We all know ’em and question, where in the world did this start? Why did it start? Why are we still doing this? What does this wedding tradition even mean? Well look no further, we did the research to find out where they started and why they did.
Waiting Until the Altar to See the Bride
Let’s get the big one out of the way. Not seeing the bride before the ceremony. It’s been a tradition around for centuries.
Back when there were arranged marriages this tradition started so that the groom wouldn’t think his bride to be was ugly and run away from her. But we are seeing first looks become way more popular and we are in love with them! There’s something about the private moment between the bride and groom that is so special. All the emotions can come out and no one has to worry about crying in front of everyone. Not to mention the ease of getting photos done prior and not worrying about holding back emotions during the processional and ending up “stone faced”. Plus, who wants to spend the majority of their wedding day without their person? The first look allows you to see each other early on, spend the day together and have way more time for photos! You can find some amazing reactions in our latest wedding recaps.
The Bride on the Left, Groom on the Right
Another tradition from the middle ages that needs to go out the door (if you prefer)! The bride traditionally stood on the left during the ceremony because the grooms kept their sword-fighting right hand open for combat with those trying to rescue the bride, who was often kidnapped before the wedding.
So ladies, if your “best side” is your left side, feel free to stand on the right at the altar!
Starting with the bridesmaids. Nowadays we know and love these ladies as your closet friends. We see Pinterest inspiration on ways to ask them to support the big day and stand up at the altar with you! They help hold your flowers, celebrate you and your engagement, and help you get ready for the big day, so we bring you the tradition behind Bridesmaids.
Bridesmaids nowadays wear similar dresses to each other, usually in the same color family. The dresses typically match the color scheme of the wedding and bring in some pops of color, this was not always the case with bridesmaids though. Originally bridesmaids actually wore similar dresses to the bride. This was to outsmart evil spirits and even confuse her exes that may be trying to sabotage the wedding. Another note, is that in Roman times, bridesmaids would shield the bride on her walk to the grooms village. This acted as a protective shield for her in case of anyone or anything trying to hurt or steal her or her dowry. Thank goodness nowadays you just have to make sure to wear the right color and grab her bouquet before the kiss! Phew!
Ahh the lovely wedding cake anniversary tradition. We know it and glad to have watched it evolve into no longer shoving the cake into your partners face, now we watch the couples share their bite to a cute song and toast to their new marriage. It did not start out that way though…
The tradition nowadays is that the top of the cake is to be set aside and saved for the first anniversary of the marriage. Turns out that this originated from the tradition of saving the cake for the birth of the first child, which was typically expected within the first year of marriage. Crazy to have that kind of pressure!
On that note, the wedding cake served to each other is another tradition that started out a little funky.
It was common for grooms to take a bite of bread at the wedding, crumbling the rest over the bride’s head for good luck. Guests would then scramble around her feet to pick up the crumbs, in order to absorb some of that good luck.
Later, the tradition evolved into the bride pushing pieces of her wedding cake through her ring to the guests (EW, poor ring). Those in attendance would take that piece of cake home to place under their pillows for, again, good luck. Thank goodness for today that we can just enjoy a slice (or two) at the wedding without picking up crumbs off the floor to admire the flavor.
The Best man. He represents the best friend, or brother, or someone the groom has known forever. He stands next to the groom and usually holds the rings. News to us is that he used to have another very important job…
The best man was traditionally put in place to make sure that the bride didn’t escape from the ceremony. Actually the word “best” wasn’t because of the relationship he had with the groom, it was simply because he had to be the strongest and most capable of fighting off anyone who would disrupt the ceremony or to even catch the bride. In some cases when the families didn’t approve of the marriage, the best man would kidnap the bride, some true Romeo and Juliet stuff. Now we understand why we only give them the task of walking down the aisle, holding the rings, and saying a couple nice words at the reception.
Something Borrowed, Something Blue…
We all know it, the tradition of having something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
It’s always been put in place to bring good fortune to the bride. The “something old” is worn to connect the bride to her past and her family and the “something new” is to represent the start of her own new family. The “something borrowed” is supposed to be taken from a happily married couple so that couple’s good fortune could be passed on to the bride. The wild tradition started as having another brides undergarments, this was to help with a good marriage and the fertility for children. The “something blue” is associated with the color representing faithfulness and loyalty in the relationship. Some crazy news that you would wear someone else’s underwear instead of a hand-me-down brooch.
The beautiful, the gorgeous, the bridal bouquets.
Hate to break it to you but these were traditionally put into the brides hands to work as a deodorant, made of herbs and spices to not only mask your body oder but to ward off evil spirits trying to ruin your day. Some of the spices they often used were dill and garlic… not as fresh as garden roses.
Burying the bourbon, this is not as wildly know as some of these others but it’s a southern tradition so, when in Nashville may want to give it a shot… that is if you’re having a backyard wedding.
This is because if you take part in this tradition you are burying a bottle of bourbon at the wedding site one month before the wedding date to ward off rain. Then it gets dug up to join the lineup at the reception. That’s all, that is the tradition, a good luck wish and hopefully no rain at the site they get married at.
The groom carrying the bride over the threshold…
Bottom line is that this traditionally was to help ward evil spirits away from the soles of the brides feet. Yup, you read that right, the soles of the brides feet! Medieval Europeans used to believe that the soles of the brides feet were extremely susceptible to letting evil spirits, so prevent this from happing after the wedding ceremony the groom would carry her over the threshold to help guarantee that no evil spirits entered in through her feet. Just remember that next time you decide to go bare foot at your reception…
So, with all of those said this is just a sliver of some of the traditions we still know and use today. Hope you thought it was as fun to read about as it was to write! Check out any of our wedding recap’s or the latest trends we have seen for 2021!