From our wedding: bridal veil; bridal crown; hair pins shaped like rue leaves, a bridal custom from Lithuania
Local wedding customs are difficult to describe. For one, by their nature they’re usually passed on orally, not in writing. For another, an unfortunate consequence of the Council of Trent was a widespread loss of local customs in favor of uniformity with Rome. Combined with a dramatic rise in homogenous global customs, local/traditional wedding customs can be hard to come by.
What I have found on this topic is scattershot, varying in verifiability, and largely personal (i.e., I am half Lithuanian-American, and half Irish-American, so the customs I know the best are from Lithuania and Ireland).
I have arranged the customs thematically, and will add examples of each custom as I find them in newspapers, literature, and stories.
If you are interested in researching more about local customs, try historical archives and online newspaper collections.
If you know of a Catholic wedding custom, let me know!
Norway: “The youth’s head is bare; the bride wears her marriage crown as proudly as any queen.”
“Philadelphia Letter.” The Catholic Telegraph, July 6, 1876. https://thecatholicnewsarchive.org/?a=d&d=TCT18760706-01.1.1&srpos=7&e=——-en-20–1-byDA-txt-txIN-%22bride+crown%22~10——.
Veiling could refer to two things: the veil worn by the bride, or the pall, or cloth, raised over the couple’s hands or heads.
DiPippo, Gregory. “The Velatio Nuptialis: An Ancient (and Forgotten) Part of the Latin Marriage Rite.” New Liturgical Movement (blog), February 8, 2019. http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2019/02/the-velatio-nuptialis-ancient-and.html.
America: “The new tabernacle curtain at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church runs on golden wedding rings. The curtain and the wedding-ring idea were copied after the curtain in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in Westminster Cathedral, London, at the suggestion of the pastor, the Rev. Henry van Boxel. Wedding rings which in some families had been handed down from generation to generation and the wedding rings of widows were given for this Louisiana church.”
“Tabernacle Curtain Runs on Golden Wedding Rings.” Catholic News Service, November 8, 1950. https://thecatholicnewsarchive.org/?a=d&d=cns19501108-01.1.7.
“In Christian tradition the wedding ring was not highly ornamented; the important thing was rather that it be of pure, unalloyed metal, symbolizing true marriage, the Rev. Dr. Edgar Schmiedeler, 0.S.B.. Director of the Family Life Bureau of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, declared on the Faith in Our Time program.”
“Elaborate Wedding Rings Are Not in Christian Tradition, Speaker Says.” Catholic News Service, April 25, 1949. https://thecatholicnewsarchive.org/?a=d&d=cns19490425-01.1.11&srpos=2&e=——-en-20–1-byDA-txt-txIN-%22wedding+tradition%22~10——.
For more information, visit the Flowers page;
South Philadelphia, America: “In a display that has remained a unique feature of South Philly culture, the groom is expected to “surprise” his bride at some point before the wedding (often the day before) by singing to her from the street.”
Friel, David. “Only the Lover Sings.” Corpus Christi Watershed, Oct. 2014, http://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2014/oct/26/only-lover-sings/.
Europe: While the focus of this book is Holy Week, Monti has quite a few references to local wedding customs from across Western Europe.
Monti, James. The Week of Salvation: History and Traditions of Holy Week. Our Sunday Visitor, 1993, https://books.google.com/books?id=bmPGtAEACAAJ.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to see a list of some wedding customs.
“Holy Matrimony.” Fish Eaters, https://www.fisheaters.com/holymatrimony.html. Accessed 3 June, 2019.
At one lime the marriage custom of York, Eng., required that the bride throw herself at the feel of her husband if he gave her land as part of the dowry. And many dioceses in France had the couple lie prone before the altar with a pall held over them during the nuptial blessing. These rites may seem peculiar, but modern day marriage customs had their origins centuries ago in practices equally strange to us.
“Kissing, Dowries, Ancient Customs.” Clarion Herald, May 9, 1963. https://thecatholicnewsarchive.org/?a=d&d=cher19630509-01.1.8&srpos=33&e=——-en-20–21-byDA-txt-txIN-%22bride+crown%22~10——.
“Nuptial Rites Follow Customs of Society.” Clarion Herald, April 30, 1964. https://thecatholicnewsarchive.org/?a=d&d=cher19640430-01.1.31&srpos=38&e=——-en-20–21-byDA-txt-txIN-%22wedding+tradition%22~10——.
Klauder, Alexander Laurence Alphonsus. Catholic Practice at Church and at Home. The Parishioner’s Little Rule Book, a Guide for Catholics in the External Practice of Their Holy Religion, pp. 114-133. Boston, Mass., Angel guardian press, 1898. http://archive.org/details/catholicpractice01klau.