Wedding Traditions

You might find it amusing to read about these long-time wedding traditions. Some of them have many explanations so I am giving you a condensed version which should be fun to read. Times sure have changed!

Giving Away the Bride

Daughters used to be considered their father’s property in the days of arranged marriages. It was the father’s right to give his daughter to the groom for a price. Now the father gives away his daughter as a symbol of his blessing and approval of the marriage.

Tossing the Bouquet

Today the bouquet is tossed to single women with the belief that whoever catches it will be the next one to marry. Tossing the bouquet stems back to England where women would try to rip off a piece of the bride’s dress and flowers with hopes that some of her good luck would rub off on them. The bride would toss her bouquet and run in order to escape the crowd.

The Wedding Ring

The wedding ring is a never-ending circle, which symbolizes everlasting love. Since the Roman times, the wedding ring has been worn on the third finger of the left hand because it was thought that the vein in the third finger runs directly to the heart.

The Best Man

In ancient times, a man would take along his strongest and most trusted friend to help capture a woman to make his bride. The best man would also accompany the groom up the aisle to help defend the bride.

Bride on Groom's Left

In Anglo-Saxon England, grooms often had to defend their brides. The bride would stand to the left of her groom so that his sword arm was free. (What happened if he was a “lefty?”)

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and a Sixpence in Your Shoe

"Something old" represents the bride's link to her family and the past. The bride may choose to wear a piece of family jewelry or her mother or grandmother's wedding gown. "Something new" represents hope for good fortune and success in the future. The bride often chooses the wedding gown to represent the new item. "Something borrowed" usually comes from a happily married woman and is thought to lend some of her good fortune and joy to the new bride. "Something blue" is a symbol of love, fidelity, and purity of the bride. A sixpence in her shoe is to wish the bride wealth in her future life.

Wedding Bouquet

Flowers are incorporated into the wedding ceremony as a symbol of fertility. The first bouquets consisted of herbs and, later, orange blossoms. Brides once carried garlic and dill which probably originated around the time when people used to clutch herbs over their noses and mouths in a desperate effort to survive the plague.

The Bridal Veil

The bridal veil has long been a symbol of youth, modesty, and virginity and was used to ward off evil. In the days of arranged marriages, the veil might have temporarily alleviated some embarrassment if the groom, who was seeing his bride for the first time, didn’t like her.

Bridesmaids

At one time, bridesmaids were dressed just like the brides in order to confuse troublesome spirits. That custom gave way to bridesmaids wearing white dresses but with short veils. As fears of evil spirits subsided and commercial dyes became available, bridesmaids dresses were made in many different colors. This might have been an attempt to make sure that the bride was the best looking girl at the wedding! Actually, bridesmaids are there to support the bride in the stressful times during the wedding.

The Honeymoon

The honeymoon is a carryover from the days when grooms abducted their brides from the neighbors. Through time, those abductions became fun-filled, ritualized enactments of capturing brides. Those escapades, in Norse tradition, led to a tradition in which the bride and groom went into hiding for 30 days. During each of those days, a friend or family member would bring them a cup of honey wine, so that 30 days of consumption equaled a "honeymoon."

Jumping The Broom

The practice of jumping the broom started in slave times, when it was actually illegal for slaves to marry. Nonetheless, the people on the plantations sought to form bonds that were acknowledged by the community, so they jumped the broom together in lieu of a legal wedding. Historians note that freed slaves taught their children to disdain the practice, because to them, it was a symbol of bondage. Others say it acknowledged a powerful bond with another person despite being trapped in a life he didn’t choose. Some modern couples incorporate jumping the broom into their ceremonies as a connection to a painful but significant part of their heritage.

Tying Cans To The Bumper of A Car

On the American frontier in the early 20th century, friends would arrive and bang pots and pans under the bride and grooms windowsill about an hour after they went to sleep. The bride and groom were expected to reappear in full wedding attire and feed the group so they would go away. The tying of tin cans to the bumper of a car is kind of a substitution for this all-night party. The decorating of the car is generally done by the groom's male friends.

The Breaking of the Glass

The conclusion of a Jewish wedding, with its layers of symbolic practices, often ends with the groom crushing a wine glass under his heel. Like many traditions in Jewish weddings, the breaking of the glass can symbolize many things. The breaking of the glass serves as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the most holy place in all of Jewish history. It also reminds the couple of the fragility of the relationship and the need to preserve it.

The Garter

This practice was devised as a way to actually physically protect the bride from the wedding guests. In France, many years ago, guests would rush the bride after the ceremony to snag a piece of her wedding dress, which was considered good luck. These practices were sometimes very invasive so a tradition was created to toss the garter to pacify the mob.

If you enjoyed reading about these wedding traditions, do some research to find more detail. It is very interesting.

I hope this helps. Have fun!

R.J.

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