20 Top Wedding Traditions Explained

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Everyone knows there are many wedding traditions that people choose to follow but do you know where these traditions originate from?

Here are our 20 top wedding traditions explained:

1.    It’s called your ‘Ring Finger’ for a reason. It is believed that you wear your wedding ring on your fourth finger on your left hand because it is the only finger that has a vein that leads directly to your heart.
2.    A bridal shower originates from Holland. A legend once said that a bride’s father did not approve of her new husband and refused dowry. The bride’s friends would shower her with gifts so she would have the necessary dowry to marry the man of her choice.

Dowry: an amount of property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage.

3.    The Bachelor party or ‘Stag Do’ as it is now called, was once referred to as the ‘Bachelor Dinner’. This came about during the Roman times when men would gather for a feast and toast their comrade. After the feast they would sometimes go and kidnap the bride!
4.    It was in 1840 that Queen Victoria started the white wedding dress tradition. Before this brides would simply wear their best dress.
5.    The wearing of a veil became a tradition because Ancient Greeks and Romans believed it would protect the bride from evil spirits. A veil also symbolises a bride’s virginity, modesty and purity. In Roman times a veil used to cover the bride from head to toe.
6.    Everyone knows that it is tradition for a bride to wear ‘Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue’. This saying originates from an old English rhyme. Something old symbolises continuity, something new symbolises optimism for the future, something borrowed symbolises borrowed happiness and something blue symbolises purity, love and fidelity.
7.    The tradition of matching bridesmaid dresses dates back to Roman times. People believed evil spirts would attend the wedding to curse the bride and groom. Bridesmaids would wear a dress like the bride’s to confuse the spirts and bring luck to the happy couple.
8.    Groomsmen come from a more primitive time when men used to kidnap their brides. Bachelors would seek out and capture a bride from a neighbouring village when there was a short supply. Groomsmen would help their friend capture his bride. They would act like a small army and fight off the bride’s angry family. Ushers and the Best man would stand guard at the ceremony to protect the groom from the bride’s family. Also, like bridesmaids, groomsmen will dress similar to the groom to confuse evil spirts.
9.    The old tradition of not seeing the bride before the wedding comes from the days where the bride’s father would sell his daughter to the groom. The bride is kept away from the groom so that the groom could not run away if he did not like the look of his bride. Some say it’s unlucky for the groom to see the bride before the wedding however seeing each other before the ceremony won’t bring you bad luck.
10.    The tradition of the bride’s father giving his daughter away symbolises him transferring ownership of his daughter over to her new husband. Guests act as a witness to this contract being made. Now days, the ‘giving away’ has more meaning as the father gives his daughter away to the man who will love and protect her as he did.
11.    Traditionally, when the bride walks down the aisle, once at the altar, the groom will stand on the right. It used to be very common for people to object to the marriage. If anyone was to object, the groom stood on the right so that he could easily push his bride aside with his left hand and draw his sword with his right.
12.    The phrase “Tying the Knot” comes from cultures all around the world like Celtic, Hindu and Egyptians. In these cultures, the bride and grooms hands were literally tied together to demonstrate their commitment and new bond.
13.    ‘You may now kiss the bride’. Originally a couple’s first kiss would be on their wedding day. It was expected of the couple to have not kissed before the wedding to remain pure. In Roman times, their kiss would be a legal bond that connects them.
14.    People used to throw rice over the newly wed after the ceremony. They believe the rice would help the couple to have children and bring fertility. In the Middle Ages wheat replaced rice. The wheat would symbolise fertility and fruitfulness and would keep the evil spirits away.
15.    The bride’s bouquet was traditionally from the Ancient times. The bride would carry an aromatic bunch of garlic, herbs and spices to ward off the evil spirits. Each herb and spice would carry a specific meaning. For example, sage means wisdom, garlic means protection, strength and healing, lavender means housewifely virtue and acknowledgement and rosemary means remembrance, love, loyalty and fidelity. As time went on flowers began to replace the herbs and spices but the symbolism carried on. For example, orange blossoms show happiness and fertility, ivy shows fidelity, patience and eternal life/love, lilies show purity and roses show love and victory.
16.    The throwing of the bouquet is said to bring luck to whoever catches it. Before brides carried a bouquet, it was considered good luck to tear off a piece of the bride’s dress. Guest would often chase the bride to get a piece of her dress to bring them luck. As the bride’s dress got fancier and more expensive, the bride did not want her dress being torn. This is when the tradition of a garter and bouquet being thrown started. Whoever caught the bouquet was to be married next.
17.    The tradition of having a wedding cake originates for Ancient Rome. Guests used to break a loaf of bread over the brides head. This was thought to bring them fertility luck. Now it is tradition for the married couple to keep the top tier of their wedding cake for their first born child’s christening.
18.    The groom traditionally carries the bride over the threshold the first time they enter their marital home as a married couple. This is to protect the bride from any evil spirits lurking below.
19.    Honeymoons weren’t always luxurious. Ancient Norse couples used to go into hiding after the wedding. A family member would bring them a glass of honey wine for the 30 days they were in hiding. 30 days is the same amount of time as one moon. This is where the term honeymoon originated.
20.    June weddings are becoming more popular; however this is not a new thing. Back in Roman times, couples would often get married in June as the Roman Goddess ‘Juno’ rules marriage and childbirth creating. They believe that getting married in June was lucky.

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