Wedding Traditions and Where They Originated

Why does a bride carry a bouquet down the aisle?  Why are wedding cakes tiered? Why are wedding dresses white? There are so many wedding traditions, but most people don’t know where they originated. Personalizing your wedding to make it fit your style and personality is important. Part of the planning process is deciding which wedding traditions you want to keep, and which ones you would rather skip. Whatever you decide, get to know the history behind some of the most common American wedding traditions.

The Dress

Fashion evolves every year, and this includes bridal gowns. Bridal gowns tend to blend and reflect traditions, customs, and current events. Queen Victoria of England popularized white wedding gowns. She wore the first white wedding dress on her wedding day in 1840. After that, the white wedding dress as we know it today became the standard. Now, 182 years later, people still follow her example.

Matching Bridesmaid Dresses

In ancient Rome, matching outfits meant good luck and were a common wedding tradition. People believed evil spirits would attend the wedding and attempt to curse the bride and groom. Bridesmaids acted as decoys by dressing identically to the bride to confuse malevolent spirits. They thought that the spirits would be unsure which one was the bride, and would leave her alone. They believed the matching dress would allow the couple to wed in peace.

The Bouquet

Flower bouquets originated in ancient Greece and Rome. Women carried aromatic bunches of garlic, herbs, and spices to ward off evil spirits. Many people also believed that the natural bundles would help prevent wedding guests from contracting the plague. Brides carrying their favorite flower is a tradition that became popular in 1840. This was because Queen Victoria carried a bouquet of snowdrops when she married Prince Albert. Queen Victoria’s love of the flower influenced coming generations of brides. Today, brides generally select a flower arrangement that holds sentimental value, matches their wedding theme, or is simply beautiful.

Ring on Ring Finger

This traditional western placement of the wedding ring can also be attributed to the Romans. They believed that the fourth finger on the left hand was connected directly to the heart by a vein called “the vein of love.”  For years newlyweds have placed their wedding bands on this finger during their nuptial ceremony. However, this signifier of everlasting love and commitment isn’t the status quo around the world. Other cultures have been documented placing the ring on another finger, or even the other hand. This particular tradition is typically honored in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Something Old, Something New

This English tradition revolves around the items a bride should have in her possession at her wedding. The old English rhyme goes, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.” It was generally believed that these items would bring luck and prosperity to the marriage. “Something old” honors the bride’s ancestry and her past. It also serves as a protective talisman to protect future children and promote fertility. “Something new” offers hope for the newlywed’s future. It’s typically a gift that offers a dose of optimism.  “Something borrowed” is also meant to bring good luck. Traditionally, the bride borrows a small keepsake or jewelry from someone who is happily married. “Something blue” signals love, purity, and fidelity which are some tenants of a healthy and long-lasting marriage. “Sixpence in your shoe” is a token to promote security and stability in your future home with your spouse.

The Wedding Cake

The tradition of a wedding cake dates back to ancient Rome. The guests broke a loaf of bread over the bride’s head to symbolize fertility. The newlyweds would share a few bites while guests would gather up the leftover crumbs for good luck. In medieval England, the bride and groom would try to kiss over a pile of stacked spiced buns, scones, and cookies. This supposedly ensured a prosperous future if they were able to successfully smooch without toppling the whole thing over.  This was a precursor to the tiered wedding cakes of today.

Hidden Creek Events

There are a lot of fun wedding traditions to explore while you plan your wedding. There are also some quirky and crazy options that may just make you giggle. Regardless, of which traditions you choose to uphold or skip our coordinator at Hidden Creek events can help you plan a dazzling and memorable day. We can help you prepare for your wedding, and we offer a romantic wooded getaway to host your storybook wedding. Give us a call or book a visit online to explore our venue further and get more information from our capable and dedicated staff.