Unexpected Origins of Popular Wedding Traditions

Bride and groom embracing in a vineyard

Whether your wedding is considered traditional or non-traditional, many today still naturally incorporate certain routines, which may be taken for granted, as something done at a wedding. For example, we wear white dresses, which the Western culture popularized after the 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert. At the time, many brides wore their best gowns or Sunday dresses. History and the times change, as do weddings traditions, and some for great reasons when considering its past.

But wait! Before you read the origins of these traditions, try your hand at our quiz, Fun Wedding Trivia to Stump Just About Everyone, and then come back here to find explanations for each answer.

Honeymoon couple sitting on a swing on the beach at sunset

The Honeymoon

In the old English era, honey mead or honey wine was supplied to the newlyweds for a full cycle of the moon, which this time was supposed to last a month. Many called the first month the sweetest, or the “hony moone.”

On the other hand, if you were Norse, then it could be considered the cool-down period after hiding out with their kidnapped bride while others were trying to find them. They were supplied food and mead for a cycle of the moon, which was how one passed time back then, in hopes the couple would have a child in a year.

The Wedding Toast

Throughout old English history, it was popular to poison your guest’s wine, but if the host offers the toast from the communal wine, clinks goblets, and drinks, then it’s safe to say it’s all good with you and the host. Marriage, in-laws, and the wedding party are safe and accepted by the host.

Want a little more trivia about glass clinking? Early Christians thought it scared away the devil!

Bride throwing the bouquet at a wedding

The Bride’s Bouquet

Tossing the bridal bouquet helped ye olde English bride make a getaway without being attacked for a piece of the wedding dress, her hair, or part of the wedding bouquet!

In the time of old, English townspeople believed in getting good luck, casting off evil spirits, and bad omens. Never good for brides, as they were symbols of good fortune on their wedding days. Darn those uninvited guests! But don’t forget the Best Man, he was the biggest and strongest man who protected the bride!

The Meaning of Bride

The word bride is a Proto-Germanic verb root word that literally meant to cook! This is one meaning meant to be lost in time, enough said.

Many brides these days also use “Ms.” as their new titles, as “Mrs.” literally meant “mister’s”. We may not like this one, but Mrs. sure does look fine and respectable enough, so make your own choice on which you prefer.

Bride putting on earring

Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

The color blue was chosen as the English thought of it as the color or love, fidelity, and purity.

Why something borrowed, old, or new? Again, the old English used to chase down luck-bringing brides for a piece of her dress, hair, and bouquet all due to oodles of evil spirits running amok back then, not to mention all the bad luck, and omens going on. Thankfully, they had superstitions to save the day! Something borrowed? This is borrowed from someone who’d been successfully married. Something old was due to remembrance of family ties and her past. Lastly, something new is because you’re off to a new future, life, and property of a new family.

The First Bachelor Parties

The first bachelor parties were thought to originate when Romans would have a great feast and then go help kidnap a bride for their comrade. Party first, then go get a bride for your friend. Thankfully now, we have better ideals when finding our better half!

Bridal Shower Desserts

Bridal Showers

Bridal showers originated in 16thcentury Netherlands. If a Dutch lady chose a poor man without a decent dowry, her father wouldn’t approve. However, the villagers could bestow household gifts to make up for the dowry, so she was able to choose her man!

No matter where this one started, it’s great when family, friends, and neighbors get together to help new lives get started. Many couples these days opt to have a wedding shower.

What Was Thrown Ancient Wedding Ceremonies?

After the ceremony, Roman grooms would smash a barley cake on their new wife’s heads for fertility. The Romans then showered the couple with wheat to further the fertility luck. These were not very tasty cakes shared by everyone, as that came much later.

By the Middle Ages, it had been replaced with rice, again for fertility, and may have also helped chase off those pesky evil spirits too. So what do you throw if you don’t want kids?

Father removing the bride's veil

Why Bridal Veils?

Bridal veils helped the old English hide and protect brides from evil spirits. It’s always seems to be about those evil spirits! It was also used in arranged marriages where the groom didn’t see what he was getting before the ceremony by tricky future father-in-laws!

Why Do Wedding Ceremonies End with the Kiss?

Romans sealed contractual agreements with a kiss. Once upon a time, it was presumed that the couple did not kiss until after getting married, so they sealed the (marriage) deal with a kiss.

Another fun trivia tidbit comes from the Middle Ages. Many people were illiterate and signed contractual agreements with an “X,” and then kissed it. So now we have “sealed with a kiss!” Some ceremonies don’t end with the kiss, but for those who do, remember your lip balm and pucker up!

Groom carrying the bride

Carrying Brides Over Thresholds

Romans considered it a very bad omen if the bride tripped over the threshold. Romans believed in many types of good and bad omens, and even used symbolic house gods and spirits to ward off all kinds of evils. After the procession to the couple’s new home, the Roman groom would carry his bride over the threshold to make sure she didn’t trip.

On the other hand, we think some of those new kidnapped wives wouldn’t have gone over it too willingly!

First Recorded Wedding Rings

The Egyptians get this one for the traditional a single wedding ring, which were exchanged during a wedding ceremony. Although, it has been found that cavemen would make grasses for all fingers and other parts to keep her spirit under control until she accepted him as her mate.

Your Future Traditions

No matter ones’ beliefs or superstitions, your wedding ceremony today can incorporates whatever you envision, no matter a tradition’s mixed beginnings. Many couples start new traditions while incorporating the past, present, and probable future beliefs. One thing’s for certain, history’s proven that change is good, and we can only imagine the future of wedding ceremonies and traditions.

May your wedding last the test of time and have its own long history!

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