We all know that every wedding is different and unique in its own right. And however while that may be true, there are still some customs we hold on to (and some we walk away from) when planning a fairly traditional wedding.
Here we’ve collected the most enduring eight wedding traditions with their origins and meaning. Which ones will you include on your big day?
Centuries ago, brides traditionally carried with them aromatic bunches of garlic, fruit blossoms, herbs, and grains to drive away evil spirits and symbolize prosperity. Over the years, the herbs and grains were replaced by flowers, a sign of happiness that represented fertility and everlasting love.
The tossing of the bridal bouquet is a custom that roots in England and was believed to be a way for the bride to pass along her good fortune to others. Bridal guests would try and tear away pieces of the bride’s clothing and flowers in order to obtain this fortune. In attempt to get away from this tearing of her gown, the bride would toss her bouquet into the crowd. As tradition says, the single lady who catches the bouquet has received the bride’s fortune and will be next in line to marry.
It is said that in the days gone past, the bride and groom had to show proof of their wedding consummation. In order for it to be proven, it was common tradition to have people like family and friends come into the room with the couple. The “witnesses” would obtain the garter as “proof” of the consummation. Also having any article of the under garments was considered to be good luck and some of their clothes were snatched for good luck. This was not appreciated much by the bride nor many grooms, hence the groom started tossing the garter out so that no one would need to obtain it themselves.
Since early Roman times some grain – usually wheat – has been associated with the wedding ceremony. By throwing rice at the bride and groom at a wedding, guests symbolically wish them a lifetime full of blessings with symbolism of fertility and of prosperity.
One of the most popular wedding traditions is wearing a wedding veil. Although some may say that wearing a wedding veil helps keep the bad spirits away, most brides still partake in this wedding tradition simply because they believe that their wedding ensemble just isn’t complete without one.
There are many stories of the origin of a bride’s veil. Some say that the veil was introduced in ancient Rome. People believed that evil spirits would be attracted to the bride, so they covered her face with a veil in order to conceal her features and confuse them.
It’s also said that in medieval times, the veil was used to protect the bride from the “evil eye” and was a symbol of purity, chastity, and modesty.
Others say the the origin of the bridal veil was due to the circumstances of an arranged marriage. In days past, men bargained with an eligible young lady’s father for their hand in marriage. AFTER the ceremony, the veil was lifted to reveal the brides features. This was to keep a groom from backing out of the deal if he didn’t like what he saw.
Certain lengths of veils got their names from how or where they were worn. At one time, cathedral veils were only worn in wedding that took place in cathedrals.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, (A Sixpence in Your Shoe!)
Bet you didn’t know about the sixpence in the shoe!
This tradition comes from an Old English rhyme “Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe”, and describes the four objects that the bride adds to her wedding outfit or carries with her on the big day as good luck charms. They can be little tokens of love from your mother, sister, other relatives.
Something old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity; and a sixpence in your shoe is a wish for good fortune and prosperity, (although the sixpence remains largely a British custom).
Jumping The Broom
Today “Broom Jumping” is a ritual, handed down from generation to generation to remind of a time when wedding vows between African-American couples were not legally sanctioned. During slavery, blacks sought the legitimacy of marriage by jumping over the broom and into the bonds of domesticity. For them, it was a small ritual that was a legal and bonding act connecting them with the heritage of Africa and giving legitimacy, dignity and strength to their unions.
It is said that broom jumping comes from an African Tribal Marriage Ritual of placing sticks on the ground representing the couple’s new home together. Also, it is said that the spray of the broom represents all of Africans who have been scattered through slavery, and the handle represents the almighty who still holds them together.
Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold
The idea for carrying the bride over the threshold stems from the belief that the newlywed couple is very susceptible to evil spirits. By carrying the bride over the threshold, the groom is putting a protective space between her and the floor, thus protecting her.
It has been said that couples save the top layer of their wedding cake by freezing it so that on their one year anniversary they can share it together while looking back on all the things that have made them grow as a couple and made their love and marriage stronger.