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Beyond the Grave: Wedding Ceremonies for the Dead

Beyond the Grave: Wedding Ceremonies for the Dead

Since ancient times, marriage has been considered one of the paramount stages of a person’s life.

It was thought of as a tragedy for men and women alike to be unmarried.

E if someone, especially a young person, were to die before eles had a chance to be married, their spirit was considered restless.

In fact, many cultures deem the most vicious and restless spirits those of young virgins.

They’re the angriest ghosts because they never got to experience love and marriage.

The Family Makes Sure Their Deceased Loved One Rests Peacefully

To the people who are seriously devoted to religion or spirituality, knowing that their loved one rests peacefully is very important.

The idea of a soul roaming aimlessly or being caught in some kind of limbo forever is quite frightening.

In some cultures around the world, people take it upon themselves to appease these souls.

You’ve likely watched movies that show a wronged spirit needing to make things right before they can go on.

Like you would light them a candle or see them off with all the honors, some cultures practice posthumous weddings for the same purpose.

There Are Two Main Variations in Posthumous Wedding Tradition

The morbid question is: Who’s dead?

One way a posthumous wedding may go is that a family may find someone living to marry their deceased loved one

The living bride or groom is to stay married to the deceased, with all the rules that apply to regular marriages, for some time.

Commonly, they’re not required to stay married like that forever.

The other way assumes that both the bride and the groom are dead.

In this case, two families come together to hold a wedding ceremony for the two souls to appease them both at once.

There Are a Few Cultures Which Practice Posthumous Marriage Today

Marriage in death is practiced in France, China, Korea e Sudan. It’s also practiced among Mormons e the Vlach people of Serbia and Romania.

Though the point of the ceremony remains the same, the way these cultures approach and execute a posthumous wedding is very different.

France: Romance Is Immortal

wedding decor door

Popular culture knows the French as primarily romantic people.

France is the rare place where it’s legally allowed to marry a dead person. However, there are rules.

You can’t pick someone at random and get married.

The living bride or groom must be able to prove that they were in fact engaged to the deceased they wish to marry.

Also, they need to get the blessing from the deceased’s family.

Thus, in case of a tragedy, they may proceed with their wedding. This way, they honor their loved one and the engagement.

Most recently, in 2009, Magali Jaskiewicz lost her fiance to tragic circumstances and was permitted to marry him posthumously.

It’s Often Wrongly Assumed People Do This For Money

Skeptics often suggest that a living person would go through with the postmortem wedding solely to get the money of the deceased.

However, French law predicted this as a possible issue.

Therefore, marrying a deceased person doesn’t grant you the right to their assets. 

An exception is made if the living bride is pregnant. Upon giving birth, the child has natural right to their father’s property.

Mormonism: Marriage In the Afterlife

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is known for its conservative ways.

Mormons place a very high value on marriage. Much like other Christian schools of thought, they consider marriage to be one of the holy secrets.

And while the rest of the world swears to stay married till death do us part, Mormons go beyond.

Their marriage ceremony is also called sealing, and they believe that once married, a couple is bound together for all eternity.

This view of marriage also led the church to allow posthumous weddings.

These weddings are allowed only if descendants of the deceased bride and groom initiate them.

The Mormon church also allows for posthumous baptisms.

Sudan: Posthumous Marriage on Paper

Posthumous marriage isn’t practiced all across Sudan. A particular ethnic group from the south of Sudan, Nuer, practices these weddings.

However, they do it quite differently.

 In case a man dies without any male heirs, his cousin or friend is to marry in his stead.

A living man then married a living woman, so what’s new there?

Well, any children they may have together are legally considered the offsprings of the deceased.

These weddings are used to maintain social order in Nuer society. The deceased man’s property and lineage are then secured by proxy.

The Vlachs: Black Wedding

The Vlachs are a minority in Serbia and Romania, and they commonly live in places near the borders between the two countries.

Among Vlachs, posthumous wedding ceremonies are held for young, tragically deceased men.

There are no mentions of the deceased brides related to this custom. It’s unclear whether it’s ever been held for them.

As recently as the year 2004, a young man drowned in a lake.

His grandmother claimed she had a dream of his wedding. She concluded that his spirit was restless and needed to be wed.

Procession of Grief

The guests and the groom’s family all wear black. Only the bride wears something akin to a wedding dress.

The entire procession walks from the groom’s family home to the graveyard. 

Musicians play music, but there is no singing. The family grieves and veils as the wedding proceeds.

Once they reach the groom’s gravestone, they dance a traditional circle dance of the Balkans – but, in the opposite direction.

All the time, they grieve their loss and cry.

Once the wedding is complete, the bride goes back home to her own family.

She’s required to stay faithful to the deceased for exactly one year, after which she is free to remarry and live as she likes.

China: Ghost Weddings Above the Law

China and South Korea have their countries’ prevalent spirituality in common among other things.

It’s known that the parents in these cultures, as well as families overall, are very included in the marriage of young people.

Matchmakers are still a thing over there. However, did you know they have matchmakers for the dead?

When a young unmarried person dies, the grieving family seeks a matchmaker to find another family that lost a loved one of similar age to arrange a wedding.

People have reportedly been haunted by nightmares of their deceased loved ones. This is often named as one of the reasons they seek to organize a posthumous wedding.

It’s then customary for the two that are married to be buried together.

There Have Been Extreme Cases

Especially in China, the male and female population is quite uneven. There are many more men than women due to certain old policies.

Desde it’s not possible to arrange a ghost marriage for all the deceased men, desperate families sometimes turn to crime.

Em 2013, several men were sent to prison for grave robbery.

They robbed the graves of 10 women to sell them as ghost brides.

Chinese law, however, prohibits any form of posthumous marriage ceremonies.

Despite that, the eerie custom still endures, specifically in the northern parts of China.