Have you ever wondered why the bride walks down the aisle to the groom, or why it became a tradition to toss a bouquet, or for people to clink their glasses together to coax the bride and groom to kiss? Many of the traditions that are still an essential part of a wedding celebration were not as romantic as they've come to be today. Most brides and grooms think of their wedding as an ocassion to celebrate their love with family and friends. What if your wedding wasn't a celebration of love but an exchange of property?
Today I thought it would be fun to take a look at the history of wedding traditions and to see just how far we've come. In ancient times, weddings had a different purpose. A wedding was originally held to bring two families together and to make them richer and more powerful. The romantic and meaningful walk down the aisle used to symbolize the father transferring ownership of his daughter, as well as goods, animals, and land. Luckily for most brides the walk down the aisle has evolved to have a more meaningful purpose and has become more about love than property.
One tradition that's not too far off the mark is having your friends and family attend your wedding. The reason for their presence is to be a witness of your union and to share your joy (of course). In ancient times people often attended weddings for the same reason, having families sit on opposite sides in order to prevent arguments and fights. They were there to witness and make sure your wedding was officially binding by law.
One tradition that makes me chuckle revolves around the wedding party. Listen up brides and grooms! Think carefully when choosing your best man. In case, an epic attack breaks out during your ceremony or someone happens to disagree, your best man was there to help defend and keep you safe. Usually the best man at the wedding was selected as the best man because he was considered the "best swordsman". Brides traditionally stand to the left of the groom because they carried their swords on the right. If she stood on the right it would make it more difficult to draw his sword and to protect her. I mean no one wants to bungle a sword being drawn during your wedding ceremony. Sounds like it's safer to stand on the left!
Don't think the bridesmaids have it easy. They weren't selected because they were the BFF's of the bride. They were carefully hired to do work and help prepare the bride for her wedding. That's right, if you needed your feet scrubbed one of your bridesmaids would have been happy to do that for you. The hired help unlike today's bridesmaids did not walk down the aisle, nor did they get to pick out the color or style of their party dress. Later, bridesmaids were dressed exactly as the bride so that evil spirits didn't know which girl was the bride and wouldn't be able to harm her. Can you imagine? Exactly, the nerve of your bridesmaids showing up in wedding gowns. Who cares about the evil spirits. Your husband and best man have swords for that!
Photo: AFP original link here
Let's talk about the veil. There are so many lovely options when it comes to the veil. It has become an accessory that enhances the wedding gown and contemporary headdress. Do you choose, long or short, lace or tulle? Is it better to have crystals or beads? The veil was originally meant to symbolize purity which came from a tradition where the groom kidnapped the bride. When the bride was kidnapped their faces were covered with a white cloth which has now evolved into the veil. Can you imagine telling your future husband to hold on for a moment just before he kidnaps you so that you could brush your hair, carefully unpack your lovely beaded and lace veil and put it on. Supposedly, if the groom could keep his bride long enough without being found by the family they were basically married. So does that mean when I went on vacation with my fiance without telling my family, that we were married when we got back? OMG! Why did we bother spending all that money? I wish someone had told me before. I would have at least packed my veil.
At this point you're probably thinking this stuff is crazy. Here are a few more traditions that were all based around superstition.
People believed that when the bride and groom kissed for the first time they shared part of their soul.
The wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it's believed there's a vein that runs in that finger directly to the heart. Another belief is that the ring symbolized the bond of marriage.
Spiritual superstition also comes into play with the bridal bouquet and the clinking of the glasses. Before that gorgeous bouquet of flowers delicately wrapped in double satin ribbon there was the satchel of herbs. The herbs were meant to protect the bride from evil spirits. I guess if you're worried about being possesed on your wedding day you can always carry the herb satchel. Who knows, it may come in handy during dinner for that under seasoned salad or entree.
Ever wonder why guests always insist on clinking their glasses with a knife or fork? They're just trying to protect you and ward off evil spirits. It was believed the loud noises kept the evil spirits away and prevented harm to the new marriage. I would have thought the bass coming out of the bands speakers would have been enough!
Ok, here comes the cake! Who wants a piece of cake? While you're enjoying your cake tasting ladies, think about this. The guests at the wedding belived that the bride would become pregnant shortly after the wedding if she was the first person to eat the cake. So when the groom is shoving that delicious piece of chocolate cake you carefully selected down your throat, you know why. He's trying to make sure you ARE the first person to eat the cake. So if you're not ready to have a baby I'd politely tell the groom that you're going to skip the cake and have some fruit instead.
Now you know everything you need to know when planning your wedding. Just kidding! Seriously though, some of these traditions make sense and I can see why they're still incorporated into today's wedding. Although, the meanings may have been lost along the way but are still fun to incorporate into the big day.