• Graveyard Shift

9 Bizarre Wedding Traditions From Around The World

There are some insanely violent wedding ceremonies and traditions out there, to be sure, and some of them haven't altered with the centuries. Calling many of them "sacrificial rites" is perhaps a bit of a stretch... unless the marriage in question is to death, or the couple is getting into some ultra-extravagant and weird religious sex tradition – veins and mandalas a-flowing – with a charismatic cult leader looking on in ecstasy.

However, there's no doubt that most of these nuptial traditions do bear at least a superficial resemblance to sacrifices and Viking-style wedding rituals, and some of the items on this list –  like the "bride kidnappings" of Kyrgyzstan – are downright (un-symbolically) barbaric. To find out what happens when quaintly macabre traditions enter into the modern world of nuptials, read on.

  • Shooting Your Bride With An Arrow... Three Times

    Everyone longs to put an arrow through their beloved's heart ... and some cultures make it a "point" to take that longing literally. In the Gansu Province of Northwest China, it's apparently customary for a bridegroom to ritualistically shoot three arrows straight into the willing body of his lady wife. The most important feature of this practice? There are no actual arrowheads present, which makes the act purely symbolic as opposed to murderous. (Cupid's own aim was generally far more treacherous, and fatal, than that).

  • Staging Your Own Violent Death In Front Of Your Bride-To-Be

    Photo: Paramount Pictures

    "Fake Your Own Death Wedding Proposals," the newest non-trend making the rounds, may recall Bud Cort's whimsical staged suicides in Harold and Maude, but their actual implications are a great deal less charming. 

    According to New York Magazine, Harold imitators just don't have the wit and élan that it takes to pull something like this off. Such was certainly the case with 30-year-old Alexey Bykov, of Russia, who, according to reports:

    "Hired a movie director, stunt men, makeup artists, and, evidently, photographers, to stage a fatal car accident feet from where he’d arranged to meet his girlfriend, Irena Kolokov. When a paramedic told Kolokov her boyfriend had died, she broke down in tears. He 'then jumped to his feet and proposed to Irena still covered in fake blood.'"

    No word as to how the splattered bride-to-be responded, but after explanations from the potential groom like: "I wanted her to realize how empty her life would be without me, and how life would have no meaning without me," one would hope that a kicking to the curb would be imminent.

  • Bride Kidnappings: A Custom In The Tradition Of Snatching Virgins Off The Street To Sacrifice

    Photo: Raphael Tuck & Sons / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    When you think "bride kidnapping," you probably think of a fun, staged ritual that culminates in some kind of drunken merriment. But in modern-day Kyrgyzstan, bride abductions are real, troubling, and more than a little absurd.

    According to this 2013 feature in Newsweek: "In Kyrgyzstan, as many as 40% of ethnic Kyrgyz women are married after being kidnapped by the men who become their husbands." The process goes like this: the woman is "often literally dragged off the street, bundled into the car and taken straight to the man's – where frequently the family will have already started making preparations for the wedding."

    What happens next, though, is even more bizarre: since the wedding cannot technically take place without the bride's consent, various measures are taken to intimidate and/or "convince" her. Elderly female relatives of the kidnapper tear their hair, gnash their teeth, and plead with the bride to give in, and they sometimes even try to force a white scarf (which is a symbol of marriage) onto her head to shame her into accepting.

    Sometimes, the girl is so terrified that she accepts simply to get out of being a frenzied family centerpiece. Other times, if she can take the hazing, she simply says no or is rescued by gallant male relatives who come and take her home (although not without being harassed and pleaded with themselves).

  • Being Forced To Hold Your Fecal Matter And Urine In

    This one sounds like some kind of grotesque murder ritual... akin to something the homicidal protagonist in the film Seven would do, for example (remember when he made that godless sinner eat himself to death?). Nevertheless, there is a wedding tradition in Indonesia that requires both bride and groom to expel neither urine nor feces for three whole days after their wedding.

    Think about what the term "after the wedding" could possibly imply in this context. Marriages are generally full of drinking, feasting, and general gluttony, so not being able to go to the bathroom in the wake of such partying seems like a particularly impossible task.

    In this case, the couple is only allowed minimal food and drink, so perhaps that's not a factor. And peeing or pooping on the sly isn't a good idea, anyway; it apparently has terrible repercussions, up to and including: "a broken marriage, infidelity, or [the] death of [the couple's] children at a young age."