Wedding Traditions

Whether these are fact, fiction, or folk lore, we can't tell you, but what we do know is that these are the only logical explanations than can explain some of the random things we do to honor the age old tradition of marriage. Though the tales may have been passed down through generations like a game of telephone (where the final tale only slightly resembles the original), these traditions will at least give you a good laugh. 

Why do brides wear white dresses?
Early on, brides actually wore any color dress, even black! They usually chose the nicest dress they had in their closet to wear on their wedding day because after all, they didn't have Kleinfeld's back then. It wasn't until Queen Victoria's wedding in 1840 (when she wore a pale white gown) that the white gown became a long standing tradition. 
Christina and Frankie's Wedding
Photo courtesy of mkPhoto
What is the purpose of a veil?
As the tale goes, the veil was used as a way to ward off evil spirits, but it's often now used as a sign of modesty and virginity. It was also used as a way to hide the bride during arranged marriages so that the groom had no way of knowing what the bride looked like until he had no way out and nowhere to run! In Victorian times, the veil length also became an important style status symbol with longer veils signifying royal status. 

Where did bridesmaids originate?
Originally, bridesmaids also wore white or off white dresses. The motive was to have them be along the bride's side throughout the day to trick evil spirits and ex-lovers into being confused as to who the bride was. Maids of Honor back in the day were also in charge of decorating and the planning aspects of the wedding- sort of like a pseudo wedding planner. Now, bridesmaids rarely ever dress similar to the bride as she is supposed to stand out as the most beautiful woman in the room. 
Amy and Sean's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Leave It To Me Photography
Where did the "best man" come from?
What more do you need in a best man than to help you steal your wife from her family? Back in the day, the best man was chosen mainly by his sword skills to help the groom in case he needed to steal a woman and take her as his bride. Looks like best men these days have it pretty easy. 

Why do brides carry wedding bouquets?
Although the first bouquets were mostly filled with herbs and plants, often even garlic and dill, flowers began to be incorporated for not only their smell, but also as a sign of fertility. 
Sherrie and Howard's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Scott Lewis Images
Where did tossing the bouquet come from?
Tossing the bouquet is said to have developed in England and France. It all began right after the marriage, when the newlyweds would have to consummate their vows. Of course in those days nothing was real unless their were witnesses, so many wedding guests would crowd around to, well, watch. During this time, female guests at the wedding would try to rip off pieces of the bride's dress to steal some of her good fortune. Eventually it was decided that the bride would throw her bouquet to send the women out of the room, so that her husband could easily take a piece of her wedding dress off and throw it out of the room to the men, giving the couple the privacy they wanted. 

Why do wedding cakes have tiers?
In Anglo-Saxon England, guests would bring their own small cakes to the wedding and stack them. Eventually a French baker created his own pre-tiered cake and it stuck ever since. Often times guests were also told to take their pieces of cake home and put it under their pillow for even more good luck or at least some "sweet" dreams. 
Kate and Mike's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Cliff Mautner Photography
Why do you save the top tier of the wedding cake?
Originally it was saved to be used for the celebration of the birth of the couple's first child (usually within the first year of marriage). That was, well, in the days when marriage was simply used as a means to procreating. Now, many couples use the top tier of their cake to celebrate first wedding anniversary since they often wait a few years to begin having children. 

Why does a bride stand to the left of the her groom?
Back in ancient, grooms carried their swords on their right side so they could easily grab their sword and fight with their right hand. Just in case any danger loomed on their wedding day, the bride stood to the left of her groom so that his right arm was free to grab his sword to defend his bride if need be. 
Shani and Eric's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Feehly Photography
Where did tin cans on the getaway car come from?
This practice originated in France though it sustained up until the early 20th century in America and then transformed in the tin can tradition on the back of the getaway car. The tradition, which was called shiravee, occurred when an outsider from another community took a local girl as his wife- leaving the local men one more woman down. In order for the outsider to pay his dues, he had to offer the town a late night snack. You knew they were ready when they came banging with their pots and pans. Though tin cans on a car isn't quite the same, it's interesting that they groom's male friends take care of that task which represents their lost chance at the bride to be. 

How did the "ring finger" come about?
The ring finger was established during the Roman Empire. It was believed that the vein in the ring finger led straight to the heart, emphasizing everlasting love. 
Annemarie and Jimmy's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Childress Photography
Why do we call it a honeymoon?
In Nordic and Irish tradition, a bride and groom would go into hiding for 30 days after their marriage. Throughout their time in hiding their friends and family members would stop by with a cup of honey wine and 30 days of honey wine, made for a honeymoon. 


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