From the ceremony to the newly-weds, weddings are full of traditions we obey without knowing the reasons why! So here are a few explanations of the most popular traditions I’m regularly asked about;
“Giving the Bride Away” – Much of a traditional ceremony is based on the customs of Ancient Roman times, when marriages were most commonly arranged. The tradition of a bride’s father ‘giving her away’ symbolises the act of him quite literally giving his daughter away to her new owner – usually in exchange for a price or dowry. Not quite as idyllic as now!
The Wedding Ring – The circle of the ring itself is said to symbolise eternity and an unbroken promise of love and commitment between the bride and groom. The circle has no beginning and no end, implying the marriage they share also has no end and is eternal. The tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand derives from Roman traditions again, when there was thought to be a vein directly connecting this finger to the heart, which unfortunately has been scientifically proven wrong, however the romance of this is still upheld today.
Having Bridesmaids – Today, bridesmaids are close friends or family members chosen to help with wedding planning and share ideas with, however the tradition of having bridesmaids is another Roman custom where by the Bride would have 10 witnesses dress identical to her, acting as decoys against evil spirits trying to harm the bride. The lookalikes were also seen as extra protection should a rejected suitor try to kidnap the bride on her way to the temple. Slightly more responsibility than looking after lipstick and aiding in colour schemes!
“Something Old…” – Each part of this traditional rhyme has a wonderful meaning, making the items symbolic and unique to each bride;
- Something Old – creating a link with the bride’s family and her past
- Something New – representing good fortune and success in the brides new life
- Something Borrowed – there to remind the bride that her friends and family will be there for her in times of need
- Something Blue – symbolising faithfulness and loyalty – dating back to biblical times where blue represented purity.
Wedding Favours – Today favours are given to each guests as a memento of the day and are in keeping with the wedding style or theme. Traditionally however, five almonds were wrapped up in a pretty fashion and given to guests, representing fertility, longevity, wealth, happiness and health.
“Wedding Breakfast” – One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “why is it called a wedding breakfast!?” – This is the meal which follows your wedding ceremony and drinks reception, most commonly in the afternoon. Traditionally, however, this meal was held after morning mass, with the whole wedding party fasting beforehand, making it their first meal to break this fast – or breakfast as now commonly known! Today the traditional name remains, symbolising the first meal the newly married bride and groom share together as man and wife.
Tin Cans on Wedding Cars – As the bride and groom make their exit from their wedding venue, often the car is decorated with writing, balloons and most commonly (and noisily) – tin cans! There are various insights into this tradition, however it is thought it first began as a way of protecting the newly-weds and their marriage by warding off any evil spirits, allowing the couple to begin their journey through life together, safely and happily.
If you know of any other traditions that I don’t, I’d love to hear them! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.