Popular Wedding Traditions and Their Origins
Chances are that you are familiar with many of the most popular wedding traditions, but you probably don’t know quite as much about their origins. The origins of many popular wedding traditions revolve around a fear of evil spirits and the belief that brides were attractive targets for these spirits. Other traditions arose due to the very different nature of weddings in the past. When it comes down to popular wedding traditions, you are in complete control over which you choose to keep and which you intend to forego. Either way, it is fun to learn about the origins of some of the popular wedding traditions that you see regularly! At The Little Vegas Chapel, we can help you to plan the ideal wedding to meet all of your specific needs and preferences. Here are some of the most popular wedding traditions and their origins.
Something Old and Something New
You’ve probably heard about having something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue at your wedding. This comes from an Old English rhyme. The rhyme goes: “Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe.” The sixpence part tends to be a more popular thing in England. These objects are intended to serve as good luck charms to start off a marriage on the ideal foundation. Each of the items are also symbolic. The “something old” object serves to symbolize the bride’s past. “Something new” is used to represent a happy, joyful future for the couple. The borrowed object is supposed to be borrowed from someone who is happily married. This is believed to share the love and longevity from their existing marriage and enables the bride to take it into her new marriage. Finally, blue is a color that is used to symbolize fidelity and love.
Not Seeing Each Other on the Wedding Day
The idea of each individual not seeing each other on the wedding day actually originated from arranged marriages. The idea was that if the couple didn’t necessarily like what they saw, they might change their minds prior to the marriage. By preventing this from happening, the families would ensure that the wedding would proceed as planned. For many arranged marriages, the wedding was the first time they actually saw their intended spouse. Since that time, seeing the other on the wedding day has evolved to be considered bad luck, rather than to prevent the couple from calling off the wedding. Some people choose to not see each other prior to the wedding simply to capture the magical moment when they first see the other.
Many people think that the same reason for not seeing the other person may be behind using the wedding veil, because it would hide the bride’s face until it was essentially “too late” for the groom to back out. Others, however, say that the implementation of a wedding veil was intended to disguise the bride from evil spirits that may otherwise target her. The idea of evil spirits is actually the reason behind many of today’s most popular wedding traditions.
The Wedding Cake
The idea of a wedding cake was originally implemented as bread that was broken over the couple. This eventually evolved to using the wedding cake, because both are made of wheat, which is the important part of the tradition. Wheat was used to provide a symbol of fertility and prosperity. In addition, the bread and cake variations used to actually be thrown at the bride in order to increase fertility. Fortunately, this tradition has grown out of style, which helps to prevent wasting perfectly good cake!
Wedding bouquets weren’t always made of beautiful flowers. The original bouquets were made up of garlic, herbs, and various spices. This concoction was designed to ward off evil spirits that were said to target the bride on her wedding day. Many people also believe that it was used to mask the bride’s body odor, which may have been true prior to the widespread knowledge of good hygiene. This bouquet eventually evolved to the beautiful flowers that we see today.
Throwing the bouquet served a different purpose. Though apparently everyone believed a bride would be targeted by evil spirits, they also thought touching a bride on her wedding day would bring them good luck. This could easily become overwhelming, as everyone would want to increase their luck. Due to this, the bride began to start tossing her bouquet into the crowd in order to distract them from their desire to touch her for good luck.
The tradition of bridesmaids is also steeped in an origin of evading evil spirits. The bridesmaids were intended to confuse evil spirits or other people who wished to cause harm to the bride. Rather than wearing the separate dresses that they do now, they would wear similar dresses to the bride in order to optimize confusion. Then there would be a line of multiple women with a similar appearance, which would supposedly confuse the evil spirits that would then leave the bride alone. Bridesmaids were also expected to provide protection for the bride in the event that she was attacked.
People used to throw rice over the departing couple in order to symbolize rain. This was because rain was said to symbolize fertility, good fortune, and prosperity. Eventually, this evolved to using other things, such as confetti.
Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold
We haven’t quite made it past the traditions that arose out of fear of evil spirits. In the past, it was said that the bride was vulnerable to evil spirits through the soles of her feet. Thus, the groom would carry the bride over the threshold to avoid tracking evil spirits into their home.
Tossing the Garter
In the past, it was necessary for a newly married couple to provide “proof” that the marriage had been consummated. Friends and family would gather outside of the bedchamber until this proof was provided. This proof was often various articles of clothing, such as the garter. Eventually, the garter even became a symbol of good luck. Since it was considered good luck to get a discarded article of clothing from the couple, this crowd would even become rambunctious at times. The garter started to be thrown in order to distract the crowd, much like the bouquet. Fortunately, times have changed, and the garter is now thrown into the crowd based off of tradition, rather than to provide proof of consummation.
Giving the Bride Away
Today, the tradition of giving the bride away is a sweet, sentimental moment between a woman and her father. It serves to symbolize the transition that the woman is making in her life. In the past, however, marriages were ceremonies that transferred ownership, rather than providing a union of love. Giving the bride away was essentially the moment in which the transaction was made. The woman would be used as the collateral as she was walked down the aisle. She would then be exchanged for a “bride price.” Giving the bride away is a tradition that has resulted from the previous transactional nature of weddings.
The Best Man
The best man tradition is another factor that evolved based on the transactional nature of weddings. Having a best man was supposed to provide protection for the groom, in case there were upset family members of the bride or other potential problems. They were also intended to prevent any runaway brides from escaping. The best man wasn’t chosen because he was the groom’s brother or best friend. He was chosen because he was the strongest or had the best swordsmanship and was, therefore, most capable to provide protection and ensure that the transaction proceeded smoothly.
The honeymoon is now the way a couple relaxes after the crazy wedding planning months. It may even be one of the most anticipated components of a wedding. In the past, however, honeymoons weren’t fun getaways to Aruba. Originally, the honeymoon started as a way for the couple to hide from the bride’s family. The groom would usually take the bride to a hiding place for around a month to prevent her tribe from finding them. After this month, they would then return to the groom’s family.
There are many popular wedding traditions that have unexpected and interesting origins. Prior to the Victorian era, for example, women used to traditionally wear red wedding dresses rather than white ones. After Queen Victoria opted for a white wedding dress, they began to become the trend. When you work with our team at The Little Vegas Chapel, you can choose what wedding traditions you want to incorporate into your own wedding. There are many advantages to having your wedding with us at The Little Vegas Chapel! We can help you to plan the ideal wedding that meets all of your expectations. To learn more about having your wedding with us, contact our experts today!