You’ll probably notice during the hectic times of planning your wedding, that there are so many aspects of the big day that stem from centuries of tradition. But do you know their meaning?
1) White Wedding Dress…and ‘Something Blue’
Let’s start with the basics…why is a white wedding dress considered the bridal colour of choice? Back in the middle ages, blue was considered the colour of ‘purity’ and brides used to wear blue gowns to demonstrate their virginity. Some brides clearly didn’t think blue was their colour though, and so opted for an alternative; just adding a blue ribbon or similar accessory in place of the blue gown. Hence today’s tradition of ‘something blue’!
White gowns didn’t become truly fashionable until the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840 - so you could say Queen Vic was probably the biggest trendsetter!
2) Bridal Bouquet
Aside from being one of the largest expenses of a 21st century wedding (brides spend, on average, 1/10th of their total budget on flowers!), the bridal bouquet has a slightly less flowery meaning behind it. Traditionally, a woman would carry herbs, grains and even garlic down the aisle in a bid to ward off evil spirits! Thankfully, the lingering smell of pizza was left behind as the years passed, leading to flowers symbolising fertility and everlasting love.
3) Positioning of the Groom
Not a custom that is adopted by every bridal party, but traditionally the groom stands to the right of his bride during the marriage ceremony. A well-meaning tradition that probably isn’t quite as relevant these days - this deliberate standpoint is so that the groom could draw his sword using his right hand, should any danger descend upon the proceedings!
4) Father Giving Away The Bride
It’s hard to believe these days that a woman was ever considered less important than a man…thank God things have moved on! The custom of the bride’s father ‘giving her’ to the groom was symbolic that she was no longer in her father’s possession, but now belonged to her new husband. Today, it’s more of a nod to the passing over of the bride’s reliability on her father for guidance and support through life, to her spouse.
5) Best Man
Probably better referred to as ‘wing man’ nowadays! Once the supply of local women had run dry, in German villages the groom would select a male companion to help him search for a suitor in another community. The ‘best man’ for the job would then stand guard with the groom at the wedding; ensuring that the bride wasn’t recaptured by her family!
6) Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
The groomsmen served a similar role to the best man, in fighting off the bride’s family if they attempted to claim her back! Bridesmaids - and the maid or matron of honour - posed a much less violent role: helping the bride dress, decorating the ceremony location and ensuring the bride’s bouquet was ready.
Both sides of the bridal party dressed in a very similar way to the bride and groom - with the bridesmaids wearing white - so that any disruptor to the wedding would be confused as to who was getting married!
7) The Bride’s Garter
Not something many brides would be keen on these days…the bride and groom used to have their guests follow them to their bedroom in order to put them to bed! Guests would fight over the bride’s dress, and so the garter was introduced in order for them to have something else to take! Imagine a rabble fighting over your Enzoani gown - no thanks!
8) The Ring Finger
Have you ever considered why the ring finger is actually the finger we wear our wedding rings on? Out of all bridal traditions, it probably has the sweetest meaning - the Ancient Romans believed that the vein in this finger lead directly to the heart, thus linking the importance of the ring with the couple’s undying love. Aww!
Confetti as we know it isn’t the confetti of old! Traditionally, it was rice and grains that were thrown over the newly married couple to promote good health and fertility. Perhaps some eye-related injuries prompted a change to paper- or flower-based options?!
10) Over The Threshold
Far from being a lazy or tired bride (we know the struggle!), carrying over the threshold stemmed from when the brides were physically taken away to be married, so the groom was required to pick them up! This diversified over the years, and it then became a symbol of demureness to hesitate before entering the bridal suite - the husband then being forced to carry his new bride into the room to ‘seal the deal’!