Wedding bouquets were originally made of strong herbs such as thyme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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
Something Old, Something New, Something...
This superstition of the Bride wearing
something that fits each of these four categories originated in
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
, 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.
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
in the eighteen hundreds. In this country it is associated with
modesty and chastity.
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.
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
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