“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe” – have you ever wondered why we have the wedding traditions we do? Why do brides wear a veil? Why does the bride throw her bouquet? Why does the groom stand on the right? This week, we’re taking a look at wedding traditions and where they originate so that you know exactly what each part of your ceremony means (should you adopt these traditions).
We’ll begin with the run up to the wedding:
Why choose a white wedding dress?
Up until 1840, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, most brides would wear the most expensive dress they owned on their wedding day. After her wedding, Queen Victoria wrote in her diary: ‘I wore a white satin dress with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design, and my jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace and earrings and dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch.’ And with that, the white wedding was born! What a trendsetter…
Why do we follow the rhyme ‘Something Old, Something New…’?
‘Something Old’ represents a bride’s link to her family. Often a bride will wear a piece of family jewellery. ‘Something New’ represents luck for the future. ‘Something Borrowed’ reminds the bride that in times of need, she has the support of her family and this will continue throughout the marriage. ‘Something Blue’ represents the purity of the bride and dates back to biblical times. ‘And A Silver Sixpence In Her Shoe’ is to wish the bride wealth in the future.
Then there’s the ceremony itself:
Why get ‘given away’?
This tradition dates back to the times of arranged marriages, where a bride would be exchanged for a dowry. It symbolises the act of your father (quite literally) handing you over to a new owner!
Why does the groom stand on the right, and the bride stand on the left?
Traditionally, brides had to stand to the left so the groom draw his sword from his right, should anyone try to kidnap his bride! Awww…
Why wear a veil?
The bride’s veil wards off evil spirits. Apparently.
Why wear the ring on the third finger of the left hand?
The ancient Greeks believed that there was a vein that connected this particular finger directly to the heart. Sweet!
Why do we throw confetti?
Confetti has replaced rice or grain more recently. Rice and grain was thrown at the happy couple to bestow prosperity and fertility upon them.
Moving on to the reception:
Why do we have tiered cakes?
In Medieval times, it was customary for wedding guests to bring small cakes and place them in front of the bride and groom, who had to try to kiss over the pile to guarantee their future prosperity.
Why do we give out wedding favours?
European nobility started this trend in the 16th century by handing out cubes of sugar – an expensive and rare delicacy at the time – as a show of wealth and to thank guests for attending.
Why do we have a first dance?
This tradition originates from formal balls where the guests of honour (often royalty or someone distinguished) would lead the first dance. On a wedding day, no matter who attends, the bride and groom should be the guests of honour!
And when it’s all over:
Why is the bride carried over the threshold?
Carrying the bride over the threshold protects her from any evil spirits that may be lurking in the new home.
These are just some of the traditions and superstitions we came across when researching this post. There were others including only getting married when the hands of the clock are pointing upwards towards heaven, how it’s good luck to find a spider in your dress (really?!), and that it is good luck should it rain on your wedding day. Hmmmm…
So which traditions (if any) will you be practicing on your big day? Will you be starting a new one? We’d love to hear about your plans. Let us know below!