Foreign Marriage Culture

Learn about foreign marriage culture before tying the knot with your future foreign wife.

Foreign marriage is a worldwide phenomenon — more so than ever before. In modern courtship, men find a foreign wife through online dating apps, matchmaking sites, and overseas travel.

Because it is much easier to connect with people from all over the world, foreign marriages are on the rise. But foreign relationships naturally come with differences in culture. So if you are interested in marrying a foreign woman, you may want to know how marriage is viewed and practiced in her country.

Marriage culture refers to the rituals and traditions a couple follows, from the engagement all the way to the actual wedding. Foreign marriages consisting of couples with diverse cultural backgrounds can be quite different from the norm.

These marriage customs and traditions may differ slightly from country to country. But they’re still completely valid if they fit with the beliefs, values, and norms that signify the cultural identity of the person you want to marry.

The U.N. world marriage data shows that Asian countries have the most foreign marriages because many people from all over the world travel to these nations and eventually meet their future spouses. The Philippines, China, Thailand, Russia, and Ukraine make up approximately 71 percent of all foreign marriages worldwide.

Asian countries, as travel hotspots, show increased economic prosperity and have become popular hubs for international marriage. Many Asian countries have fast-growing economies, leading to an influx of expats, investors, and travelers.

A myriad of factors shapes customs and culture. Trends such as Westerners marrying Easterners and immigration leading to multicultural families are becoming prevalent.

Other cultural values that favor foreign over domestic marriage also influence such an interesting phenomenon. Thus, foreign marriage is part of the inevitable changes of progressive contemporary times.

Wedding Traditions and Customs

  • Eastern vs. Western

Wedding traditions and customs vary depending on your country’s cultural beliefs, unique rituals, and personal preferences. But despite such diversity, many wedding traditions are universally shared among different cultures.

Weddings in certain countries are elaborate affairs, while others are simple and informal. Some weddings feature traditional ceremonies, whereas others involve a modern twist.

Many countries have wedding practices that aren’t apparent unless you understand what they mean and where they come from. It is when you learn about why these practices exist that you gain an appreciation for them.

A prime example is a Philippine wedding that begins with the pamamanhikan stage. The groom formally asks for a woman’s hand in marriage from her family and negotiates dowries. This process is crucial, especially for arranged marriages that are still practiced by the Muslim population today.

As the bride wears a Filipiniana and the groom wears a Barong Tagalog, the couple follows the Catholic marriage process (e.g., veil, coin, unity candle ceremonies, etc.) conducted by a parish priest. In a family-oriented culture, the extended families, including the ninongs and ninangs (godparents or sponsors), participate in the marital rites.

Once the couple steps out of the church, guests shower them with rice grains to wish them prosperity and happiness. Of course, a Filipino wedding always ends in a reception celebrated with close loved ones and friends — including exotic Filipino cuisines (handaan), a traditional money dance for the couple’s good fortune, and emotional speeches.

In comparison, western marriages take a more liberal approach and are open to modern rituals (e.g., bachelorette parties, outdoor weddings, gift-giving, etc.).

For instance, a bachelorette party honors the upcoming marriage of a soon-to-be-wed couple months or days before a classic American wedding. On the wedding day, couples may choose an outdoor venue — even if they’re Catholic, and the legal marriage officiant can be a clergy member or a public official.

There’s a varied dress code — the wedding dresses of American brides come in various styles and colors. But they typically opt for a white dress and sometimes wear a veil or headscarf.

Grooms wear suits, tuxedos, or sports jackets. For special occasions, they wear a bowtie and sometimes wear a vest over their suit jackets.

At the start of an American wedding ceremony, the party walks down the aisle in a processional. A ring bearer’s pillow signifies the promised dreams of the lovers that a small child delivers to the couple.

Then, both wear a diamond engagement ring (a symbol of fiery love) and exchange wedding vows. There are many ring variations, including engagement, betrothal, eternity, etc.

Similar to a Filipino wedding, the guests give the newlyweds a grand exit by throwing rice, a practice that dates back to ancient Romans throwing wheat grains as a sign of fertility.

The first dance highlights the newly-wed couple on the dance floor during the pre-wedding. It’s followed by cutting a 3-tier wedding cake, bouquet tossing, congratulatory toasts, and gift-giving that typically contains money.

Thus, both Eastern vs. Western marriage practices have similarities aside from unique cultural differences.

Suppose you decide to look overseas for your ideal mate, you should consider the customs and traditions surrounding weddings where you choose to settle down.

How to Have a Mutually Inclusive Marriage Practice

Marriage is a permanent institution between a man and a woman. But marriage between multicultural couples entails challenges, including language barriers.

One partner may be afraid to change their ways and become open-minded enough to find common ground. The other partner may feel uncomfortable interacting with people outside their home country.

To find true fulfillment as a married couple, both partners must work together to overcome all obstacles and create a harmonious union. The goal is to find ways to communicate and work towards a mutually satisfying relationship.

Cross-cultural unions are more susceptible to stress because of frustrations that result from cultural expectations not being realized. The key to growth is creating a shared identity.

A more robust and happier marriage is the fruit of intimacy between the husband and wife fostered through equal collaboration.

Here are three tips for maintaining a mutual and equal marriage with your foreign wife:

  • Keep an open mind.

    As mentioned above, you may face unfamiliar customs, traditions, and expectations once you start living together. So, accept those differences gracefully and adapt to them accordingly.

  • Be respectful.

    Just because her foreign culture has a different tradition doesn’t necessarily mean you have to adopt it. However, mutual respect is vital for a successful marriage. Avoid insulting or demeaning her culture’s values and beliefs.

  • Be patient.

    Since finding love abroad doesn’t happen overnight, adjusting to a foreign marriage also takes time. You’ll need to allot a period of understanding the intricate ways of your multicultural household.

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