Canadians from coast to coast look for any excuse to either host or attend a good celebratory party, and when it comes to interesting cultural wedding traditions, Canada has a few unique ones. Some are certainly not unique just to Canada, but are alive and well in the Canadian provinces and northern territories and practiced at a large number of weddings in Canada. Other wedding traditions Canada style, used to be popular but are slowing falling out of favour, perhaps due to their overly formal nature and the country’s current laidback joie de vivre (joy of living). Still, like any other country around the world, from China and Russia to Germany and Japan, there are distinct wedding traditions Canada style that are sometimes dependant on their regional location across the great Canuck nation.
From the rugged east coastal lines of Newfoundland to the glorious western ocean vistas of British Columbia, Canada is a diverse country in terms of its people and its weather systems – both of which influence wedding traditions. However, no matter what province or territory the wedding is taking place in, one thing is for sure – Canadians sure know how to throw a party and that certainly includes the engagement celebration, bridal shower, bachelor party and of course, wedding ceremony and the reception.
Canadians are known the world over to be a nation of kind, generous and hospitable people. Naturally, that means that Canadian weddings can be some of the most memorable nuptial affairs on the planet. Like many countries, white wedding dresses and a formal dinner following the wedding ceremony are still very popular.
In Canada, reception toasting often takes on the form of a `bride and groom roast’. The best man, maid of honour, father of the bride and brother of the groom stand at the head table, and tell funny (often embarrassing) stories about the bride and/or groom, before offering a best wishes toast with wine or Canadian pilsner spirits from a favourite local brewery.
A vanishing but lovely Canadian tradition is the trousseau tea. This is a party that is hosted by the bride’s mother; with neighbours, colleagues and acquaintances invited who are not on the wedding guest list. The mother of the bride would lay out the bride’s trousseau (bridal shower and wedding gifts) for the attendees to admire. It is also a time to allow those not invited to the actual wedding and/or reception to share in the joy with the bride and groom, and offer their best wishes, without feeling left out by the bride and groom. It was particularly popular in smaller communities, where the bride’s parents could not invite everyone, but did not want anyone to feel left out. What a lovely tradition… Too bad, it is still not as popular as it used to be – especially with the rising costs of weddings these days and the dwindling wedding guest list. Maybe the Canadian trousseau tea will make a comeback!
Traditional Canadian weddings most often take place in a church and wedding parties are known to be large including a best man, maid or matron of honour, several bridesmaids and groomsmen or ushers, a flower girl and a ring bearer.
At the end of the ceremony it is traditional in Canada for the officiate to ask if anyone present knows of any reason or has just cause that should prevent the bride and groom from marrying. When no one present objects (hopefully!) the minister will proceed with the ceremony and the ring exchange will take place, following by the pronouncement of husband and wife, and finally the first kiss as a newlywed couple. At the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, as the couple exit the church, it is customary for guests to shower the couple with rice, wheat or confetti. Rice and wheat are both symbols of fertility and confetti is a more acceptable non-injurious item to throw at the couple.
A Canadian wedding tradition to assist the couple with paying for their honeymoon and setting up house expenses is known as the Wedding Wheel. At the reception, wedding guests form two lines, where they pay a dollar (or more) to dance with the bride and groom. In other countries (and also in parts of Canada), instead of the wedding wheel, they have a shoe dance where the bride dances around the dance floor, dancing with wedding guests who fill her wedding shoe with dollar bills. Alternately, the wedding shoe can be substituted with a white drawstring handbag that is filled with money. Of course, in Canada, we no longer have one or two dollar bills, so it is often $5 notes that are offered, as loonies and toonies are heavy and noisy to carry around all night!