Stealing the groom’s shoes

My informant is from Bangladesh and goes to school in Los Angeles. He is studying mechanical engineering in school. His sister got married last summer (he husband was also from Bangladesh) so I asked him about any wedding traditions. He told me about two, but they are related so I put them in one entry. The first is a tradition where someone from the bride’s side steals the grooms shoes during the ceremony and the groom must back whoever stole them a sum of money. The second is that the groom’s side of the family must pay the bride’s side at the door to get into the wedding reception, which is hosted by the bride’s family. It is sort of a joke and fun tradition.

Rebecca: Okay, so can you tell me about weddings?

I: Weddings, okay well my sister got married this past summer. So from personal experience, one of the customs is that someone from the bride’s family tries to steal the groom’s shoes. The idea is that you’ll steal them and eventually sell them back to the groom and make a prophet because the groom is going to want his shoes back, because they are his wedding shoes.

Rebecca: Like the ones that he is wearing?

I: The ones that he’s wearing, off his feet.

Rebecca: So when? After the wedding or before

I: During. At some point. Because customarily the groom is sitting for a large part of the wedding. So if you can creep in there under the table or something, or have people hold him down while you steal his shoes, that’s the thing. So my brother successfully stole his shoes. Its on video.

R: Your brother stole your brother in laws shoes, during the wedding? How did he do it? Like when?

I: He literally ran up and swiped them off his feet.

R: just like during the ceremony?

I: yeah, because you have to remember that they are kind of like Aladdain shoes, they are not tied on, and he sold them back for a large amount of money

R: And how do people react? Do they think that’s funny?

I: And everyone laughed. You don’t have to do it, its just a customary thing. Similarly, at the beginning of the wedding, the girl’s family, who’s throwing the wedding. The wedding reception is from the girl’s side. They bar the husband from entering, until they pay a large sum. At the gate. It is literally this large heckling battle between the groom’s side and the bride’s side. Where its like, “you can’t come in with all your guests until you pay.” It’s a total joke. Often they hand over like a suitcase full of money, which has like monopoly money you know inside. Its just fun and games.

R: So then after his shoes were stolen, he had to buy them back later. After the wedding or way later?

I: You talk about it after the wedding. Like my brother got a few hundred bucks

R: seriously?  So can anyone steal them? Or do you choose someone to do it beforehand?

I: Anyone on the bride’s side. Its anyone who is capable of doing it.

R: does this mean anything to you?

I: To me it shows that even at your wedding you are already having a good time with the other family.

My informant enjoys this tradition because it is pretty funny and amusing to watch. I think that this practice is important for weddings because it may help bring the two families closer together, if the bride’s side must steal the groom’s shoes. Also, the paying of money to enter the wedding reception is another way of bringing the families together. It seems that because more modern weddings do not require real money to enter the reception, the tradition has taken on more of a joking or playful side. The person who successfully stole the shoes was able to actually make money in this case. Additionally, I found this story very interesting because another one of my informants from Russia told me about a wedding tradition in which the bride’s show is stolen. (See my other entry for that story). I have also found through my collections a common theme of the different sides of the family paying each other, or stealing things from each other. These themes were seen both in this collection and my Russian wedding collections.