the couple insulting while in other subcultures it is expected of the guests to compensate the couple for throwing them a party. Bridal registries are widely acceptable where the bride and the groom register the gifts they would like to receive. These are mostly household items and cutlery they need to start a life together. These customs can be found in Europe as well in various forms.
It is not uncommon on the East to give money either. In some cultures, the families presenting the dowry is often a key aspect of the ceremony. But guests contribute, too. On a typical Chinese wedding, friends and family of the couple present them with red packets containing new currencies. Malaysian wedding guests will also give money to the happy couple, but they will fold it into origami flowers and cranes. There is also the tradition of bunga telur: eggs decorated with flowers and often presented in boxes. They are a symbol for fertility and a hope that the couple will have many children.
The place where East and West meets is home to a usually lovely and very modern mix of the two worlds.