Australia comprises of a multitude of different ethnic and religious groups, which between them create a plethora of interesting and colourful wedding customs.
For example, Australian weddings sometimes include the bride and groom linking ribbon coronets (Greek), stamping on a drinking glass (Jewish), the groom arriving at the wedding on horseback (Indian), and sugared almonds favours (Greek, Italian and many other European countries).
Who sits where?
Most Aussie weddings and receptions are not formal occasions – many receptions are held at local parks, at the beach or in family gardens. This delightful casual spirit means that often there is no requirement for a seating plan at all.
If a more formal sit down meal is offered, the seating plan is widely similar to that of the familiar Western top table plan. Usually, the table closest to the main bridal table is for the bridal couple’s parents, the officiant and his or her spouse. The actual bridal table is for the bride, groom, maid of honour, bridesmaids, best man and groomsmen. This is the same head table arrangement that’s used in the USA.
Decorating the venue
Native Australian flowers such as banksias, bottle brush, warratah and eucalyptus are often used as decoration for the reception venue. The state flower for Queensland is the Cooktown Orchid, a beautiful flower perfect for a wedding reception venue. Other couples may opt for a more historical Australian pioneer style, decorating their venue with hay bales and wattle on the walls.
Favours at an Australian wedding are typically a ‘Lamington’ cake. This is a square sponge cake, coated in chocolate icing topped with desiccated coconut. They are often served sandwiched with a layer of cream and/or strawberry jam in between them. Many couple choose this Australian delicacy as their wedding cake.
Australia’s indigenous people are respected as the world’s most ancient living culture. Aboriginal Australia is a remarkable living legacy spanning at least 50,000 years of history and tradition, resulting in a spiritual knowledge and understanding of land, culture, people that’s second to none. An Aboriginal wedding feast would include fried bread, venison, squash, beans, corn, potato soup and many desserts including fresh fruits such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries (known romantically as the ‘heart’ berry). In a traditional wedding, the food is placed on a blanket and served buffet style. Aboringal blessings are offered for the food.
It is important to note the order of eating – the elders and the officiant will eat first, then the bride, groom, sponsors and other guests. None of the food is wasted – any uneaten food is given away to the Elders.
A gift will be given, by the bride and groom, to each person attending the celebration in recognition of their part in the happy couple’s marriage.
Modern couples wishing to incorporate Aboriginal traditions into their Australian wedding may choose to marry near to the spectacular Ayer’s rock (Uluru to the Aboriginal people). Incorporating aspects of this immense Aboriginal tradition into a wedding would, for many modern couples, bring a wise and profound touch to the modern day glitz and glamour of a wedding day.
“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”
(Australian Aboriginal proverb)