Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. We all know this common wedding tradition and most of us follow it. But have you ever wondered why?
How about why the bride and groom feed each other cake or about the first time a bride tossed a bouquet to a group of hopeful ladies wishing to be next?
One of my favorite things about weddings is that I get to witness so many amazing and rich cultures. Each one full of history and traditions and meaning. It really is such a beautiful thing to experience. I love learning the reasons behind each tradition and feel is helps me take in the importance of each moment so that I can document it for the couples and families that I work with. But where do these traditions get their start and what do they mean?
Today we are taking a look at the meaning behind common wedding traditions you probably recognize but have no idea why we do them.
The Dress & Veil
Historically, brides just wore their best dress, whatever color it happened to be. However, that changed in 1840 when fashion icon Queen Victoria wore a white gown. Ever since, brides have adopted this tradition. While we love when a bride chooses a more unique color, a white wedding gown will always remain timeless. So where did the veil come from? Ancient Greeks thought that wearing a veil would protect the bride from evil spirits!
The Bouquet Toss
This wedding tradition also explain why June weddings are so popular (not as much in Florida as it is more north). In the 15th and 16th century most people only bathed one a year, usually in May. Brides carried a bouquet to help keep them smelling sweet. So why do brides toss the bouquet? Well, originally this tradition started as a way for the bride to distract her guests so they could depart quickly!
The Garter Toss
Like many others, this wedding tradition started as a superstition for good luck. As a bride was seen as the most lucky lady on her wedding day, it was considered good luck to have a piece of her dress. Guests would fight to get a small scrap of the dress and some luck of their own. To spare his bride, one groom tossed her garter (used to hold up her stockings) to appease the feisty mob of ladies.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
Each part of this phrase has a special meaning. Something old represents a bride’s family and her past. Something new represents her her husband and her future. Brides carried something borrowed from someone with a happy marriage for good luck. Something blue stands for faithfulness and purity. If you’re the very traditional type, this came from an old English rhyme and ended, “and a sixpence in her shoe”, which symbolized wealth for the new couple.
In ancient times, the groom would feed the bride a bite of cake and crumble the rest over her head. This was to encourage luck and fertility. Wedding guests would then scramble for crumbs to place under their pillows to have a bit of the bride’s good luck. This tradition evolved into today tradition of having a wedding cake to share with guests. Sounds a whole lot less messy to me!
Ever wonder why bridesmaids all wear matching dresses? It wasn’t to ensure the bride stands out or to make them look tacky in comparison. Originally, bridesmaids wore dresses similar to the bride in order to confuse and ward off evil spirits. Another tradition says that bridesmaids were meant to protect the bride from past boyfriends who might try to hard the bride or try to steal her dowry.
The Best Man
The best man seems like a strange term if you think about it. Why isn’t the groom the best man? Historically the best man was chosen for his strength and fighting skills. The best man’s job was to keep the bride from escape and sometimes even kidnap her if her parents didn’t approve of the union. Sometimes he even had to fight rivals or enemies. And you thought trusting your fiancé’s buddy with the rings was a little nerve racking.
During the Ceremony…
One of my favorite traditions is the bride standing on the left at the altar. When I did some research, I found that the bride would traditionally stand on the left of the groom for 2 reasons. First, since your heart is on your left side, the bride stands on the left to symbolize standing under the groom’s heart. But also, it frees the groom’s right hand for a sword to defend his bride in case someone tried to steal her away!
Who knew some of the traditions we follow today without even thinking or questioning why have such interesting origins. Some of them sounds so strange foreign or superstitious in our modern era, but we love them all the same!
Stay tuned for part 2 blog post coming soon- cultural wedding traditions!