There are dozens of traditions that have become staples in most every wedding. From the bouquet to the wedding rings, these staples have not always been the norm. The roots of each wedding tradition vary from simple superstition to deep symbolism. Regardless of what they once meant, these traditions have taken on their own importance in American culture.

The Basics

Wedding Rings: Some historians suggest that the first attempt at, “trying to put a ring on it” stemmed from the early days of man. The archaic grooms would use plaited circles to bind their new Bride’s wrist and ankles to keep her spirit from running off. Egyptians used twine to symbolize that their love had no beginning and no end. Unfortunately, wear and tear would force an end to these rings, so it was the Romans who took the idea a step further and used iron. Italians, who believed diamonds were created from the flames of life, started incorporating the stone into their wedding bands.

Fun fact: Some European cultures wear their ring on the right hand. During the reformation, the placement of your wedding ring was a sign that you were Catholic (left) or Protestant (right).

Bouquet: Holding an arrangement of flowers has not always been a great way to tie the bride’s look into the décor of her wedding. Rather, it was traditionally composed by scent, not by color palette, because they performed two important functions. First, the strong aromas covered up the smell of the wedding party and guests who had not had a chance to bathe in the past few..er… weeks or so. Our ancestors reserved the occasion on a need-be basis – clean water was limited and hygiene was not seen as a high priority. Incorporating strong herbs like thyme and garlic were also used to ward away evil spirits.

Fun fact: In ancient times, the bride was thought to be especially lucky on her wedding day. Guests would want a piece of her luck and would often try to take part of her outfit. So, the bouquet was tossed to keep the bride from getting bombarded.

Bridal Veil: In the time when most marriages were arranged, newlyweds were rarely allowed to see each other. In a time where dowries were so vital to prosperity, the bride’s family would fear a change of heart in the groom based on her appearance. The veil allowed for the father of the bride to wait till the final moment to reveal her.

Fun fact: Some early civilizations like the Greeks and Romans would use yellow or red to convey fire, warding off any evil demons lurking by.

 

I always wonder who came up with that

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”: The combination of these four elements was, like many other traditions, based on the fear of evil spirits. Putting together something to symbolize the continuation of love from another generation (old), the transition into adulthood (new), good fortune from a successful marriage (borrowed), and an image of purity and fidelity (blue), ensured the safety and happiness of the bride.

“Tying the knot”: Literally, a reference to the bridal girdle of the Roman Empire. The undergarment was tied prior to the ceremony (and later untied by the groom to consummate it!).

Tossing rice: Originally, nuts and grains were thrown to show the happy couple that their guests wished them luck and fertility. In years where the harvest didn’t yield a plentiful harvest, rice was substituted.

Popular wedding traditions have roots in centuries of culture and beliefs. Brides have their own interpretation of veils, bouquets, and more. While they differ, the continuation of these traditions allows them to flourish today.

 

We have plenty of ways to make your wedding day special, whether you prefer classic and traditional or chic and modern. Contact us at 773-253-4986 to find out more.

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