Wedding traditions differ from country to country, as well as cultures, religion, ethnic groups and social classes. The origins of wedding traditions are most often rooted in superstitions that are enhanced by local folk lore. Here we explore some of the oldest traditions and look at their origins…
The Engagement Ring
Engagement rings symbolizes the vow of togetherness forever – the ring is a circle that stands for eternity. It has no beginning and has no end, just like the vow of marriage of, “till death do us part.”
The engagement ring with the diamond was first used during the medieval times in Italy. The engagement ring with other gem stones is popular during the 18th century through 19th century. Another type of ring used as an engagement ring is the Gimmal Ring which consists of three parts with two hands that are clasped. At the engagement ceremony, the future bride wears one part just like the groom while the third part is given to a witness. The ring is reunited during the day of the wedding to serve as the wedding ring of the bride.
The Bridal Shower
The tradition of giving a bridal shower started in Holland. When the father of the bride refuses to provide a dowry because he does not approve or like the future husband of her daughter, the friends of the bride will then shower her with different gifts to give as dowry so that the wedding will prosper. In modern times, the dowry is no longer observed, but the gift giving for the future bride remains, and is done during bridal shower.
The Bachelor/Stag Party
The Spartan soldiers in the ancient times were the precursors of stag parties. The future groom will feast with his friends – all male – on the night of the wedding. The bachelor party serves as a venue for the future groom to say adieu to the carefree lifestyle of bachelorhood while swearing to continue friendship with his buddies.
Wedding Traditions – White Dress
The first recorded wedding dress that was white was used by Anne of Brittany in 1499 when she married Louis XII from France. Before their wedding, the most popular colors for wedding dress were yellow or red. In the Biblical era, blue was used for the wedding dress since blue symbolizes purity. In other countries such as Japan and China, white was the traditional color of brides because symbolically the brides are mourning about leaving their family to live with the family of their husbands. White is the color for mourning in these countries.
The Wedding Veil
In the olden times, wedding veils which were not white. Ancient Rome had them in red while ancient Greece used the yellow veil, symbolizing the submission of the wife to the husband. The wedding veil also symbolizes innocence, modesty and purity of the bride. Tradition dictates that bad luck befalls when the groom sees the face of the bride before the wedding ceremony. The dominance of the husband is reinforced in the tradition of lifting the wedding veil at the end of the ceremony.
Good Luck Sayings
“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe” is one of the most popular wedding traditions still used today. It has its origin in the Victorian times.
Something old – this part represents the linkage of the family of the bride to the past. Majority of brides use antique jewelry of the family or the wedding gown of the bride’s grandmother or mother. Handkerchiefs were also famous item to symbolize the something old in the saying.
Something new – symbolizes success and good fortune for the new life of the bride. The wedding gown or dress is the most usual item for the something new part.
Something borrowed – this part reminds the bride that no matter what happens, her family and friends will always be at her side. Borrowing something from a woman who is happily married will mean lending the future bride some marital bliss.
Something blue – symbolizes loyalty and faithfulness. The garter of the bride is the most common item to come in blue color.
A silver sixpence in her shoe – symbolizes the wish of wealth for the bride. Some brides still practice this tradition by putting a penny in the shoe at the day of their wedding.
Wedding traditions bridge the gap between the past and the future. In these modern times, they remain as popular and as strong as ever.