There are so many traditions that are associated with weddings and most of us follow them blindly without knowing the origin of most of them. So I decided to do some research and see if I can clarify the origins of at least some of these traditions.
Something old, something new….
The original rhyme goes: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe.
Something old represented a link with the bride’s family and her old life.
Something new represented success and good luck in her new life.
Something borrowed, preferably from a happily married woman, was supposed to bring the same good luck and happiness to the bride
Something blue stems from the times when the colour blue represented purity and fidelity.
The silver sixpence in the bride’s shoe was to ensure health, happiness and prosperity for the new wife.
I don’t know if I will specifically do any of these on the wedding day. The ‘something new’ won’t be so difficult, but not sure about the rest!
The custom started when a father refused his daughter a dowry as he was against the proposed marriage. Friends got together and ‘showered’ her with the items she needed for her dowry. And how grateful we are to these poor souls! I can’t wait for my shower, which will not be a ‘wrap a can good in a tea cloth’ party, but a lingerie/pamper party! These days anything goes, from a traditional bridal shower where the bride-to-be is made to dress up and bridal shower games are played to bachelorette parties which tends to be livelier and raunchier! Your party can include sexy lingerie for your honeymoon, a cooking lesson, a pampering manicure and pedicure, a male stripper, a pole dancing lesson, a lap dancing lesson; anything you think will be fun. Make sure that the person who is arranging the party knows what you would like to do, and you are bound to have a smashing time! Another option that seems to be gaining momentum is the so-called Jack & Jill party, where the party is for both the bride and groom together. This is more popular with couples who have lived together for a while and don’t see the need for a ‘last night of freedom’.
Lifting the veil
The tradition of lifting the veil apparently started in the time of arranged marriages when the groom saw his bride for the first time when her father lifted the veil. Poor sod!
The old folks were a superstitious bunch, it seems, as this custom also has to do with chasing away evil spirits and blessing the couple and their future together. Today your choice of confetti include the traditional rice, birdseed, rose petals, feathers, autumn leaves, bubbles, tiny wedding bells, sparklers, or even butterflies.
What started as loaves of bread broken over the bride’s head as a blessing for a long life and many children, turned into one of the sweetest (excuse the pun) wedding traditions we still honour. See my previous post A new take on wedding cakes for ideas on what is available today!
Bouquet and Garter toss
The tradition of the bouquet toss stems from early days in England when it was considered good luck to take home a piece of the bride’s attire. Guests would fight for bits of the bride’s clothes, flowers or headpiece to share in the good fortune. This developed into the bride throwing her bouquet (to the single ladies) and the garter (to the single men). If you don’t want to throw your bouquet you can ask your florist to make you a smaller one specifically for this purpose.
There are more traditions that need some examining, such as the honeymoon, carrying the bride over the threshold and the origins of wedding rings. But to me it seems that most of these traditions stem from wanting to wish the couple good luck and blessing their union. Those superstitious folk sure gave us a lot of customs that we still incorporate into our weddings today!