A couple of years ago, we were required to research Wedding Traditions for our first ever wedding assignment at Polytech. Recently, I found the little book that I made, and had a good read about why we have certain traditions in Weddings today, even if the symblosym behind them is a thing of the past. I often see brides asking about why we do the things we do at modern weddings. So I thought I would share with you where our modern wedding traditions came from.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue.
This tradition started in England. Something old symbolised continuity; often a piece of lace, a grandmothers scarf, or and old piece of jewellery. Something new symbolised hope for the future, and could be anything from a new piece of clothing, to the wedding band itself. Something borrowed symbolised future happiness, and was often provided by a married friend of the bride. Something blue dates back to ancient times when blue was the colour of purity, and often both bride and groom wore a blue band around the bottom of their wedding attire.
The White Dress
Prior to the 16th Century, white gowns were uncommon. Many brides simply wore their best dress. It wasn't until 1499 that a white dress began to symbolise virginity and purity, and became part of the European Wedding Culture. Prior to that , blue was the colour that symbolised purity. In 1840, Queen Victoria wore white to marry Prince Albert, and cemented the trend of the white dress that we still see today.
It is unclear where the tradition of the veil orginated from, but there are several theories. One is that it is a relic of the days when the groom would capture a woman of his choosing, throw a blanket over her head, and cart her off. Another is that during the days of arranged marriages, the brides face was covered until the groom was committed to her at marriage, so it would be too late to run off it he didn't like the look of her. One final theory is that the veil was worn to protect the bride from evil spirits that may be floating around her on her wedding day. In modern times, it has come to stand as the ultimate symbol of purity, and often the brides father will lift the veil once she reaches the altar.
The Ring Finger
A bride's rings are traditionally worn on the third finger of her left hand. There are two main theories surrounding this, although no precise evidence is known. The first, dating back to the 17th century, is that during a Christian Wedding the priest arrived at the fourth finger (counting the thumb), after touching the three fingers on the left hand, in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit. The second is that the ring finger contains the 'vena amoris' (Also known by it's colloquial term, "The love vein"), that runs directly to the heart.
The joint cake cutting symbolises the couples unity in life, their shared future, and their new life together as one.
Bride to the Left
During the Ceremony, the Bride stands to the left, and the Groom to the right. This originates from the days when a Groom would capture his Bride by kidnapping her. If the Groom had to fight off other suitors, he would hold his Bride to be with his left hand, allowing his right hand free to use his sword.
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen originate from Roman law that demanded ten witnesses be present at a wedding, in order to dupe evil spirits who were believed to attend marriages with the view of causing mischief and disharmony. The Bridesmaids and Groomsmen all dressed in identical clothing to the Bride and Groom, so that the evil spirits wouldn't know who was getting married.
In ancient times, a Bride was given a real horseshoe, and she was to carry it around on her wrist. It symbolised good luck, but only if the horseshoe was worn upwards, otherwise the luck would tip out.
Following the abduction (the wedding), the Groom would put himself and his new bride into hiding, hence the honeymoon, so by the time the Brides family found them, she would already be pregnant.
This tradition has a variety of origins, with two main themes remaining heavy. Some suggest that originally, a bouquet was carried to ward off evil spirits, and was primarily made up of garlic and herbs. A second theory is that brides continued the bouquet tradition to mask body odour. In ancient times, bathing was infrequent, so brides had to do something to help mask the smell, hence the bouquet. Today the bouquet has evolved into something that can express everlasting love and luck, can symbolise your culture or cultural heritiage, or simply a stunning way to express personal preference.
And that's it! Are there any traditions I have left out? Leave me a comment if you know of any weird or wonderful traditions that I have missed, and where it originates from.
Information sourced from