LUCK Seeing an
open grave, pig, or lizard on the way to the ceremony, or hearing a crow
after dawn on the morning of the wedding are all thought to be omens of
bad luck. Catching a glimpse of a monk or a nun is also thought to be an
omen of misfortune because of their association with poverty and
Among the Germanic Goths of northern Europe in 200 A.D., a man usually
married a woman from within his own community. However, when there were
fewer women, the prospective bridegroom would capture his bride from a
neighboring village. The bridegroom was accompanied by his strongest
friend (or best friend), who helped him capture his bride.
This term has many origins from different cultures. In Anglo-Saxon
times, the groom had the help of "bridesmen" or "brideknights" to help
him capture and/or escort his bride. Later they would make sure that the
bride got to the church and to the groom's home afterwards. The women
who accompanied and assisted the bride were called "bridesmaids" or "brideswomen".
Bridal showers were meant to strengthen the ties between the bride and
her friends, provide her moral support, and help her prepare for her
marriage. Gift giving at showers dates from the 1890's.
The tradition of bridesmaids dressing the same as each other and in
similar style to the bride comes from ancient days when it was believed
that evil spirits have a more difficult time distinguishing which one is
the bride and putting a hex on her.
In the 1st century B.C. in Rome, the cake was thrown at the bride or
broken over her head as one of the many fertility symbols which then
were a part of the marriage ceremony. Cutting the wedding cake together,
still a predominant ritual at weddings, symbolizes the couple's unity,
their shared future, and their life together as one. The three tiered
cake is believed to have been inspired by the spire of Saint Bride's
Church in London, England.
CARRYING THE BRIDE OVER THE THRESHOLD
Traditionally, the bride had to enter her new home the first time
through the front door. If she tripped or stumbled while entering it was
considered to be very bad luck. Hence, the tradition of the groom
carrying the bride over the threshold.
DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING
The diamond engagement ring originated with King Maximillian who
presented Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring in 1477 as a token of his
Venetians popularized the custom during the 15th. century. Since the
diamond was the hardest and most enduring substance in nature it
followed that the engagement and marriage would endure forever.
As civilizations developed, political, military, and economic ties
became very important to prominent families and clans. Arranged
marriages were a means of cementing ties between families, middle class
family businesses, and countries. A man's daughters, who were considered
to be his property in those days, provided a means of securing needed
alliances with other families. Thus dowries were introduced as a means
attracting and securing the most beneficial family alliances possible.
In 860 A.D., Pope Nicholas I decreed that an engagement ring become a
required statement of nuptial intent. He insisted that engagement rings
had to be made of gold which signified a financial sacrifice on the part
of the prospective husband.
From the earliest times, brides have adorned their hair with flowers and
carried bunches of flowers. Traditionally, each type of flower had a
special meaning and significance in and of itself. Flowers were often
thrown at the couple after the ceremony. However today, most brides pick
their flowers for color and personal appeal not based on the traditional
meaning of particular flowers.
groom's flower, worn on his lapel, usually matches one of the flowers in
his bride's bouquet. This tradition goes back to medieval times when
knights wore the colors of their lady in tournaments.
GARTER AND BRIDAL BOUQUET TOSS
In parts of Europe during the 14th contrary, having a piece of the
bride's clothing was thought to bring good luck. Guests would literally
destroy the brides dress by ripping off pieces of fabric. In order to
prevent this, brides began throwing various items to the guests - the
garter belt being one of the items.
to avoid this problem, it became customary in the 14th century for the
bride to toss her garter to the men. Sometimes the men would get drunk,
become impatient, and try to remove the garter ahead of time. Therefore,
the custom evolved for the groom to remove and toss the garter. With
that change the bride started to toss the bridal bouquet to the unwed
girls of marriageable age. Tradition says that whoever catches the
bouquet shall be the next to marry. She keeps the bouquet to ensure this
Seeing a lamb, frog, spider, black cat, or rainbows on the way to the
ceremony is believed to be a sign of good luck!
The tradition of a "Groom's Cake" comes from England and Ireland. There,
the traditional groom's cake is a fruit cake with white icing. The
groom's cake is usually served along with the traditional wedding cake.
Today groom's cakes are very often chocolate instead of the traditional
After "kidnapping" his bride, the groom would take her and go into
hiding. By the time the bride's family tracked them down them, the bride
would probably already be pregnant! A "bride price" would then be
earlier source is the early Jewish custom of the bride and groom
spending a week together alone immediately after the marriage feast. The
earliest reference to this practice is Jacob's marriages to Leah and
T he kiss dates back to the earliest days of civilization in the Middle
East. A kiss was used as the formal seal to agreements, contracts, etc.
In Ancient Rome a kiss was still being used as the legal bold to seal
contracts. Hence the obvious use of the custom at the end of the wedding
ceremony to "seal" the marriage vows. It also originates from the
earliest times when the couple would actually make love for the first
time under the eyes of half the village!
It was the largest mass wedding in history, when nearly 21,000 couples
from the Moonie cult all got married on the same day. The event was also
'attended' by another 9,800 couples who took their vows via a satellite
Sir Temulji Nariman and his wife Lady Nariman were hitched for a grand
total of 86 years, although they did have a distinct advantage over most
people. Both were aged just five when they got married.
MONTH TO MARRY According
to an old legend, the month in which you marry may have some bearing on
the fate of the marriage:
" Married when the
year is new, he'll be loving, kind and true;
When February birds
do mate, you wed nor dread your fate;
If you wed when
March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know;
Marry in April when
you can, joy for Maiden and for Man;
Marry in the month
of May, and you'll surely rue the day;
Marry when June
roses grow, over land and sea you will go;
Those who in July
do wed, must labour for their daily bred;
Whoever wed in
August be, many a change is sure to see;
September's shrine, your living will be rich and fine;
If in October you
do marry, love will come but riches tarry;
If you wed in bleak
November, only joys will come, remember;
When December snows
fall fast, marry and true love will last".
Of course, it's a sad fact that not all marriages last. But some people
really do seem to make a habit of getting divorced. The person who is
credited with being married the most times is former Baptist minister
Glynn Scotty Wolfe, who has taken on 28 brides - and divorced 27 of
Wedding dresses can make a major dent in your budget, but however much
you spend it will be nothing compared to the outfit created by French
designer Helene Gainville. Estimated to be worth a cool £3.5 million,
the dress is embroidered with diamonds mounted on platinum. Not the sort
of thing you would want to put in the attic after the wedding day.
The oldest recorded bride was Minnie Munro, who got hitched at a
sprightly 102 years of age. Minnie, from Australia, wed a toy boy of 82.
Britain's oldest recorded bride was just one day off her 100th birthday
when she took her vows with a man nearly 20 years her junior. Apparently
the age gap was not thought to be a problem for them.
Playing pranks on the newlywed couple was also a tradition, which began
with the intentions of warding off evil spirits. Loyal friends of the
couple would do this in hopes that the spirits would take pity on the
couple for already being picked upon enough, and would then leave the
Rice has been used as a symbol of fertility and as a wish for a "full
pantry" in various parts of the world from ancient to modern times. In
the past, rice was not the only thing thrown at the bride and groom as
the left the wedding. Wheat, instead of rice, was thrown in France, figs
and dates were thrown in Northern Africa, and a combination of coins,
dried fruit, and candy was thrown in Italy. In some European countries
eggs are thrown!
not harmful to the birds that eat it, but an article in California
professing this to be the case, has caused birdseed to replace rice at
most weddings. Flower petals, confetti, baubles, and balloons are often
used today instead of rice.
Rings were used as currency in the Middle East prior to the advent of
coinage and were a sign of a persons wealth. In ancient times the
wedding ring was thought to protected the bride from "evil spirits".
Ancient Roman wedding rings were made of iron.
Rome a gold band came to symbolize everlasting love and commitment in
marriage. Roman wedding rings were carved with two clasped hands. Very
early rings had a carved key through which a woman was thought to be
able to open her husband's heart.
In 3rd. century Greece the ring finger was the index finger. In India it
was the thumb. The western tradition began with the Greeks who believed
that the third finger was connected directly to the heart by a route
that was called "the vein of love."
In almost half of U.S. weddings either the bride or groom has been
SHOES TO THE CAR
This tradition originated in England during the Tudor period. At that
time, guests would throw shoes at the bride and groom as they left in
their carriage. It was considered good luck if their carriage was hit.
Today, more often than not, it is beverage cans that are tied to a
couples car instead of shoes. It should also be noted that the English
consider it good luck if it rains on their wedding day!
In Sparta, during the height of Greek civilization, soldiers were the
first to hold stag parties. The groom would have a party for his friends
the night before he was to marry. He would bid farewell to his
bachelorhood and pledge his continued allegiance to his comrades.
In early times, for Christians, Sunday was the original day of choice
for weddings because it was not a work day. The Puritan revolution in
England during the 17th century changed all that - because the Puritans
thought it improper to be festive on the Sabbath, Saturday.
SOMETHING "OLD", "NEW", "BORROWED", AND "BLUE"
The tradition of carrying one or more items that are "old", "new",
"borrowed" and "blue" also comes from English. There is an old English
rhyme describing the practice which also mentions a sixpence in the
brides shoe. Something old, signifying continuity, could be a piece of
lace, jewelry, or a grandmother's handkerchief. Something new,
signifying optimism in the future, could be an article of clothing or
the wedding rings. Something borrowed, signifying future happiness,
could be handkerchief from a happily married relative or friend.
Something blue, signifying modesty, fidelity and love, comes from early
Jewish history. In early Biblical times, blue not white symbolized
purity. Both the bride and groom usually wore a band of blue material
around the bottom of their wedding attire, hence the tradition of
"something blue". Originally the sixpence was presented to the bride by
her future husband as a token of his love. Today, very often, it is the
bride's father who places a coin in the brides shoe prior to leaving
home for the church.
TIE THE KNOT"
The term "tie the knot" also goes back Roman times. the bride would wear
a girdle that was tied in many knots which the groom had the "duty" of
is the most popular day for wedding now.
The term originates from the sixteenth century. At that time a small
piece of bread would be placed in a goblet of wine. The goblet would be
passed from guest to guest until it reached the person being honored who
would drain the goblet and eat the morsel of bread in the bottom. This
tradition is practiced at weddings today - usually in the form of one or
more champagne "toasts". The best man has the honor of giving the first
toast. Usually the bride and groom remain seated for the toasts while
all the guests are usually standing to honor them. The couple may then
make a few remarks thanking their families, wedding party members, and
guests. They may also "toast" each other or share a "toast" together.
Often special glass or silver goblets are used by the bride and groom.
The tradition of tying tin cans to the back of the newlywed's vehicle
originated long ago when items which would produce noise were tied to
the back of the couple's carriage to scare away evil spirits.
Brightly colored veils were worn in ancient times in many parts of the
world and were considered a protection against evil spirits Greek and
Roman brides for yellow or red veils (representing fire) to ward off
evil spirits and demons. At one time, Roman brides were completely
covered with a red veil for protection.
European history, with the advent of arranged marriages veils served
another purpose - to prevent the groom from seeing the brides' face till
after the ceremony was over. Brides began to wear opaque yellow veils.
Not only could the groom not see in, the bride could not see out!
Therefore, the father of the bride had to escort her down the aisle and
literally give the bride to the groom.
Custis, the daughter of Martha Washington, is credited with wearing the
first lace veil.
prior to a Jewish wedding ceremony, it is the groom who ritually "veils
the bride". This tradition goes back to the marriage of Jacob to Leah
(the older sister) when he thought he was marrying Rachel (the younger
sister) whom he loved.
WEARING A WEDDING RING
The reason that the engagement ring and wedding band is worn on the
fourth finger of the left hand is because the ancient Egyptians thought
that the "vein of love' ran from this finger directly to the heart.
WEDDING AS A TERM
Although some brides were kidnapped, marriage by purchase was the
preferred method of obtaining a wife. The "bride price" could be land,
social status, political alliances, or cash. The Anglo-Saxon word "wed"
meant that the groom would vow to marry the woman, but it also referred
to the bride price (money or barter) to be paid by the groom to the
bride's father. The root of the word "wedding" literally means to gamble
WHITE WEDDING DRESS AS TRADITION
The tradition for the bride to wear white began in the 16th century and
is still commonly followed today. This is a symbol of the bride's purity
and her worthiness of her groom. The tradition became solidified during
the time of Queen Victoria who rebelled against the royal tradition for
Royal brides to wear silver. Instead, the queen preferred the symbolism,
which is expressed by wearing white. The brides of the time quickly
emulated the queen, and the tradition has continued in full force to
THE BRIDE STANDS TO THE GROOMS LEFT
After the bridegroom captured his bride, he placed her on his left to
protect her, thus freeing his right hand or sword hand against sudden
IT BECAME "BAD LUCK" FOR THE GROOM TO SEE BRIDE BEFORE THE CEREMONY
Until relatively recently, brides were considered the property of their
father. Their futures and husbands were arranged without their consent.
The marriage of an unattractive woman was often arranged with a
prospective groom from another town without either of them having ever
seen their prospective spouse. In more than one instance, when the groom
saw his future wife, usually dressed in white, for the first time on the
day of the wedding, he changed his mind and left the bride at the altar.
To prevent this from happening, it became "bad luck" for the groom to
see the bride on the day of the wedding prior to the ceremony.