The Crazy Reasons Behind Our Wedding Traditions.
Have you ever wondered why we do the things we do? Wonder why we follow certain traditions? Wedding ceremonies are built off old traditions, and even some of the least old-fashioned weddings are still center around old ways …you just might not even realize it.
So do you wanna know some of the origins of typical wedding traditions?
Here are some of the coolest, weirdest and borderline scary reasons behind some parts of your big day.
Rings. Most people know that the wedding ring is worn on the left ring finger because it’s the only finger with the “love vein”, or a vein that runs straight up to the heart. But originally “wedding rings” were woven bands that were worn on ancient Egyptian brides, and they were worn around their wrists and ankles. There’s still debate over whether or not these original wedding rings were actually shackles, since a lot of brides were taken against their will. And as far as traditional wedding rings on the hands, they weren’t worn until somewhere around 1000 BC, to help display “ownership” of the woman.
Flowers. So, like, flowers are obviously pretty and romantic and decorative, but the original reason flowers were used in weddings is actually really gross. Flower arrangements in the olden days utilized spices, herbs and the strongest smelling blooms the bride’s family could find to help mask the odor of the bride. Because most weddings took place in the spring and summer, and hygiene wasn’t really a thing back then or something, most women smelled especially gross when it was hot outside, so bouquets and floral arrangements helped mask it.
Wedding Party. This one’s kind of funny. Way back when, a lot of marriages happened after the groom successfully kidnapped his bride (ah, romance). A groom’s wedding party was actually his own mini army, or the people who would ensure he got away with the girl. And the bridesmaids? They were actually decoy brides ….in case anyone tried to steal the girl back, it would be harder for them to tell which one she was. Yeah. Take it all in. So the original groomsmen were guys that had the groom’s back, just like today, but the bridesmaids consisted of women also on team-groom. My inner feminist is raging.
Veils. The origin of veils isn’t terribly out there, but it is a little comical. Essentially veils were used to keep grooms in arranged marriages from seeing his bride until after they were pronounced man and wife. The kicker is that they used really thick veils, sometimes even almost opaque so that the guy wouldn’t be deterred from marrying her if she wasn’t, you know, nice looking. And if she ended up being a particular breed of hideous, it would be too late for him to do anything at the unveiling part of the ceremony.
Diamonds. We already discussed how wedding rings began, but an engagement ring, specifically one with a diamond, can be chalked up to medieval times when dowries for brides still existed. Rings with precious stones were used to help cover part of that dowry, and the ring was part of the groom’s proof of payment when his betrothed wore it around on her hand. So lets all thank the medieval dudes for getting something right as we stare down at the shiny diamonds we adorn on our left hands. Yes, I can be bought for a diamond.
Rice Tossing. Showering the new couple as they leave their ceremony or reception is definitely one of the oldest traditions out there, but did you know it didn’t start out as rice tossing, per se? Way back in the day it was considered good luck to throw food at the new couple, primarily bread or wheat based products because they signify fertility. When brides got fed up with having food thrown at them on their wedding day (because, obviously) people started switching from tossing food to tossing rice or dried grains …still good luck but less obnoxious. Also, in case you haven’t noticed, most people don’t/shouldn’t throw rice any more because it hurts birdies. So toss-up something else to celebrate after your ceremony.
Honeymoons. Honeymoons are amazing. A solid week or two after you get married to relish in each other’s company and say bye-bye to the stress of wedding planning and hello to your blissful life together. But do you know why they started? It was actually when a newlywed couple would go into hiding together after the wedding, usually for a month, or a moon cycle. This was thought to be enough time for anyone who had objections to the union to calm down and not kill either the bride and groom out of spite. It was also a test of fertility, since one month should be enough time to make a baby. Talk about pressure. Regardless, the couple would retreat into a tent or cave and family members would deliver food and honey mead …hence the term “honeymoon”. Nowadays couple still retreat into “hiding” and let other people cater to them, we just do it on beaches or at fabulous resorts.
White Dresses. A lot of people think that brides wear white dresses because the white fabric signifies purity and virginity, which it does, technically, but that practice was adopted by the church only in the past two hundred years or so. The real reason white wedding dresses became popular was thanks to Queen Victoria in the 1840s, who started the fashion statement with her super glamorous silver and white gown. Before her, brides just wore the nicest dress they had and color was irrelevant. Between her fashion statement and the adaption that white equals virgin, white wedding dresses became a thing.
Bouquet & Garter Toss. Another fun tradition stemming from the barbaric. In less civilized times, part of ancient wedding celebrations included the male guests ripping off pieces of the bride’s attire. It was considered good luck to bring home part of the poor girl’s ensemble, so guests would rip and tear pieces right off of her. A lot of girls ended up next to naked before the party was over, at which point the lucky groom left to go, well, get lucky. Or in more accurate terms, rape his new wife. When weddings became less barbaric down the line, ripping clothes of the bride became taboo, so she would toss her bouquet and garter to help bring good luck to some of the party-goers but be able to leave with her pride in tact.
All in all, there’s a million things about wedding traditions that I bet you didn’t know. Some are funny, some are gross, and some are a little horrifying. Regardless, they’ve all shaped the way we get married today, which I find fascinating, so I hope you’re as entertained by these as I am.
Disclaimer: As a blogger I have the luxury to write and say whatever the eff I please, so take that in to account if you’re using this as a source of research. Everything compiled in this post I learned from Pinterest, other blogs, and miscellaneous articles, in addition to chatter from vendors and brides I’ve worked with along the way. I am NOT a historian in any way shape or form (shocking, I know).
Love, Mrs. Newman