Known for its music and high culture, Austria is famous for its remarkable countryside and appreciation of the arts. Clean cities with pedestrian zones, outdoor cafes, deep woods, and great skiing, Austrians know how to enjoy nature and the finest things in life. Explore Austria’s wedding traditions and learn how you can incorporate them into your spectacular wedding.
It’s rumored that the tradition of diamond engagement rings started with the Archduke Maximilian of Austria when he gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 — thank you, Max. Also, the bride traditionally receives a morgen-Gabe (morning gift) from her husband.
Music, music, music, Austria is famous for it! Fittingly, merry fiddlers lead the wedding procession into the church. In many cultures, rain on a wedding day is considered good luck, but in Austria, stormy weather is thought to be a bad omen.
Der Hochzeitslader (the wedding director) is the most important person at the wedding party. He carries a beautiful stick wrapped in ribbon with a flower bouquet attached to the top, so everyone knows who he is. Responsible for the seating in church and for organizing the music and the dances for the traditional festivities afterward, this is an exhausting job because the whole village is invited and no one goes home before dark. A good wedding director will keep the party going at all times!
Brides may crown their veils with myrtle, the flower of life. The bride buys or makes the groom’s wedding shirt, which is put away after the ceremony. It is customary that when the groom passes away, he wears that same wedding shirt.
Married women dance around the bride in a circle. Soon after, groomsmen break the circle and playfully rob the bride of her crown, replacing it with a matron’s cap, symbolizing her newly married status.
Food, Drink & Toasts
Before stepping over the threshold, the newlyweds tie their hands together for good luck, then drink some food and wine, after which the groom tosses the glass over the roof for good luck.
Starting Life as Two
More fun ensues the day after the wedding when the bride goes to church for a blessing as her husband waits outside. As she comes out of the church, friends in masks pretend to capture her from her new husband as he defends her or pays a ransom. With the ransom, the friends and newlyweds spend the evening drinking, eating, and toasting at a tavern.
In Austria, the bride and groom also compete for the head of the household title. The first person to buy something after the ceremony wins. Many brides win by purchasing something small – such as a pin – from their bridesmaid.
Tips and Ideas for Incorporating Traditions Into Your Modern-Day Wedding
- Not so handy with a needle and thread but want to pay homage to the tradition of making your groom’s wedding shirt? Sketch out what you have in mind and find a local seamstress to make your vision a reality.
- Austrian wedding traditions are all about music and revelry, so whether you opt for fiddlers or a string quartet, make like the Austrians and whoop it up all night long!