Why do we have Wedding Traditions?
For centuries human beings have been getting married, and as long as there have been weddings there have been traditions to go with them. But a lot of these traditions were established so long ago that we often don’t remember why we do them – just that they are traditional. Some of these traditions are sweet, others are a bit sad and some are just downright strange – whoever decided the bride should walk around with a sixpence in her shoe has obviously never walked very far in heels. So why do we carry on with them wedding after wedding?
The tradition of the wedding veil.
The tradition of the veil means different things in different cultures, and while some don’t even wear veils, there are two cultures in which they are most prominent. In western culture the veil is a thin piece of material sometimes decorated with beads or embroidery that is worn to hide the brides face. It was often used to hide the beauty of the bride, portray innocence, virginity and ward off evil spirits from the wedding. In other cultures where arranged marriages are more prevalent, the veil held a completely different meaning. It was usually thicker, and was used to completely obscure the brides face during the ceremony. The bride would not be revealed until the groom had committed to the marriage and the ceremony was completed. Only then would the groom be allowed to see the woman he married.
Tossing the Bouquet and Throwing Confetti
The throwing of the bouquet after the ceremony was first introduced in America and quickly spread to the rest of the world. It was a way of celebrating the marriage – and the single friends of the bride would all gather around to catch her bouquet as she threw it behind her. It is said that the lucky lady to catch the bouquet would be the next to be married.
The tradition of the bouquet is fairly well known, but why we throw confetti is a bit different. It doesn’t just look good in photos! Traditionally rice was thrown, but in more modern times preferences of couples and of venues has moved towards confetti, and even more recently towards biodegradable confetti (such as rose petals). The throwing of rice or confetti was initially supposed to symbolise the wishes of the guests for the happy couple, and to encourage fertility.
Seeing The Bride
This is a tradition nearly all first time brides – even more modern ones, still honour. The groom must not see the bride on the day of the wedding until she walks down the aisle, especially if she is wearing the dress. It is thought that it will bring the couple good luck. A little known fact – the tradition also says that the couples luck will double if the groom does not glance at the dress as the bride walks down the aisle. We’re not sure about that one – we don’t know a groom who wouldn’t want to look at his bride as she makes an entrance!
Pearls are something that is seen as a bit ‘old fashioned’ for a bride to wear, but they often appear as part of a theme or incorporated into the dress. To some people, pearls at a wedding represent the future tears of the couple and are seen as a bad sign, while others believe that if the bride wears pearls then she will have a happy and tear free future after her wedding.
Dropping The Wedding Rings
The wedding rings have been a traditional symbol of marriage for centuries, but did you know there is a tradition of dropping the wedding rings at the ceremony? While most couples probably drop the rings out of nerves (with a combination of shaking hands and sweat, is it a surprise?) it was actually seen as one of 2 signs. The first (and more positive) is that dropping the rings during the ceremony is a way to shake out bad spirits from the couple before they marry, letting them start afresh. The less positive interpretation is that the one to drop the rings will be the first to die. So no pressure there!