Why do we do what we do at Weddings?

A number of wedding traditions and symbols for every culture, country and religion – it seems. To clarify, what binds these seemingly distinct customs from near and far is one simple thing, and which this is LOVE.  Moreover, Everything and Wedding got interested to learn WHY Brides and Grooms adopt certain wedding symbols and traditions. 

Wedding Engagement 

Congratulations! A wedding engagement is a promise to wed as Husband and Wife.  The Romans believed that a circle or ring signifies the endless love and commitment between the Bride and Groom.  In the 1300’s the Groom will have usually given the Bride a nose ring.  The wedding ring is usually worn on the 4th finger of the left hand.  Above all, this is because the 4th finger was believed to be the beginning of the ‘vein of Love’, the vein that leads directly to the heart.

Wedding ring on bride and groom

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids are of the Bride’s party in a wedding.  Traditionally, a Bridesmaid was selected as a young woman, often a close friend or sister to the Bride. They were chosen from unwed young women of marriageable age. The Bridesmaid takes care of the Bride on the day of her Wedding and provides solid support in the preparation of the wedding. The chief Bridesmaid is the Maid of Honour if she is unmarried, or the Matron of Honour if she already is married.  Historically, the Bride and Groom are accompanied by their bridal teams.  This is primarily because no person of status went into public unattended.  In addition, brides gift her bridal team. Get some awesome ideas here: Bridesmaid Gifts

Bridesmaid with Bride

Bride on Display

In Jamaica, the people in the village line up to take a look at the Bride.  If the bride’s dress, style and appearance is not up to scratch – the villagers call out negative comments.  Overall, if the majority of the villagers are negative about the bride’s appearance, then the bride will go home and do a second attempt. 

bride on display

Seeing Your Groom on Your Wedding Day, before the Ceremony

You might have heard that it is bad luck to see your Fiance’ on your wedding day before the ceremony.  Traditionally, many marriages were arranged by the bride and groom families. Therefore the bride and groom were not allowed to see each other before the arranged wedding.

Bride and groom's first look

Scottish Fun

The day before the wedding, Scottish bride and groom are kidnapped by their friends. Their friends cover the bride / groom in molasses, flour, feathers… After that, the bride and groom are then paraded around the town.  Other than being a display of humiliation, this is to ward off unkind spirits. 

groom covered in feathers

Groom smashing glass

The Breaking of the Glass symbolizes the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.  After the Marriage Officiant declares the bride and groom to be husband and wife, s/he invites the couple to seal their promises with a kiss. The groom then kisses the bride and immediately after that, the groom breaks the glass with his right foot. Some couples choose to break the glass together. Importantly, this symbolizes the absolute finality of the marital covenant between newly weds, husband and wife.

Wedding Traditions

Bride and Groom Washing Feet

During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom wash each other’s feet. This is a symbol of devotion and humbleness between husband and wife. Above all, this symbol is derived from Jesus washing His disciples feet.

Groom washing Bride's Feet

Bride circling Groom

During Jewish weddings – when the Bride walks to the altar escorted by her father, then the Bride circles the Groom SEVEN times. The number 7 is generally a number recognised as good fortune in the Juadism faith. It also symbolises the seven days of creation.  The bride also circles her groom to symbolise that he is the center of her world and she is encircling her groom with love and light.  The circling is also said to create a magical wall around the couple – consequently, to ward off any unkind spirits in the rest of their years together. 
bride circling groom at their ceremony

Koumparos

A Koumparos is the groomsman or bestman to a Greek groom.  The koumparos becomes the groom’s barber, so he pulls the razor out and shaves the groom’s face.  Subsequently, after the groom has been freshly shaved, his new mother-in-law will feed him almond nuts and honey. A rather sweet deal. 

Greek groom being shaved by groomsman

Bridal Party Size

The size of the Bridal Party is intended to be fitting to the family’s social status.  On average, the bride’s bridesmaids and groom’s groomsman range from 3-8 people.  However some community groups encourage up to 35 bridesmaid and 35 groomsman.  Likewise, this is 70 people in the bridal team. 

bride with many bridesmaid

Bridal Veil

During the early teen hundreds, the bridal wedding veil was worn to ward off unkind spirits. Some historians say that Ancient Romans were the first to bring the veil into the wedding ceremony, believing the bride may bring with her evil spirits. On the other hand, in contemporary weddings, the bridal veil is worn as a beautiful addition to her outfit, rather than with a purpose. Click here for some stunning Bridal Veil ideas 

Old-fashioned Bridal Veil

Bridal Garter

In the early 1400’s there was a belief that owning a piece of wedding dress would bring good fortune. To sum up, wedding guests would rip off a piece of the Bride’s wedding gown.  The traditional ripping of the wedding dress has since been replaced by the Bride wearing the garter on her upper leg.  Click here to view beautiful garters: Bridal Garters

Wedding photo of a groom looking for his bride's wedding garter

Kissing bride and groom

In Sweden, wedding guests kiss the bride or groom any time their new spouse leaves the wedding reception room. Moreover, this is a symbol that the bride or groom will return to the room – to their spouse. 

wedding guest kissing groom

No Smiling

During the whole ceremony and wedding reception, brides and grooms in Congo are not allowed to smile (at all!).  This is a sign that the couple are taking their marriage and rest of their lives together – seriously. 

Bride and groom no smiling photo

Bulls-eye!

In China, the groom shoots his bride with a bow and headless arrows a few times.  The groom then collects all the arrows and he breaks the arrows during their wedding ceremony. In the same vein, this is a symbol that their love will last forever.  Let’s hope the groom remembers to remove the arrow’s heads.

groom shooting bride with headless arrow

Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed

“Something Olde,Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe” is the traditional phrase for the four good-luck objects. The Bride should carry these good-luck objects with her, or somewhere on her outfit. Firstly, something old characterizes continuity. Secondly, something new offers future optimism. Thirdly, something borrowed symbolizes happiness. Fourth, the blue signifies purity, love and fidelity. And fifth, the sixpence in your shoe is to bring prosperity.

something olde, something borrowed, something blue

Bridal Jewellery

Folklore believed that unkind spirits could enter the body through openings. Therefore, ornaments on the body were said to prevent that.  Hence earrings became the ornament. Bangles signify fertility and prosperity. A necklace symbolizes that the love is alive between Bride and Groom.  Similarly, in India a bride gathers together with those closest to her. They sit together for many hours painting the bride’s skin with henna.  Thereafter the bride is adorned with intricate jewellery. Click here for some beautiful Bridal Jewellery

 Bride wearing wedding jewellery

White Wedding

A white wedding is a tradition from Great Britain. It first became popular because Queen Victoria, during the Victorian era, wore a white lace dress to her wedding.  White also signifies purity of the Bride.
Medieval Bride in White

Tossing the Flower Bouquet

Tossing the bouquet is a tradition introduced from England. The lady guests would try to rip a piece of the Bride’s wedding dress and bouquet of flowers to gain some of her good luck. To escape from the crowd of guests pulling at the bride, the bride would throw her bouquet and run away.
 Bride throwing flower bouquet

Purpose of the Bride’s Flower Bouquet

Flower bouquets are a way for the Bride to express herself.  Roses represent everlasting love, lilac is for first love, Stephanotis are for good luck, ivy says fidelity and the list goes on.  A Bride’s flower bouquet speaks quietly through expressing herself. 

bride flower bouquet

Wedding Gift

Wedding gifts are given to the bride and groom to contribute to kick-starting them off in their new home or married life together.  Guests, if you heed to the mystery of wedding traditions, avoid buying a knife!  According to tradition, a knife symbolises a broken relationship and is considered bad luck to give as a wedding gift. 

wedding gift registry

Wedding Cake

Traditionally, the wedding cake is broken over the bride’s head to pursue fertility and bring prosperity to the couple. Moreover, some guests thought that eating the crumbs of the wedding cake would give them good luck because the wedding cake symbolizes happiness and a blessed and good life to the newlywed couple. In Greek tradition, the Greeks would bake round cakes to honour their goddess of the moon.  Some historians believe that round cakes actually started in Germany, where a candle was supposedly placed on the cake to represent “the light of life”. Nonetheless, wedding cake is a celebration of the bride and groom’s life together.

Groom catching wedding cake

Marry in June 

The month of June derives its name from Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. It was thought that couples who married in the month of June would be blessed with prosperity and happiness.

June bride

No restroom break

In Indonesia, a bride and groom must be confined to their home together for the first three days of their marriage.  The purpose of this practice is to prevent the newlyweds from using the bathroom.  This practice is to attempt to strengthen their bonds of marriage (and possibly their bladders!).

Indonesian wedding

Rain on Your Wedding

Rain on a wedding day means good luck! In some cultures, rain on your wedding day is thought to bring good luck, symbolizing fertility and cleansing.

 bride and groom in the rain on their wedding day

Father of the Bride

In Kenya, when the Maasai bride leaves with her new husband (nonetheless dressed up beautifully) – the Father of the Bride will spit on the bride.  This is a long-standing tradition in Kenya. The purpose of this tradition is to NOT tempt fate by being too supportive of the newlyweds. 

Kenya Wedding

Wedding Confetti

Wedding confetti is a delight, which originated from Italy. Confetti offers the symbolic purpose for guests to throw prosperity and fertility onto the Bride and Groom.

Wedding Confetti

Wedding door games

In China, the bridesmaids challenge the groom on the morning of the wedding.  The bridesmaid put the groom (and some groomsman) through a number of challenges and tests.  The groom has to prove to the bridesmaid that he is the worthy one for the bride.  Thereafter, the groom must pay the bridesmaid with an envelope full of money.  On the other hand, in Russia, the groom should go to the house of his bride’s family.  He either gives her family a whole lot of variety of gifts, or pays a ransom for her.  Then he would dance and sing for her family. 
groom and groomsman dancing

Wedding Doves

In the Phillipines, the bride and groom must release a pair of white doves together. The doves symbolise the harmony in the newlywed’s marriage. One dove must be male, and the second dove a female. This symbolises the fertility in the newlywed’s marriage. 

white doves

The money dance

In Cuba, any wedding guest which dances with the bride or groom – must pin a money note onto the bride’s wedding dress or the groom’s attire. The money then goes towards paying for the newlyweds honeymoon.

bride and groom pinned with money

Bride and Groom saw a log of wood

In Germany tradition, brides and grooms saw a log of wood together.  This is a symbol that the newly married couple are over-comers together and that they will overcome their first obstacle in their lives.

Bride and groom sawing

In concluding, there are thousands of wedding traditions and wedding symbols.  Each driving forward one belief or another.  The applicability of each is totally dependent nowadays on the bride and groom preferences.