“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”
Even just by reading romance novels and pocketbooks, you’ll see this quote in most wedding stories. Wedding traditions come in all forms and manner depending on which part of the world you are from. For your own wedding day, you and your family might have some wedding traditions that you want to make sure will be seen and included in your wedding ceremony. Over the years some wedding traditions have changed, and you might even be curious as to how most of these came about.
We’ve compiled a list of the most common wedding traditions that you might generally find in most cultures, and are being practiced in modern-day weddings.
Back in the day when arranged marriages were still practiced, the wedding veil was used to conceal the bride’s face. This would prevent the groom from seeing his bride before the marriage, and it would also prevent him from leaving if he did not like the look of his bride. It was also a way of warding off evil and protecting the purity of the bride. As with Roman tradition, the veils were flame-colored to scare off bad spirits and keep her safe from enchantment.
The tradition of exchanging wedding rings go back as far as 3000 years ago. In ancient Egyptian times, the ring was used to symbolize eternity. Women would wear rings made of papyrus. This was tied around their wrists and ankles, and then, later on, was substituted by iron. Eventually, it was led to the use of gold for the first rings used for marriage.
Later on, the rings were set with precious gems flaunting the giver’s wealth. In 300 BC, the first diamond engagement ring was given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria when he proposed to Mary of Burgundy. Diamond was considered another symbol of eternity as it was one of the hardest gems on earth. The tradition of wearing the rings on the fourth finger originated from the ancient Egyptians as well, who believed that the ring finger is where the vein that connects to the heart can be found.
Wedding Cake Tradition
The tradition of wedding cakes originated from ancient Rome when the Romans would bake a loaf of barley bread and then throw it over, or break it over the bride’s head to symbolize fertility. The guests would then catch the crumbs and take them home for good luck. In the 17th century, the wedding cake was considered a luxury item, and a sign of celebration and social status.
In Medieval England, the cake would be stacked as high as possible for the groom and the bride to kiss over. If they were able to kiss over the cake successfully, then they would be guaranteed a life of prosperity.
Cans Tied to the Bumper
Cans tied to the bumper creates a celebratory noise, one that would match the wedding whoops for the new couple. However, it is actually a French custom called the ‘charivari’. It was done on the night of the wedding when groups of people would gather outside the newlyweds’ home to bang their pots and pans, blow horns and make noise that would cause the most disturbance in an effort to toast the newlyweds’ union before their wedding night ended, and a final appearance of the couple was afforded to satisfy the crowd.
The flower girl dates back to ancient Roman traditions, where virgins would carry sheaths of wheat. This was believed to bring well-being, prosperity, abundance, and good fortune. The virgin would walk ahead of the bride to shower her with grains and herbs.
During the Elizabethan era, a younger child was included to symbolize hope and innocence. The young girl was a representation of the bride’s younger and more innocent version before she matures and marries to settle down.
The tradition of having a bridal party originated from Ancient Rome. Their primary purpose was to protect the bride from evil spirits and curses by wearing the same outfit as her. This would confuse the evil spirits or anyone who wanted to with the bride’s demise, from finding her.
The maid of honor also had to be someone who was of respectable standing in the community and one who represented fidelity and obedience. It was believed that the maid of honor’s qualities would be passed down to the bride. The maid of honor was to be more than just a friend or a family member, but she should be a role model in the community.
White Wedding Dress
If you ever wondered why a wedding dress had to be white, this tradition actually originated from the Victorian era after Queen Victoria wore a white lace dress at her wedding. Debutantes when presented to the court had to wear white. They would be introduced to the queen for the first time. Western and European brides at that time would wear colorful gowns and dresses for their wedding.
White dresses, later on, were favored to show the world that the bride’s family was wealthy and that they would choose an elaborate dress that could easily be ruined or dirtied. Later on, the white wedding dress would symbolize virginal purity and innocence before marriage, and to this day, many brides wear white for this same reason.
Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Although it originated from a nursery rhyme, ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a Sixpence in your shoe,’ this rhyme mentions the four good luck charms for a bride when she is to be wed. These objects were supposed to ward off the Evil Eye, which was a curse that could be passed through a malicious glare and could make the bride infertile.
Another tradition that would bring about wearing something blue dates back to early Christianity when the color blue was associated with the Virgin Mary to symbolize purity and fidelity of the bride.
During the 14th century, it was customary for the guests to receive a piece of the bride’s clothing for good luck. As it was, the guests would become rowdy and rough, literally destroying the bride’s dress in an attempt to rip the pieces of fabric off of it. As a way to prevent more harm and damage from happening, it became customary for the bride to toss a garter to the crowd of men so that they may have a piece of her clothing for good luck.
Later on, in an effort to protect his bride, the groom would remove the garter from her, and he would toss the garter to the crowd of men. The bride would then toss her bouquet to the group of single girls in hopes that the bride’s good fortune would be passed on to them, and they, too, would get married.
Kara has been with Wedding Favors Unlimited for 2 years. She’s been giving wedding and style advice for the past 5 years from bridal magazines to bridal boutiques. Feel free to ask Kara a question below!