When Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, William still retained his rights as a potential heir to the throne — but if Kate were Catholic, that might not be the case, thanks to some bizarre international marriage laws!
The English Law of Settlement, established in the 18th century to secure Protestant succession to the throne, declares that potential heirs lose their right to the throne if they marry a Catholic — but members of any other faith are OK!
Although the law is out of date by our current standards, it has yet to be revised.
The laws and requirements that applied to Wills and Kate’s nuptials got us thinking about other international wedding laws and traditions that exist. From Italy to India, we found some interesting, odd and inspiring marriage requirements and customs around the world.
Marriage Laws in the UK
Another UK marriage law maintains that people must be married in a “fixed structure” with a roof — so no garden weddings under open skies. Will and Kate walked down the aisle at Westminster Abbey, so they certainly weren’t in danger of violating this law.
Food & Marriage in Japan
While couples all over the world usually put lots of thought into the food that will be served at their wedding, the Japanese have a unique take on food-related customs!
In traditional Japanese wedding banquets, each dish represents a symbolic wish for the newlywed couple, such as happiness, long life or many children. Kombu (kelp) is a popular choice, since yorokobu means “joy” in Japanese.
Pre-Wedding Traditions in Germany
In some areas of Germany, one wedding tradition involves kidnapping the bride! Friends steal her away, usually taking her to a local bar or other public venue, leaving the groom to go hunting for his future wife.
During the quest for his bride, the groom usually ends up going from one biergarten to the next. Depending on the local tradition, he may even be expected to buy a round of drinks for the people in each bar that he passes through!
Marriage Rituals in India
A traditional Hindu marriage in India is likely to include the bride and groom’s taking the ritual saptapadi, or seven steps, in front of a sacred fire or light, while reciting a given mantra, which can vary depending on the region.
Another common element is the application of sindoor or vermillion, a red or orange powder that traditionally represents a woman’s married status, to the part in the bride’s hair.
US Marriage Laws
Arkansas had a little legal oversight in its marriage regulations when it established a law declaring that anyone under 18 could get married in the state without parental consent — but forgot to establish a minimum age requirement.
This little loophole meant that technically a toddler could get legally married — if he or she so chose to — but only for a few months from 2007 to 2008, before the state corrected its mistake and instituted a minimum age requirement!
In addition, many US states used to allow common-law marriage, but roommates and friends began taking advantage of the lax laws to get tax breaks. Now only a handful of US states allow common-law marriage — and there are more requirements than just sharing a roof.
Wedding Customs in Italy
One fun tradition maintained in many parts of Italy is the smashing of a vase or glass. Every shard that results from the big smash represents one year of marital bliss to be shared by the newlyweds. Better get an extra big vase and smash it hard to avoid dampening wedding day spirits!
No matter which country or even which state or region you may be in, there are almost certainly unique rules and rituals that apply to your nuptials. This is certainly something to consider if you’re thinking about getting married abroad!
Reading about international marriage laws and traditions is a reminder that a wedding is more than just a family event — it’s a legal ceremony that is subject to plenty of regulations!