Ever Wonder Where They Originated and Their Meaning?
Used long ago to seal agreements. A marriage or engagement is thought of as a sacred agreement. During the time when marriages were purchased, the ring symbolized a partial payment for the bride. Diamonds have always been the preferred stone for engagement rings by brides. It was said that the diamond’s sparkle is caused by the fires of love.
Because of a Dutch father, bridal showers were introduced. The father did not approve of his daughter’s choice for a husband – he was after all a poor miller. The bride, assisted by her friends asked to be showered with gifts so that she would have the necessary dowry to gain her father’s respect and permission to be married to this man. In England many years later a woman wanted to congratulate her friend for her upcoming marriage, but her one gift did not seem big enough. So she suggested to the bride’s friends that they gather and present their gifts at the same time. It was so popular that it became known as a bridal shower, and has continued on today.
Traditionally, the bridal gowns are white because of ancient Greeks and Romans believing that white was a symbol of purity, innocence, and joy. Today the white or ivory dress is a symbol of the celebration. Lace, was considered an art in Europe, and used as a popular ornamentation to the gowns. Used a lot today!
LENGTH OF BRIDE’S TRAIN
In the middle Ages, the length of a bride’s train showed her rank in royal court. The longer her train was the closer to the King and Queen. It showed that she had great influence with the royalty.
THE BRIDAL VEIL
The veil has long been a symbol of youth, modesty and virginity, and was used to turn off evil.
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLUE, AND A SIXPENCE IN YOUR SHOE
Something old… a reflection of the bond to the bride’s family and the past. It can be reflected in the wearing of the mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown (which is seldom done today), or the wearing of a piece of family jewelry. It was often a hanky of a grandmother, or a small family bible.
Something new… gives the symbol of hope and good fortune. This is often seen as the new wedding gown, a piece of jewelry as a gift from the groom or her family.
Something borrowed… is usually an item lent to the bride from a happily married secure mature woman. It is meant to share the happiness, good fortune and joy of a stable woman.
Something blue… is a symbol of love, fidelity and purity of the bride. This is often the garter the bride wears. This particular tradition of the something blue is not used as much today.
Sixpence in your shoe… symbolized a wish to the bride for wealth in her married life. This is another tradition that has not been used by brides of the present.
The bridal party was established many centuries ago. According to folk lure the purpose of the bridesmaids was to fool evil spirits. The bride’s friends would dress similar to her to fool and confuse any evil prescience that might be around. In today’s weddings bridesmaid are around to help the bride in stressful times during the wedding.
WHITE AISLE RUNNER
The white runner symbolizes the marriage covenant between two people, and their God. It symbolizes God’s holiness and that he is part of their ceremony and that they are on holy ground.
WEDDING FLOWERS – Bridal Party
Flowers were originally incorporated into the ceremony as a symbol of fertility.
THE TRADITION OF THE GROOM NOT SEEING THE BRIDE ON THE DAY OF THE WEDDING
It is said to bad luck to the couple if they see each other. It is explained that if they see each other they are taking a glimpse in the future and bringing bad luck.
WHY THE GROOM ENTERS FIRST
The action of the groom entering first shows that he is the covenant initiator. This shows that as the initiator he assumes responsibility to make sure the covenant is fulfilled.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE ESCORTS HER DOWN THE AISLE
This tradition actually has a two part meaning – first the Father of the bride is actually saying through this that he thinks that this young man is a very good choice for his daughter and that he is escorting her to him. It can also be taken to mean that the father is presenting his daughter to this man as a pure young woman that he raised.
WHY THE GROOM SAYS HIS MARRIAGE VOWS FIRST
In marriages, it is viewed that the man should be the leader and assumes a larger responsibility. The groom is thought of as the covenant initiator, and he must be the first to commit to the marriage as per God’s desire.
TAKING OF THE RIGHT HANDS BY THE COUPLE DURING THE CEREMONY
Offering the open right hand to each other during the ceremony presents a sign of strength and purpose. By clasping the hands together, they combine these strengths and accept the other’s symbolizing that each can depend on the other.
THE WEDDING RING
Since the Roman times, the wedding ring has always been placed on the third finger of the left hand. They believed that finger’s vein ran straight to the heart.
The ring is also a circle – meaning never ending.
The kissing at the end of the ceremony is an Ancient Roman tradition. In those days it would mean that your marriage was now legal. It was considered a legal bond. It also is associated with the tapping of a spoon on a glass until the couple kisses. Today you sometimes see the spoon and glass tradition take place at the reception.
WHY THE COUPLE IS PRONOUNCED HUSBAND AND WIFE
This is the point and time of the ceremony when they are blessed by marriage and start their journey together. It also gives those in attendance the reassurance that they are now married – a sort of validation.
THROWING OF RICE AND PETALS
In the Middle Ages, it was the custom to throw handfuls of wheat over the couple to represent the hope for fertility. In more recent times rice was substituted for the wheat, then it was flower petals to symbolize beauty, happiness, prosperity and of course fertility. Today, things are changing to include bird seed. Many venues or churches do not allow the throwing of rice. Flower petals are often used too. Real flower petals are preferred…
The receiving line came from an ancient belief or folklore that the bride and groom brought luck to all those that they touched on their wedding day.
SIGNING OF THE GUEST BOOK
According to tradition, the wedding guest book is a book that should actually be signed “after” the ceremony. The guests would be testifying that they were witness to the covenant, and will testify to the reality of the marriage.
WHY ARE WEDDING CAKES SUCH A BIG PART OF THE WEDDING CELEBRATION
The ancient Romans considered bread to be a symbol of fertility. To ensure that fertility would be present in this couple, a loaf of bread would be broken over the bride’s head and the crumbs would be served to the guests. Another look at this would be the belief that a couple was not considered married until they had broken the bread and eaten it together.
Today we use the cutting of the cake, and the groom feeding the bride first, or together to follow that tradition of the Romans.
Guests are offered a piece of the wedding cake to wish the couple luck and to provide a sign of unity.
WHY WEDDING CAKES ARE USUALLY TIERED
During the Anglo-Saxon era, guests would bring small cakes to the wedding reception and stacked them on top of each other. As time progressed a baker in France created a cake with the shape of small cakes on top of one another and covered it in frosting. That style of cake is now known as a tiered cake.
FAVORS FOR THE GUESTS
In the 18th and 19th centuries, gloves were given to the guests as their favor for attending the event.
WHY FOOD AT THE RECEPTION
It symbolizes the unity of the couple, and they share that with their guests.
This tradition stems from England. Women often tried to tear pieces of the bride’s dress for good luck. But then the bride began tossing her bouquet and running to avoid the crowds. Today’s brides still toss a throw away bouquet and the one who catches it is believed to be the next to get married.
Marriage was historically brought by a capture of the bride by the groom. The groom would take his bride to a place where she could not be found. They would stay at this location for approximately 30 days, as the moon went through its phases. While they were there they would drink a brew made of honey. This is how the term “honeymoon” began.
TRADITIONS OF OTHER CULTURES FOR WEDDINGS
Sugar Cube – Greek brides tuck a cube of sugar in their glove to sweeten the union.
Rain on Your Wedding Day – Hindu beliefs include that rain on your wedding day is good luck.
Planting of Tree – in the Netherlands a tree is planted outside the newlywed’s home as a symbol of fertility.
Gift Collection – Finish brides traditionally carried a pillow case door to door collecting gifts.
Red and Yellow Outfits – Korean brides were outfits in these colors to their wedding.
Hand Tying – this is done in many cultures, including Celtic, Native American, Hindu and Egyptian. The couple’s hands are tied together during the ceremony as a symbol of their bond and commitment.
Jumping of the Broom – An African-American tradition, brought about because marriages were not allowed during slavery so they would show their love at a celebration by jumping the broom. It is used by many today as part of their ceremony, even other cultures.
Sake – Japanese tradition is that the couple becomes man and wife after they have taken the first nine sips of sake.
Locking of the Doors – In Ireland, the doors to the church were locked after everyone had entered to insure that the groom would not back out.