Put the World on Your Plate With These Wedding Food Traditions

Add these dishes to your menu ASAP.
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Nov 14, 2023

The world is full of beautiful, sentimental and culturally significant wedding rituals. From wearing something blue to doing the money dance, there are numerous ways to honor one's heritage or appreciate someone else's. But we think wedding food traditions take celebrations to another level because they not only fill your guests' stomaches but they give them a deeper understanding of you and your partner. To help you discover more about yourself and the world, we made a list of some of our favorite sweet and savory foods offered at traditional weddings. WARNING: Your stomach will be growling by the end of this article.

Cultural Wedding Food Traditions to Know:

Brazilian | Chinese | French | German | Greek | Indian | Italian | Jamaican | Jewish | Korean | Lebanese | Mexican | Russian | Spanish | West African

Brazilian Wedding Food Traditions

Brazilian weddings are all about having an abundance of delicious and hearty foods. Feijoada, pronounced [fey-jwah-ah-dah], is a staple at these affairs. It's a black bean and pork stew that serves as the national dish of Brazil and is a hunger satisfier for wedding guests.

Chinese Wedding Food Traditions

Lots of traditional Chinese wedding food has symbolic meaning attached. One of the star dishes at these nuptial feasts is Peking duck, pronounced [Pee-king duhk]. This roasted game has a crispy lacquered exterior that's served whole to symbolize marital peace and completeness and represents fidelity since ducks are known to be lifetime mates. Pancakes, cucumbers, leeks and more are common additions to this savory dish.

French Wedding Food Traditions

A French wedding isn't complete without a croquembouche cake, pronounced [crow-cuhm-boosh]. This sweet is a tower of pastry puffs usually filled with vanilla cream and "glued" together with caramelized sugar. Our favorite part about this French wedding tradition food is that it's typically brought out during the reception along with sparklers and upbeat music—talk about drama.

Photo: Bernd Juergens | Shutterstock

German Wedding Food Traditions

Hochzeitssuppe, pronouced [ho-cheh-zup-eh], is a traditional German wedding food that translates to "wedding soup." The traditional starter dish has chicken broth, noodles, vegetables, chicken and small meatballs. Hochzeitssuppe is normally eaten in Northern Germany and Southern Germany by the to-be-weds and guests after the ceremony.

Greek Wedding Food Traditions

If you're at a Greek wedding, don't be surprised when you find baklava on the dessert table. The pastry, pronounced [baa-kluh-vaa], is made of about 10 to 11 thin layers of dough and is typically filled with chopped walnuts or pistachios and sweetened with honey. In the past, the confection's ingredients were costly and took so much skill it was reserved for celebratory events. (Psst. Greeks also have a connection to the Jordan almond wedding tradition—more on that below.)

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Indian Wedding Food Traditions

Every Indian wedding worth its salt has Gulab Jamun, pronounced [goo-laab ja-muhn]. These small delights are fried dough balls that are soaked in sweet rose water syrup. The treat gets its name from the Persian words "gol" and "ab," which roughly translates to "flower water," while "Jamun" is a Hindi-Urdu word for an Indian black plum, which the dessert has the same shape and size as.

Gulab Jamun
Photo: Najib Habib | Shutterstock

Italian Wedding Food Traditions

Jordan almonds are sugar-coated almond candies and are also known as sugared almonds, dragées or confetti. At traditional Italian weddings, five almonds represent the five wishes for the couple: health, wealth, happiness, fertility and longevity. These almonds are put into decorative boxes or tulle bags called bombonieres, a fragrant party favor given on special occasions. At traditional Greek weddings, Jordan almonds are called Koufeta. Similar to the Italians, the almonds are in little bags, but the Greeks put them in odd numbers and serve them on a silver tray. The odd numbers symbolize the newlyweds sharing everything and being undivided.

Jamaican Wedding Food Traditions

Traditional Jamaican wedding food always includes goat curry, also known as curried goat, for dinner. The recipe is a staple in Jamaica, which is why it's at every celebratory event. This tradition isn't practiced much now, but in the past, the happy couple would go to a farm to pick a goat for the wedding. The goat would then be slow-cooked, typically by family, for hours in preparation for the reception.

Jewish Wedding Food Traditions

It's common to find sütlaç, pronounced [soot-lach], at Jewish weddings because it represents having a rich and sweet life. Sütlaç (also written as sutlac and sutlach) is a rice pudding made with coconut milk, honey and almonds, with some variations having vanilla, raisins and cinnamon. The confection has a Turkish origin with possible Ottoman Empire connections and is traditionally flavored with rose water in some communities.

Photo: bugra tombak | Shutterstock

Korean Wedding Food Traditions

Korean traditional wedding food means Kook soo sang is on the menu, which means noodle banquet. The reason why noodles are at every Korean wedding is because they represent a long and happy marriage. The noodles are typically served with clear beef broth, shredded eggs and vegetables.

Lebanese Wedding Food Traditions

Traditional Lebanese wedding food is always about variety and involves a huge feast of multiple courses for wedding guests. Cold and hot mezze, pronounced [meh-zay] and also written as mezza, is served at weddings. Some small plates included are hummus, falafel, baba ghanoush and kibbeh.

Mexican Wedding Food Traditions

Mexican wedding cookies are nutty, buttery treats rolled in powered sugar offered at, hence the name, Mexican weddings. But since the cookies look similar to little balls of snow, they are also popular during the holiday season. The reason why these sweets are at weddings is uncertain, but food historians believe in multiple origin stories. It's said the cookies were created by Arab bakers in the medieval era, brought in by European nuns to Mexico or introduced by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century to North America.

Photo: Pavel Kobysh | Shutterstock

Russian Wedding Food Traditions

Korovai, pronounced [koh-roh-vi], is a bread that's a traditional Russian wedding food at every reception. The wedding bread is a round pastry that symbolizes fertility, health and prosperity. It's decorated with flowers, stars, pigeons and more to represent well-wishes for the couple. This bread is also at Ukrainian weddings where family members from both sides of the couple help bake to signify the family becoming one.

Spanish Wedding Food Traditions

Churros con chocolate are tasty fried doughnut-like strips tossed in sugar and/or cinnamon served with a thick hot chocolate sauce as traditional Spanish wedding food. Sometimes they're filled with custard or chocolate cream. It's believed the sweet octagonal or hexagonal prisms were created in the 16th century and included the hot chocolate side after Spanish explorers learned about Aztec chocolate.

West African Wedding Food Traditions

Jollof rice, pronounced [jow-luhf rise], is one of the most popular foods served at celebratory West African events. The tomato-stew-based staple is usually made with red bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, spices and meat stock and is a main or side dish. The savory and rich dish is typically eaten with sweet plantains and protein but has numerous versions made by different West African communities. For example, Nigerian traditional wedding food involves "Party Jollof." It's cooked for huge affairs and weddings and has a smokey and semi-burnt taste.

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