What are the roles at weddings

Wedding customs in Austria part 1

Part 1 of the mini series

Spring is approaching and with it the detailed planning of the wedding day. With my new mini-series I would like to take you into the world of wedding customs. Customs don't have to be old and boring. It can also give a modern, urban wedding that certain touch.

Wedding customs have existed since marriage began. And that's been a long time. These traditions have changed over time. Some have completely disappeared, others have held up to this day. In my opinion, this is a good sign. When customs are modernized and adapted to the present day, it means that tradition is still valued.

The meaning and origin of the various wedding customs varies greatly. Some are supposed to keep evil away, others are supposed to conjure up love, happiness, health or fertility. It can no longer be traced back to every wedding custom where it comes from and what meaning it had. Even nowadays, the purpose is often no longer in keeping with the times. Nevertheless, these customs simply belong to Austria.

Personally, I am a big fan of customs. To a large extent it reflects part of our identity. And customs don't always have to be dusty and just go with a rural wedding. Many of them can be wonderfully integrated into a modern wedding and reinterpreted. Especially when you have guests from abroad, a custom can be a wonderful insight into Austrian culture.

Many old customs still exist in Austria. These are mostly very regional and therefore often only known in the respective area. Some have prevailed across the country and I would like to introduce the most famous of them to you.

Part 1 of my series starts with the wedding customs that take place before marriage.


1. The different roles: What are their tasks or what is it anyway?

Bride Parents
The bride's parents traditionally play a relatively important role in Austria. For the mother of the bride, a wedding begins long before the actual celebration. She supports her daughter in choosing a wedding dress, floral decorations and hairstyle. In Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Styria, she is also the hostess at the wedding ceremony on the wedding day. The bride's father is the one who traditionally leads his daughter to the altar, gives the dinner speech and is allowed to celebrate the first dance after the official first dance of the bride and groom with the bride.

The groomsmen play one of the most important roles in a wedding. With their signature they attest to the legality of the marriage (no longer necessary for civil service purposes). Ideally, they are also a reliable contact for the bride and groom in terms of the preparations for the celebration. However, the tasks of the witnesses are very different depending on the region in Austria.

Extra bride / extra groom
Especially in Upper Austria, Carinthia, Tyrol and Styria you can use the term `` zuraut ''. The title "Zubraut" applies to the first and therefore most important bridesmaid. With this, she not only receives a responsible task from the bride, but also has a big appearance at the wedding. The same goes for its male counterpart. In some areas in Austria, the groom leads the bride and the bride leads the groom. They both have another important task: if the bride is stolen, the groom has to release her. If the groom is stolen, the bride has to pay for the drinks.

In Styria and Carinthia, the witnesses are also referred to as assistants. They also have the same tasks. In Upper Austria, on the other hand, the mothers or fathers of the bride and groom are referred to as supporters if they are also witnesses.

Bridesmaids / Kranzlbräute
The bridesmaids are called Kranzlbräute in Austria. And this has possibly been around much longer than the American counterpart. Even Empress Elisabeth had a crowd of Kranzlbrides at her wedding. On the one hand, it should serve to ensure that none of the ladies at court were offended. On the other hand, according to the superstition, the Kranzlbrides were used to distract evil spirits from the bride (what or who is now defined as an "evil spirit" is left open here;))

2. Bridal bushes

Bridal bushes are now available in almost every imaginable form and type. However, they all have the same meaning: They should represent the guests as a closed group and decorate them festively. Usually they are handed out by the bridesmaids in front of the church entrance and attached to the lapel. According to the custom, unmarried wedding guests wear the Büscherl on the left. Married guests wear their bridal bundle on the right. The groom's Büscherl is much larger and more festive than that of the guests.

3. Bride waking and wedding shooting

Traditionally in Salzkammergut, Tyrol and Styria, a bride has to get out of bed early on the wedding day. At sunrise, neighbors and friends come to rudely wake the bride from her sleep. The bride is "greeted" with gunshots (by shooters, of course) or firecrackers. In addition, the noise is said to drive away evil spirits. Whereas in the past it was the single men who woke the bride up, today it is mixed groups. Nowadays, however, the residents and the community should be informed about the project.

4. Wedding brass

Especially in the Hausruckviertel, the wedding brass with their cheerful music is still indispensable. They loudly announce and accompany every program item of the wedding celebration. With suitable songs from the "bride song" when fetching the bride in the morning to the "bouncer" at the end of the festivities, you will accompany the wedding party throughout the day.

5. Pick up the bride

This custom extends to almost all federal states of Austria. The bride will be picked up from her parents' home on the day of the wedding. Today the custom has changed to the effect that usually the groom with his wreath grooms picks up his future wife from home. He already drives up with the decorated wedding car and traditionally also has the bridal bouquet with him. Together with the bride it goes to the registry office or church. In many areas of Austria, this path does not usually lead directly to the goal. Friends and neighbors are waiting on the route to block the way for the bride and groom. The bride and groom have to stop, get out and solve a given task. This includes, for example, sawing through a branch with a saw. Then the bride and groom will be toasted. Only then can the journey be continued.


Next Thursday, part 2 of my mini-series on the subject of wedding customs will continue here:
Customs on the day of the wedding!


Sincerely, yours