Wedding Traditions, their explanations and why we use them.
There are so many wedding traditions. Some we use and some we don’t. Some that have an influence on our big day and some we have never heard of or would use. And some that are really confusing
Not much is known about when and where this tradition originated, It is believed to go back to Tudor times when men would bow and remove their hat for the ladies as a sign of admiration and politeness. Removing your hat is still used today often used to show signs of respect to ladies.
This goes back to when marriages were arranged, and the couple did not meet or see each other before the wedding just in case either party did not like the look of the other and pulled out of the wedding or more likely ran away.
It derives from the Old English rhyme, "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe”; which names the five traditional good-luck objects a bride should have with her on her wedding day.
Don't stress over them, they’re usually small tokens of love that your mother, sister, other relatives and/or attendants will give you, or you could get yourself. Of course, this tradition extends far beyond trinkets for the bride. Grooms can sport blue ties or borrow their grandfathers' cuff links. Bridesmaids can wear blue and act as the bride's “something blue.” Blue hair or blue nails, a display of old family photographs, new jewellery, or watch for the groom.
Here's the original meaning behind these Old English sayings
It is believed that “something old” represents continuity, and couples use this as a chance to wear a sentimental piece of jewellery or item of clothing belonging to an older relative. Often the parents of the bride will gift her an heirloom before the ceremony.
The Meaning of “Something New”
This one’s pretty straightforward: “Something new” offers optimism for the future. The couple is about to enter into a new chapter in their lives, so walking into marriage with “something new” makes sense. Don’t worry about searching for the an extra “something new”, it really could mean your dress, shoes, jewellery.
The Meaning of "Something Borrowed"
This “something borrowed” is believed to bring the couple good luck. By borrowing something from a happily married friend or relative, the bride or couple ensures a little of their good fortune rubs off on them. The old-fashioned superstition urged the bride to borrow the undergarments of female friend or relative with a happy marriage and healthy kids Today it’s all about honouring a loved one or holding onto something of sentimental value—like your grandmother’s wedding hair comb or your mother’s diamond earrings—for a touch of good luck as you say your “I dos.”
The Meaning of "Something Blue"
The meaning of “something blue” stands for love, purity and fidelity—three key qualities for a solid marriage. Blue was also an expensive colour to produce it was also linked with the sixpence with prosperity. Traditionally the bride often wore a blue garter under her dress, however you don’t have to wear “something blue”. Sprinkle blue clematis into the bouquet, pick out a gorgeous pair of blue pumps, find a powder-blue bow tie or use blue ribbon to tie your invitation suites together—just because you feel like it.
The Meaning of “Sixpence in your Shoe”
This can be a little more difficult these days as we don’t have a sixpence in circulation, however there are plenty available on the internet, some of which have been drilled so that can be worn or used as a charm on the shoe, flowers, or even as a charm on the garter. The Sixpence was to bring prosperity, especially as originally, they were actually made of silver. A slightly darker side was also a hidden message for the wife to always have a little hidden money if she needed it for any reason. In today’s society of equality this is not relevant, but still a nice tradition if you are that way inclined.
Most people think that this is the oldest tradition, when in fact only dates back to Queen Victoria. Before then it was just wear your best clothes to get married in and in most cases your best clothes were black as it was cheaper to dye clothes black than to colour them or try and get white cloth that was only available to the very rich.
Queen Victoria and Albert were seen as trend setters of their day, hence as Victoria wore white all the ladies wanted to be seen to do the same and copied her, therefore starting the trend. Victoria wrote in her diary: “I wore a white satin dress with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design, and my jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace and earrings and dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch”.
In Medieval times the bridal bouquet was not an aesthetic accent, but more of a necessary accessory. In the Middle Ages, brides would carry herbs with pungent scents, like dill and wild garlic, to ward off evil spirits and to mask the unpleasant scent of body odour. Dill apparently has the added advantage of being an aphrodisiac, so the bride would conveniently have it on hand for herself and her new husband to consume post-ceremony to encourage the expected consummation.
Originally weddings were more of a business transaction rather than for love, the bride would be sold or auctioned of for an appropriate value, which could have been made up of anything from animals to barrels of wine, so when asked who gives the bride away, normally the father would say them to prove they agreed with the marriage, to stop couples eloping.
Once again this is a very old tradition; the bride always stood on the left so the groom could defend his wife with a sword in his right hand, and still hold on to her to stop her being stolen away or kidnapped, either by another man for to be ransomed back to him.
Many believe the tradition began with the Romans, who thought a vein called the vena amoris (The Vein of Love, named after the Roman Goddess of love Venus) which ran straight from the fourth finger on the left hand to the heart. This tradition was then passed on when the Roman empire spread across Europe, and the locals wanted to be seen to be on trend and followed their fashions.
Others believe it began simply because the left hand is generally least used and so a more practical choice for adornment.
The Egyptians used the middle finger of the left hand, while ancient Gauls and Britons favoured the little finger.
Vikings also exchanged rings as part of their wedding ceremony, however they also exchanged ancestral swords.
Roman Catholics preferred to use the right hand for betrothal and wedding rings until the middle of the 18th century.
Rarely worried about superstitions state It is supposedly unlucky for a bride to try on her wedding ring before marriage and it is said that whichever of the couple drops the ring in church shall be the first to die. It is also said to be unlucky to remove a wedding ring before seven years of marriage.
The tradition of showering the happy couple in something goes back to Roman times. Originally it was grains of wheat or oats, as an offering for good fertility and wealth, as time progressed this became white rice, however all of these can hurt so paper confetti took over as it could be made in bright colours and didn’t hurt when thrown.
Pies, Buns, and Cakes have played a very big part in British weddings for hundreds of years. Going back to medieval times the wedding guests would present bread and pies as gifts to the couple as wedding presents to get them started off, in their new house together. The happy couple would kiss over a heaped pile of sweet rolls. By the 1800’s this tradition had progressed to guests leaving a pie under the bride’s pillow.
As time moved on other traditions involved the bride making one of the wedding cakes as an offering of good luck; more recently couples would have a fruitcake as the top tear, which would be saved for the Christening cake of their first-born child.
Now it is accepted the couple cuts the cake, so it can be shared amongst their guests, some couples are also opting to copy an American tradition by feeding cake to each other as a sign of affection.
Dating back to the 18th Century to the days of royal balls, the first dance was normally opening spectacle that kicked off the party. It was customary for the male guest of honour, possibly a visiting royal to invite the lady of the house to join him in the first dance. This tradition eventually became a wedding custom.
The wedding host, traditionally the bride’s father, would dance with her first, followed by the groom, this also acted like the giving away of the bride as the handing over of the daughter to her new husband and into his care.
During the more barbaric times of 15th century Britain, there was a peculiar tradition at the end of the wedding day. Where the guests tore at the bride’s dress, flowers and even hair, as they believed that grabbing a piece of the bride’s outfit would pass some of her good luck on to them.
However, as the guests could get very rowdy and cause injuries to the bride, a tradition evolved where the bride would simply toss her flowers at the mob and run for her life.
Some believe this may have progressed from the bouquet toss. The very first wedding favours were known as ‘bonbonnieres’ and were gifts given to guests as they are today.
The meaning behind a wedding favour is that it is a symbol of good luck. Today, guests usually look forward to something sweet for their favour, however many centuries ago bridal parties would give their guests a sugar cube as a sign for wealth. Sugar cubes were seen to be very expensive and therefore were only available to the rich.
Over time sugar cubes became affordable to everyone and were later substituted for almonds coated in sugar, sugared almonds also known as confetti, which we know today and are a still a popular traditional wedding favour to choose, although there are so many more options available now from love hearts to charity pins.
Surprisingly, the romantic idea of a honeymoon is attributed war-loving Vikings. Newlywed Viking couples were sent to live in a cave for one month. Every day, during 30 moons, a family member would be sent to visit them, giving them a jug of honeyed wine. This was later translated to the term ‘honeymoon’ for the period a couple would be left alone to consummate the marriage and to get to know each other.
This back-breaking wedding custom came to Britain from Germany.
In the days of the Germanic tribes, the groom had to hoist the bride over his shoulder and carry her into his hut, as it made her look less enthusiastic about the wedding night and was therefore regarded as a guarantee of her chastity. Today the tradition has changed slightly where the Groom now carries his Bride in his arms. Slightly more romantic than over his shoulder like a bag of coal