There is a lot of weird stuff that takes place at a wedding. Ever stop to wonder why people throw rice, why the cake cutting is such a big deal, or why there is a bouquet toss? Here we try to explain the meaning behind some common wedding traditions.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Ever hear of this popular saying before? A bride is supposed to walk down the aisle in "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue". This saying has been around since Victorian times. The "something old" represents the link to the bride's family and her old life; "something new" represents the couple's new life together and their future hope for happiness, prosperity and success; "something borrowed" from a happily married woman is meant to impart similar happiness to the bride; and "something blue" represents fidelity and constancy.
White Bridal Dresses
Wearing white also dates back to Victorian times when Queen Victoria abandoned the usual royal tradition of wearing a silver gown, instead choosing to wear white. Before that time brides simply wore their best gown, rather than a special bridal gown. The popularity of white can also be attributed to it symbolizing purity and virginity. White was also thought to ward off evil spirits. Here is a traditional rhyme about wedding colors:
Marry in white, you have chosen right
Marry in blue, your lover is true.
Marry in pearl, you'll live in a whirl.
Marry in brown, you'll live out of town.
Marry in red and you will wish yourself dead.
Marry in yellow, you are ashamed of your fellow.
Marry in green, you should be ashamed to be seen.
Marry in pink and your fortunes will sink.
Marry in gray and you will travel far away.
Marry in black, you will wish yourself back.
Showering the couple with rice is an ancient tradition. As rice is considered a "life giving" seed it is thought that by throwing in on the couple they will be bestowed with fertility and have many children. Many churches now forbid throwing rice, so modern couples are opting for bubbles or confetti.
Weddings cakes were a symbol of fertility dating back to Roman times. When a couple cuts their first slice of cake together it symbolizes a fruitful marriage. Centuries ago, the cake was broken over the bride's head while guests scrambled to get pieces that were thought to be lucky. An old wives tale is that unmarried girls should sleep with a piece of wedding cake under their pillow if they wished to dream of their future husband.
Wedding and engagement rings are traditionally worn on the third finger on the left hand. Any other finger is considered unlucky. Egyptians and early Greeks believed that an artery ran from this finger to the heart. The symbol of the circular ring symbolizes unity for lovers.
Some say that wedding veils date back to Roman times to ward off evil sports. Another thought is that during arranged marriages, a bride's face was covered until after the wedding vows in case the groom did not like what he saw and changed his mind.
In Saxon times, Best Men were thought to be partners in crime, helping the groom to kidnap his bride. The role of bridesmaids was to protect the bride from evil and to help her dress when she was at her most vulnerable. Bridesmaid dresses used to mirror the brides dress to confuse the evil spirits so they could not be sure which was the real bride.