If you are planning a wedding, you may be wondering why you have to follow certain traditions. In fact, wedding rituals (PDF) are an integral part of planning your wedding. What is so special about the father giving the bride away, and why is it that brides cover their faces with a veil? These are all valid questions. Sometimes, knowing the answer will help you determine which of these traditions you wish to include in your wedding. Here are some common traditions, and the reasons behind them.
Q: Why do we exchange wedding rings?
A: This is believed to have been one of the first wedding traditions. The circle on the wedding ring represents the never-ending love of the couple. It is placed on the third finger of the left hand because people once believed this finger held a vein that ran directly to the heart.
Q: Why do brides wear veils?
A: The veil was once used as a way to protect the bride from harm, such as from evil spirits that may wish her ill on her wedding day. This is why in years gone by, all brides covered their faces. Today, the veil indicates purity and modesty, and it does not necessarily have to cover the face.
Q: Why is the wedding dress white?
A: White has long been the symbol of purity, but it was not always the color of wedding dresses. In the colonial era, women wore their best dresses to their weddings, and these were probably not often white due to the limited laundry facilities. However, when Queen Victoria was married in a white wedding gown, the tradition fell into place. It was then connected to the idea of purity, such as a pure bride giving herself to her husband. Today's brides often opt for ivory or champagne over white, and many add a splash of color in a sash or other décor to their dress.
Q: Why does the bride carry flowers?
A: The bridal bouquet was once carried to ward off evil spirits, and it contained more than just fragrant and beautiful flower. It also contained herbs and even fresh garlic, and was quite aromatic.
Q: Where did the poem "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue" originate?
A: Traditionally, something old referred to the longevity of the marriage, while something new represented the new life the bride was starting. Borrowing something indicated she was borrowing happiness for her wedding day, while the color blue was associated with modesty and purity, which was perfect for the new bride.
Q: Is there any history of the white runner?
A: Many brides flow down the aisle on a white runner, but why? Why not a red carpet or nothing at all? This runner is a symbol of a pure path to happiness, making it the ideal pathway for a wedding.
Q: Why does the bride's father give her away?
A: In ancient times, marriages were often arranged. The bride was literally given to her groom. Today, parents give away their daughters to show their support for the marriage. Sometimes, when the father is not available, someone who was significant in the bride's life will give her away instead.
Q: What is the origin of the wedding kiss?
A: The wedding kiss seals the wedding and announces the new family to the watching crowd. Almost all modern weddings include this wedding tradition.
Q: What is the symbolic importance of the wedding cake?
A: The wedding cake was seen as a symbol of fertility and luck. Exchanging the cake between the bride and the groom points to sharing this fertility and luck, as well as loyalty between each other.
Q: What are groom's cakes?
A: Groom' cakes are typically darker than the wedding cake and have some significance to the groom, such as decorations depicting his hobby or favorite sport.
Q: Why do we toast the couple at the reception?
A: The toast allows the friends and family of the couple to give their best wishes to the new family. Couples are typically toasted with wine, a symbol of life, love, and plenty.
Q: Why do couples give favors to their guests?
A: In many cultures, brides and groom are considered "lucky" on their wedding day, so anything they touch is also lucky. The gifts are a way of the bride and groom to wish their guests good luck, and also to thank them for coming to their special day.
Q: Why do brides toss their bouquets?
A: In the past, single ladies would tear at the wedding dress of the bride for luck. With gowns costing thousands today, this is no longer a welcome tradition. Instead, the bride tosses her bouquet to the waiting single ladies, allowing her gown to remain safe. The woman who is lucky enough to catch the bouquet is believed to be the next woman to get married.
Q: Why does the groom toss the garter?
A: The garter toss is the male alternative to the bouquet toss. This stems from the tradition in ancient times of the couple's guests actually watching the consummation of the wedding, and taking the garter as proof. Today, guests stay out of the newlyweds' bedroom and simply gather to grab the garter instead, with the lucky guy being the next in line to get married.
Q: Why tie shoes to the couple's car?
Shoes have long been the symbol of a new family unit and the symbol of power. They are tied to the car to represent this. Also, the noise they create is supposed to drive away anyone wishing harm on the new couple.
Q: Why does the groom carry the bride over the threshold of their new home?
A: Traditionally, the threshold of the home was believed to house harm, so carrying the bride over it helps protect her from this harm.
Q: Why do we throw rice at the couple as they leave?
Written By Ava Rose.