Wedding Traditions


Wedding bouquets were originally made of strong herbs such as thyme and garlic, which were meant to frighten away evil spirits, and to cover the stench emitting from people who had not bathed recently! 

The Wedding Dress

Most brides today marry in white, which symbolizes maidenhood.  This tradition was started by the rich in sixteenth century. The tradition was given a boost by Queen Victoria who chose to marry in white instead of silver which was the traditional color of Royal brides. Before the white dress, brides wore their best dress.  The color was a matter of preference.

Wedding Traditions

Tossing Rice

Believing that newlyweds brought good luck, guests used to shower them with nuts and grains to ensure a bountiful harvest, and many children to work the land.  During years of a poor harvest, rice was tossed instead.  This tradition continues today with rice or birdseed (where permitted), or bubbles to wish the Bride and Groom much happiness.  Incidentally, it is not true that birds eating rice thrown after a wedding ceremony will cause their stomachs to enlarge and eventually explode.  This myth may have simply evolved from church and synagogue employees weary from cleaning up after every wedding ceremony!

The Wedding Toast

It is said that this tradition first began in France, where bread would be placed in the bottom of two drinking glasses for the newlyweds.  They would then drink as fast as they could to be the first person to get to the toast.  According to legend, the winner would rule their household!

Wedding Traditions


is Italian for sweets which in Italy is thrown over the couple as they emerge from the Church in that same way we use paper confetti. Raisins and nuts may also be used. Before the use of paper confetti the married couple was showered with flowers, petals, rice or grains. This was to bestow prosperity and fertility on the couple.

Bridal Shower

Back in the days when weddings were arranged by family members, it is said that a poor Dutchman fell in love with a girl whose father refused her a dowry.  Their friends showered her with enough gifts to help them start a household. According to another story, the first "Bridal Shower" occurred at the end of the 19th century. At a party, the Bride's friends placed small gifts inside a parasol and opened it over the Bride's head. When she opened the parasol, she was "showered" with presents!

Wedding Traditions

Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold

stems from the same belief that aroused the idea of runway carpet and strewing the aisle with flowers and petals.  It was an ancient belief that the newly married couple was very susceptible to evil spirits.  By carrying the bride and supplying a protective layer between the floor and bride, she would be protected from the ground monster. Another source of this custom says that when a Groom used to steal his Bride from her tribe, he was forced to carry her kicking and screaming. This act of thievery has evolved into a more romantic gesture,  welcoming the Bride into her new home.

The Kiss

that seals the wedding is much more than a sign of affection. It has long been a token of bonding - the exchange of spirits as each partner sends a part of the self into the new spouse's soul, there to abide ever after.

Wedding Traditions

The Ring

According to some historians, the first recorded marriage rings date back to the days when early man tied plaited circlets around the Bride's wrists and ankles to keep her spirit from running away.  Approximately 3,000 BC, Egyptians originated the phrase "without beginning, without end" in describing the significance of the wedding ring.  These rings were made of woven hemp which constantly wore out and needed replacement.  Although Romans originally used iron, gold is now used as a symbol of all that is pure.  Diamonds were first used by Italians, who believed that it was created from the flames of love.  In some European cultures, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.  In other cultures, an engagement ring is worn on the left hand, and the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. And if you've ever groaned at having to buy both an engagement ring and a wedding ring, you can blame Pope Innocent III, who instituted a waiting period between engagement and marriage in the 13th century and also insisted that a ring be used in the wedding ceremony. Before that, rings were used to seal an engagement only (as well as other important agreements).

Wedding Traditions


Some people choose the flowers at the wedding on the basis of their symbolic meaning.  For example, orange blossom has always been associated with weddings because it signifies purity and chastity.

Peonies are avoided by some as they represent shame; azaleas represent temperance: roses symbolize love and snowdrops represent hope.

A combination of red and white flowers is avoided by the superstitious because they stand for blood and bandages.

However, people from different regions may attach other meanings to the same flower.  For example, lilies symbolize majesty to some but are thought unlucky by others because of their association with death.

The groom often chooses a flower for his buttonhole which also occurs in the bride's bouquet.  This is a vestige of the time when a Knight would wear his Lady's colors to display his love.

Wedding Traditions

Bouquet/Garter Toss

In ancient times, it was believed that a Bride was especially lucky on her wedding day.  Guests would sometimes tear at her dress for a souvenir piece of good luck to take home.  The Bride's tossing of her bouquet grew from her desire to offer a good luck souvenir, and prevent guests from bothering her  (and her dress!) during her reception.  This tradition began in France when pieces of the bridal attire were considered lucky. The bride would throw the garter to the guests at the wedding and whoever caught it could expect good luck.  Today the practice of tossing the bouquet is an offshoot of throwing the garter. The single woman who catches the bouquet is believed to be the next to marry.

Why Does the Bride Stand on the Left?

The early Anglo-Saxon groom often had to defend his bride from would-be kidnappers so the bride stood to his left leaving his sword-arm free.

Wedding Traditions

Something Old, Something New, Something...

This superstition of the Bride wearing something that fits each of these four categories originated in Europe to ward off evil spirits.  “Something Old” symbolized the sense of continuity while making the transition from a single person to that of a married couple.  It was usually a personal gift from mother to daughter, a symbolic piece of wisdom for married life. "Something new" symbolized the new family formed by the couple.  "Borrowing" is especially important, since it is to come from a happily married woman, thereby lending the bride some of her own marital bliss to carry into the new union.  "Blue" has two traditions: Pagan Roman maidens wore blue on the borders of their robes to denote love, modesty and fidelity, while Christians associate it with the purity of the Virgin Mary.  In ancient Israel , blue was the border color of the Bride's dress, symbolizing purity, constancy and fidelity.

The Best Man

A best man around A.D. 200 carried more than a ring. The best man stayed by the groom's side to protect against the threat of the bride's family attempting to forcibly gain her return and to fight off other men who would steal her away.

Wedding Traditions

The Bridal Veil

is a descendant from two sources.  A woman's face that was covered by a veil meant that she was spoken for.  A veil was used to disguise the bride so that she would not be recognized by the evil spirits wishing to harm the vulnerable bridal couple.  When marriages were arranged by family members, the newlyweds very rarely were allowed to see one another.  Family members exchanging a dowry were afraid that if the Groom didn't like the appearance of the Bride's face, he might refuse to marry her.  This is why the Father of the Bride "gave the Bride away" to the Groom at the actual wedding ceremony. Only after lifting her veil just prior to the ceremony did the Groom see the Bride's face for the first time!  Early Greek and Roman Brides wore red or yellow veils to represent fire, and to ward off demons.  It was thought that it would disguise the bride and therefore outwit malevolent spirits.  The veil became popular in Britain in the eighteen hundreds.  In this country it is associated with modesty and chastity.  

Wedding Traditions

Choosing the Day

Although most weddings are held on Saturdays it was considered unlucky in the past. Fridays were also considered unlucky, particularly Friday the 13th.  This famous old rhyme advises a wedding in the first half of the week:

Monday for wealth
Tuesday for health
Wednesday the best day of all
Thursday for losses
Friday for crosses
Saturday for no luck at all

Ever wonder why June is the most popular time of year for weddings?

The summer month of June was considered a lucky month to marry in because it is named after Juno, the Roman goddess of love and marriage and the sun's association with ferility.  In Scotland one popular custom was for the bride to "walk with the sun" to bring her good luck.  She would walk from east to west on the south side of the church and then walk around the church three times.














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