Wedding facts

The Origins of Wedding Traditions

There are so many traditions that are done at weddings that we’ve inherited and we don’t even know why it’s necessary to do certain things. There are things such as holding the bouquet, having bridesmaids, wearing white at the wedding, and the father walking the bride down the aisle. This article explores and gives you answers as to why certain things are done and it’s up to you to continue with the tradition or drop it.

Origins of the bridesmaid

Being one’s bridesmaid is quite an honour and quite a special responsibility. Today, being a bridesmaid means looking pretty for the wedding photoshoots and showing off your dance moves as entertainment for the guests. However, being a bridesmaid was not always to make sure that the bride stood out while the rest of the squad wore matching dresses. Bridesmaids originally wore similar dresses to the bride to confuse her exes and outsmart evil spirits! This was to make sure that the evil spirits wouldn’t know which woman in the group was getting married. When it comes to bridesmaids’ duties, in early Roman times, bridesmaid would line up to form a protective shield while walking the bride to the groom’s village. The group of women who were dressed similarly was expected to intervene if any vengeful paramours tried to hurt the bride.

Origins of the wedding cake

Originally, the groom would take a bite of bread at the wedding, crumbling the rest over the bride’s head for good luck. The guests would then scramble around her feet to pick up the crumbs to absorb some of that good luck. Eventually, the bride would now push pieces of her wedding cake through her ring to the guests. Those who would have attended the wedding would take that piece of cake home to place under their pillows for good luck.

Origins of the best man

The best man’s duty was to make sure that the bride did not escape the ceremony. At that time, the best man was not even the groom’s best friend but just a strong man who would be hired to make sure the groom gets his bride. Sometimes, he was asked to kidnap her! This was done when the parents did not approve of the marriage, so to make sure that the parents do not take their daughter. So regardless of how the father felt, the groom had to get his bride.

Origins of the wedding dress

White is associated with purity and that is why it is thought of as the traditional colour for virgin brides. Before the mid-1800s, as we covered in the last edition, brides wore red. They only started wearing white around 1840 when Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert. Queen Victoria wore a white, lacy dress, and at this time, white represented wealth as opposed to purity.

Origins of tossing the bouquet

Tossing the bouquet by the bride before the end of the wedding is also a popular tradition. The couple wouldn’t wait to consummate their marriage, they’d do it as soon as they said ‘I Do’ so it was used as a distraction as the single ladies fought for the bouquet! Fascinating right?

Wearing of the veil

Originally, brides wore veils to protect them from evil, jealous spirits and to also preserve their modesty. In some cultures, however, it was used to trick the groom into marrying the other sister instead of the one he loved. Also in some cultures, the veil was worn as a sign that the bride was still a virgin. The veil was also used in arranged marriages to hide the identity of the bride until the unveiling at the ceremony.

Origins of honeymoon

The honeymoon in the early days was an escape for the groom with the bride. As noted earlier, the best man would ‘kidnap’ the bride, so the honeymoon then served as a way for the husband to hide the bride for about a month so that her people wouldn’t know where to find her. Nowadays, the honeymoon has become a time where the couple goes to unwind after the stress of wedding planning.

The origin of saving the wedding cake

The tradition of keeping one tier of the wedding cake was done so that the couple could eat it on their first anniversary in commemoration of their wedding. Saving the cake was also linked to having a baby whereby the cake was saved for the firstborn. In the olden days, people assumed that the bride would have a baby within a year thus the tradition.

The origins of wedding rings

The bride’s ring symbolized ownership. In the Greek and Jewish cultures, rings were used as collateral to pay the father of the bride. However, the tradition has since evolved as brides now exchange rings with the grooms as well. The reason the rings are placed on the fourth finger is that the fourth finger is believed to contain a specific vein that leads to the heart. Although physiologists have denounced that, couples still abide by it today.

The origin of the father of the bride walking the bride down the aisle

Back then, during the time of arranged marriages, the giving away of the bride represented the transfer of ownership. Young women were used as collateral to settle debts or disagreement with neighboring tribes as well as for the father to elevate his status by marrying his daughter off to a wealthy family. Nowadays, brides have their father walk them down the aisle to honor them.

The origin of the first look

The concept of it being bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony originated during arranged marriages where it was believed that if the bride and groom saw each other before the big day, they’d have enough time to call off the wedding thus they’d see each other at the altar.

The origin of the first kiss

In the olden days, the priest would customarily give a holy ‘kiss of peace’ to the groom who would then pass the kiss on the bride. This was done to bless the marriage inside of the church, which gave way to the common phrase, “You may now kiss the bride.”

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