12 Popular Wedding Traditions, what they mean

12 Popular Wedding Traditions, what they mean Reading Time: 6 minutes

What a fabulous week of good weather we are having. If your soaking up the rays, with zero energy these popular wedding traditions are easy reading for you this Thursday afternoon.

Lucky sixpence

Credit: Prenoa Jewellery

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Despite each bride wanting to make their wedding day unique and different, there are some wedding traditions such as wearing a white dress that most will hold on to. But where did these popular wedding traditions come from, and how have they developed over time? Here are some of the most popular wedding traditions and a little story about their origin.

Wedding ring pouch

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1. Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

This wedding tradition dates back to the Roman times when it was the law to have ten witnesses, five men and five women, at your wedding in order to decieve the evil spirits that were thought to try and sabotage happy events. The bridesmaids would dress like the bride, and the groomsmen like the groom so the evil spirits would be confused as to who was getting married.

Lucky sixpence keepsake

2. Wedding Veil

Similarly, the bride wore a wedding veil to protect herself from evil spirits. In Roman times, the bride often wore a floor length veil in flame red. Nowadays the wedding veil is more traditionally white, and is seen as a symbol of purity, chastity and modesty.
In the case of arranged marriages, the veil also acted as a way of masking the bride’s face from her husband-to-be. When he lifted the veil, it would be the first time the married couple had seen each other’s faces.

Traditional Wedding veils

Credit: Love you bride design

3. Confetti

The tradition of throwing confetti started when local seeds or grain were thrown at the newly married couple to represent the future fertility and prosperity of the couple. The type of substance that was thrown varied from country to country, with America using rice and Italy using confectionary, which is where the word confetti came from. Nowadays, this popular wedding custom remains, however, the seeds have been replaced with paper confetti in different colours and shapes.

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Shropshire Petals confetti

Credit: Shropshire Petals

4. Something Old, Something New

This well known wedding custom  originates from this old English rhyme. ‘Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and a Silver Sixpence in your Shoe’. Family members and bridesmaids would give old, new, borrowed and blue items and a sixpence as tokens of good luck to the bride on her wedding day. The something old represents continuity of the past moving to the future, the something new represents optimisim for the future and the new life she is about to share with her husband, something borrowed represents borrowed happiness, something blue represents love, good fortune and fidelity and finally the sixpence in your shoe represents good fortune and prosperity and is traditionally placed in the bride’s left shoe.

Credit: Prenoa Jewellery

5. Throwing of the bouquet.

Traditionally brides would carry garlic, fruit blossoms, herbs and grains in their bouquet to drive away evil spirits and symbolise prosperity. However, over time this has been replaced with flowers, as a sign of happiness that represented fertility and everlasting love. The tradition of throwing the bouquet originated  when it was seen as lucky to get a piece of the bride’s clothing, which often resulted in the wedding dress being torn apart before the end of the wedding celebrations. In order to protect the wedding dress, the idea of throwing the bouquet came about. The bride tosses her bouquet to the single ladies, and the recipient is considered to have good fortune and will be next to wed.

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6. White Wedding Dress

This is a recent tradition that only came about in the late 19th century. Before then, any colour dress was acceptable, with Christians often wearing blue as a sign of truth and purity, and Celtics wearing red to invoke fertility. It was only in 1840 when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in a white wedding dress that it became popular. People saw her wedding dress and thought it was a sign of wealth, class and style, and so the practice caught on.

7.The Wedding Ring

The wedding ring is a neverending circle which is said to represent everlasting love. The wedding ring is traditionally placed on the third finger of the left hand, this began in Roman times as they believed that the vein in that finger is the only one that runs directly to the heart.

Traditional Wedding ring ideas

Credit: Firewhite

8. Giving Away of the Bride

The idea of the father giving away the bride comes from the notion of arranged marriages. The bride was considered the father’s property, so it was his right to give his daughter to the groom, and usually for a price. Although nowadays, the father giving away the bride is seen as him blessing the marriage.

9.Not seeing the groom before the ceremony

There’s nothing quite like the look on the grooms face when he is stood at the alter and he first catches a glimpse of his bride.  Many people still believe in the superstition that it is bad luck to see your other half before the ceremony. And while this originated from arranged marriages, there’s still some romance and excitement in holding off from seeing each other until that WOW moment.

10. Asking the bride’s father for permission to marry. 

While some might think that this is outdated, maybe asking for his blessing would be a better way to go. This tradition shows the brides’ family that you are serious about marrying their daughter and is a sign of respect. Some might say that when you marry a bride, you also marry their family. While it’s true that if the father didn’t give his permission there would be little he could do to stop the wedding from going ahead, it’s still a nice touch to ask for the brides families blessing.

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11. The Wedding Cake

The end of the 19th century was when the wedding cake really became popular. The marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set the fashion for big, white wedding cakes. The multi tiered cakes were originally used only for English Royalty. It was said that the wedding cake should have three tiers, the bottom tier was for the wedding reception, the second tier was distributed amongst guests and the third tier was for the christening, as the wedding and christening events would take place very near to each other.
Nowadays the top tier of the wedding cake is usually used by the bride and groom to celebrate the first year of their marriage.

Engraved wedding cake toppers

Credit: Wedding Pros on Etsy

12. Cutting the Cake

The tradition of the bride and groom cutting the cake is said to symbolise their first joint task of married life. In addition, feeding the cake to one another is said to be a symbol of the commitment the bride and groom are making.
So as you can see, the wedding cake has taken a few twists and turns before we reached the modern, many tiered, elaborate designs of today!

What popular wedding traditions will you uphold on your wedding day?
Have a great week,
Sarah
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