We’ve all seen it or done it ourselves haven’t we…… The blushing bride is ready to set off for her big day and great Auntie Betty pipes up, have you got something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
Major meltdown and panic hits the bridal party !!! The whole marriage will be doomed if the bridesmaids can’t find something blue in the next 5 minutes. When a friend of mine got married she proudly wore a blue paper clip on the underskirt of her dress.
So, what do all these myths and traditions actually mean ? We all do them, but do we know why ?
Here’s 10 of our favourite wedding traditions and why we do them.
- Why does the Bride get ‘Given away’ ?
This tradition dates back to the days when marriage was almost a business arrangement. Brides would literally be handed over to the groom’s family by the father of the bride, usually in exchange for money or a dowry. These days it’s up to the bride who, if anybody gives them away.
- Why does the groom stand on the right hand side of the bride ?
The groom will always stand on the right of the bride so that he can protect her with his left arm and use his sword if needed with his right. Tradition says that the groom would need to literally fight anyone who might try and steal his new bride. This was often her own family who would think she has been ‘stolen’ by the groom.
- Why do we have Bridesmaids ?
Traditionally Bridesmaids were dressed in a similar dress to the bride and were meant to confuse and distract any evil spirits if they turned up wanting to spread evil onto the bride. Today though the bride is meant to stand out, but bridesmaids still often dress alike.
- Why do we wear wedding rings on the fourth finger of our left hand ?
Many believe that this tradition started in Roman times. The Romans thought a vein ran straight from the fourth finger on the left hand to the heart. Others believe it began just because the left hand is generally used less and so it’s more practical to wear a ring on the hand.
It is supposedly unlucky for a bride to try on her wedding ring before getting married and if one of the couple should drop a ring in the church they will be the first to die.
- Why are wedding dresses generally white ?
White symbolizes purity, so that is the main reason why brides would traditionally wear white on their wedding day.
Queen Victoria was the first person to wear a white wedding dress, when she married Prince Albert in 1840. Before this, brides would just wear their nicest and most expensive dress on their special day. In her diary Victoria wrote “I wore a white satin dress with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design, and my jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace and earrings and dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch”.
White is also closely linked to wealth, because apparently, only the wealthy could afford to wear it.
- Why does the bride wear a veil ?
The wedding veil hides the bride’s beauty and wards off evil spirits. It is also believed that if it was an arranged marriage the brides face would remain covered until the marriage was legal. Perhaps it was thought he would run off before saying “I do” if he didn’t find her attractive.
- Why do guest throw confetti ?
Traditionally, rice was thrown over the newlyweds to encourage fertility, but then the Victorians started using shredded paper. These days biodegradable options are popular including real rose petals and bubbles.
- Why shouldn’t I wear pearls on my wedding day ?
Tradition says that a bride’s jewellery shouldn’t contain pearls, as they represent tears the bride will shed during the marriage. Crystals and diamonds though, will bring you good fortune because of their purity.
- Why does the groom carry the bride over the threshold ?
Carrying the bride over the threshold protects her from any evil spirits that might be resident in the new home.
And the big one !!
As I mentioned earlier this tradition is deeply rooted in our culture, and many brides include most, if not all in her wedding outfit. So what do they mean? Something old is given to the bride (Traditionally by a happily married woman) to bring success to the marriage; something new represents the future; something borrowed brings happiness; and, something blue stands for fidelity and a long-lasting relationship.
Sometimes the rhyme includes…….A sixpence in her shoe
A coin, traditionally a sixpence, is sewn into the hem of the wedding dress or worn in the bride’s shoe. This is said to bring good luck and good fortune to the happy couple.