Wedding customs have existed since time immemorial. Although most of them are no longer up-to-date, they are still very popular and partly "in fashion" again. Their meaning and symbolism has changed over time. Often wedding traditions from different countries have been adde or Americanised. In Austria, many old customs are traditions, some throughout the whole country, some only in certain regions. We reveal to you the best Austrian wedding customs in the Salzburger Sportwelt.
In Austria it is customary for the bride to spend the last night before the wedding in her parents' house, without her future husband. Traditionally, friends of the bride come to sing the "bridal song" and thus remind the bride to examine the upcoming event one last time - so she says her "I do" with the deepest of conviction and purest love!
Something old, to preserve the family tradition. Something new, to symbolise a blessed future and optimism. Something borrowed, for example from a dear friend or relative. Something blue, symbolising the Virgin Mary - most often brides-to-be choose the famous garter. It is also now customary to "auction" this garter during the festivities to raise money for the bride and groom, for example.
A fun Austrian custom is the "wedding play". After the church wedding ceremony, friends of the bride and groom wait for the guests to entertain them with a little play - with only the most "embarrassing" stories of the bride and groom, of course. Costumed and decorated, this is always fun entertainment for family, friends and acquaintances.
Pinning "button holes" is also interesting. Each wedding guest receives a beautiful mini bouquet (usually handmade by the bride and her friends) - the married ones pin theirs on the right and the single ones on the left 😊 This "marks" the people who are still available - how appropriate at a wedding!
Which hand is on top of the knife and thus exerts the decisive pressure? Who will "wear the trousers" in the marriage in future, i.e. who will be in charge at home, will become clear when the wedding cake is cut!
Probably the funniest wedding custom is "stealing the bride" and is widespread throughout Austria. During the bridal dance (the newlyweds are allowed to dance one or two rounds on the dance floor), the bride is "stolen" (by the male audience) and taken to a nearby pub, where the party gets boisterous and a schnapps or two is consumed. The groom, together with the ladies' part of the party, has to find her and do so before midnight - otherwise he is said to lose the right to share the wedding night. He also has to pay the bill at the pub. With this act, the groom buys the bride free, so to speak. Only the bridal bouquet can redeem him from the bill. If the kidnappers have failed to take the bride along with her bouquet, the groom can buy the bride's freedom with her bouquet.
A sign of fate! - The custom that originated in the USA is also very popular here in Austria. The bride throws the bouquet over her shoulder into the assembly of single women. Whoever catches the bouquet will probably be the next to walk down the aisle with her partner.
If someone succeeds in stealing the bride's bouquet, the next drinks are secured! For the stolen bouquet, the bride and groom often have to dig deep into their pockets and buy it back. Most of the time, a few rounds of drinks or a case of beer will get the bouquet back to the bride! So bride - be vigilant and keep an eye on your bouquet!
Going out to celebrate with your friends one last time in "freedom" - that is the motto of a stag/hen party. It is the custom to spend a day (into the night) with your friends and celebrate exuberantly! Usually the best man/maid of honour organises this and the bride/groom are surprised! The fun party fund is replenished by the sale of fun articles. In this way, the group (male and female separately) parades through the town and bids farewell to the bride/groom's single status.
Traditionally, the wedding menu includes the wedding soup! The bride and groom are allowed into the kitchen and, under the critical eye of the chef, salt the wedding soup. On the one hand, the salt is said to ensure healthy and strong children and on the other hand, the groom's cooking abilities are checked in advance :-)
Another centuries-old custom is to carry the bride over the threshold. On the one hand, this symbolises the beginning of a new phase of life and, on the other, to protect her from evil spirits. There is a superstition that evil spirits wait in the floorboards and under the threshold of the house and lie in wait for the bride. To protect her from them, the groom carries his bride over the threshold, and hopefully cares for here for evermore.
A funny old custom is to wake up the bride and groom in the early hours of the morning with firecrackers, bangers or brass music! With a hearty snack and beer, the day gets off to an atmospheric start. Beforehand, it is advisable to let the council or at least the people who are inaugurating the event know! This custom goes back to the fact that it was the bride's last night as an unmarried woman in her parents' house. The noise made when the bride was woken up was intended to drive away evil spirits on the one hand and to welcome the new phase of her life on the other.
All the invited guests escort the bride and groom to the wedding venue in a wedding procession of cars. The procession drives through the town or city, everyone honking their horns, drawing attention to the wedding and thus driving away the evil spirits! The "bride and groom's car" leads the procession and is decorated with flowers!
It is a very beautiful and touching custom that the little wedding guests, the children, recite a poem to the bride and groom - usually based on the life of the bride and groom. It is possible that some of the guests and the bride and groom will shed a few tears. To thank them for their courage, the children receive a small gift from the bride and groom, e.g. something sweet or a token.
Usually around midnight, the bride and groom are "played out", i.e. given a musical farewell. The music and the wedding guests gather in front of the venue and ceremoniously dismiss the bridal couple into the wedding night. But it's not that easy - usually the bride and groom sneak back in through the back door and mingle with the crowd! It would be a shame to go to bed so early :-)
Sometimes it can also happen that friends of the bride and groom "redecorate" the empty flat on the day of the wedding. Unfortunately, this is usually to the annoyance of the bride and groom. You could scatter confetti all over the flat or hide lots of alarm clocks in different places at different times ... the ideas are endless here! But please don't overdo it!
The custom of the "page boys/flower girls" goes back to Germanic paganism and is supposed to ensure fertility and the blessing of children! The little wedding guests are allowed to throw flowers at the bride and groom after the ceremony. The sweet scent is said to attract the fertility goddess "Freya". A blessing for the bride and groom and a great honour for the children!