Serbian wedding traditions date back many years and have their origins in the farming communities of Serbia – meaning certain traditions didn’t last the test of time. However, Serbian traditions are loud and fun and some are still practised today.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a Serbian wedding, you’ll want to check out these 6 quirky wedding traditions (apologies for the FOMO).
A Flag Bearer Has To Lead The Wedding Party
If a wedding party is travelling all together, a Barjaktar (a flag bearer) must lead the way. This occurs any time a wedding party is walking as a group, including when the bridal party walks into the Church and the reception.
Via Peter Gubernat
The Groom Has To Shoot Down An Apple
An older tradition mostly done in Serbian villages due to the danger of using guns in urban areas. The practice involves hanging an apple high in a tree beside the bride’s home, where the groom must then use a rifle to shoot down the apple before he can enter the house. Modern interpretations of this tradition now include picking the apple from the front of the bride’s house.
The Best Man Has To “Buy” The Bride
Another old tradition not practised by all, but played for laughs. The bride is hidden inside her house while the groom’s party drink, eat, and dance as the groom cannot see her until the ceremony. The groom then leaves for the Church while the wedding host (called the Domaćin) announces that the remaining party are there to buy a beautiful “flower” (the bride) to take her to the Church.
The best man must then negotiate a price with the Dever (bride’s eldest brother/male relative), slowly raising the price while the Dever gives him other things in exchange, including other members of the wedding party (even men dressed as the bride, known as “fake brides”). Once they’ve reached an agreed price, the bride is then brought out and the groom’s father says a short speech to welcome the bride into the family.
Bride’s Carry Mirrors and Wear Garlic
Some brides carry around small mirrors on their wedding day in order to ward off demons who are fearful of their reflections. In order to avoid bad luck, some brides also place a clove of garlic on their chest as they are getting ready.
The Godfather Throws Coins At The Crowd
After the ceremony, the couple’s best man (Kum) and maid of honour (kuma) stand beside the flag bearer, where the godfather pulls out a bag filled with coins, sometimes also filled with chocolate and lollies. The crowd waiting outside the Church then yell that his bag is on fire and the godfather throws the coins into the crowd for them to collect.
The Bride’s Shoe Is Stolen And Held For Ransom
During the wedding reception, the bride’s shoe is “stolen” off her, with the thief taking to the stage to announce that they are holding it for ransom. The reason it is stolen is to stop the bride from dancing, which means no one else can dance. The thief then collects money from the guests to pay the ransom and when they have reached the target, both the shoe and the money are given to the bride.
Cover image by AGI Studio