A wedding is a ceremony at which a couple vows each other to spend their lives together in a marriage and to be there for each other for better or for worse.
The first recorded evidence of marriage ceremonies uniting a man and a woman were found on the territory of ancient Mesopotamia, dating back to 2,350 B.C.
Over the following several hundred years, marriage evolved into a widespread institution embraced by the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans.
However, a wedding wasn’t a celebration of love until recently. The main purpose of marriage was to bind a woman to a man and thus guarantee that the offspring are truly his biological heirs.
When women won the right to vote, a dramatic transformation of the institution of marriage began.
Once a man’s property, a woman now became a rightful citizen with a personal power of choice. People today choose by themselves when and who they are going to marry if they choose to marry at all.
Within the past 50 years, marriage has changed more than in the last 5,000. Over time, wedding traditions and customs have been changing the same way. Migrations of people and mixed marriages spiced it all up even more.
If you are about to sail into a marriage with a Swiss, you are at the right place to see what to expect.
Here are some Swiss wedding traditions, some of which might even surprise you!
The most popular period for weddings in Switzerland is between June and September. Almost 20,000 weddings a year take place during these four months.
In this period, castles, mansions, and lakeside restaurants from Geneva to St Gallen do a roaring trade, as do owners of limousines, antique cars and horse-drawn carriages who cart the newlyweds from party to party.
Before they exchange their vows in a church, the Swiss are obliged by the law to marry at a registry office first.
Once they have the proper documents, the newlyweds are free to hold a ceremony anywhere they choose.
Given that landscapes in Switzerland are incredibly beautiful, many bypass their local place of worship in favor of a lakeside, a castle courtyard, an alpine chapel, or even a mountaintop.
Couples that want to have a non-religious marriage ceremony can hire a freelance marriage registrar to conduct a ceremony anywhere. But even in that case, they still need to first complete a civil wedding and get the official document stating that in the eyes of law the couple is married.
To get married in Switzerland, one must be above 18 years old. Also, neither of the couples should be already in a marriage or a civil partnership, and those with a legal guardian must have their consent before getting married.
In Switzerland, same-sex marriages are forbidden by the law. However, homosexual couples can register civil partnership which is treated the same way as a marriage.
Although the number of couples who are content with just a civil ceremony followed by a party is rising, church weddings are still popular among the Swiss, even among those who are not regular churchgoers.
The traditional Swiss wedding consists of a church ceremony in early afternoon followed by an aperitif for about 100-150 people served nearby.
An elegant dinner for around 50 close friends and family members is then set up in a local restaurant. Couples also often choose popular luxury restaurants in a different town or even canton for their celebration of getting married.
Most of the Swiss marriage traditions are similar to Western European traditions. The engagement ring, for example, is a major component in Swiss marriages. It is made of gold and symbolizes the financial sacrifice that the groom makes for his bride-to-be.
As in any Western European wedding, the bride has something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue with herself on her wedding day.
Something old represents the continuity of tradition. This can be a scarf or a piece of jewelry passed on generations after generations.
Something new stands for the future and hope. It can be anything from wedding bands to clothing.
Something borrowed indicates future happiness and is usually a gift from a close friend of the bride who is happily married. Blue symbolizes purity and the couple tries to incorporate the color in their wedding outfit.
On the eve of the wedding, the future bride and groom have the wedding shower, a celebration of their last night as unmarried.
The guests often bring old porcelain with them which then they throw on the floor. It is believed that the broken glass brings good luck to the newlyweds.
On a traditional wedding in Switzerland, the Swiss bride wears a traditional crown or wreath on her head that represents her maidenhood and youth. After the couple exchanges the vows, the wreath is removed and burned. If it burns fast, the bride is regarded as lucky.
After that, the bride’s maid leads the guest to the reception place where the bride gives each of the guests a colored handkerchief. The handkerchief represents good luck and the guests give the bride a coin in the exchange for it.
The newly married Swiss couples plant a pine tree after the wedding ceremony. It symbolizes fertility and it is believed that planting a tree brings luck and many children into the new family.
In Switzerland, even the most elegant wedding is not complete without some amateur entertainment.
Traditionally, the best man and the maid-of-honor set up a detailed program of fun and games to fulfill the time between the afternoon’s aperitif and the dinner couple of hours later.
They organize photo shooting in funny costumes, they perform skits, play musical instruments, create elaborate gifts, all in order to honor or poke fun at the bride and groom.
One of the still popular games is kidnapping-the-bride and then forcing the groom to find her or making him chop a block of wood while she knits a scarf.
Some people choose to give a blunt saw to the bridal couple to jointly saw through a tree trunk.
Another popular game is the “Spalierstehen” or “faire la Haie”. When the newly married couple emerges from the church or registry office, they “walk the gauntlet” between two rows of friends, all wearing matching outfits.
The newlyweds march through a tunnel that may comprise upheld footballs, tennis rackets or skis, depending on the hobby of the bride and groom.
These customs symbolize the challenges awaiting the married couple and how they jointly overcome the obstacles, while the guests enjoy themselves heartily.
Switzerland is a multicultural country and therefore it is a medley of customs and traditions. The elements of new and old ways of entertainment against the scintillating nature make Swiss weddings surreal experience.
Luckily for us that we live in a modern time in which everybody has a freedom of choice. People are all different and not all couples have the same preferences.
Since on the wedding day the couple and their nuptials celebrate their love for each other, they get to choose the venue and the customs they want to incorporate.
In recent years, wedding limousine service has become more and more popular. There is a wide range of vehicles that can serve as a wedding limo, which can be specially decorated inside and out.
A limousine for a wedding makes the perfect entrance at the ceremony, and an even better escape right after the party and straight to the honeymoon.
Book your limousine on time and we will make your dream wedding come true.