Today's popular wedding traditions have evolved over hundreds, even thousands of years of people joining together in some form of matrimony. Some wedding traditions that have endured are based on blessing the couple with good luck; others are a means for the couple to convey their feelings for one another. Regardless of the wedding tradition itself, all wedding traditions share the same essential symbols of unity, happiness and prosperity; messages that stand the test of time.
Old, New, Borrowed, Blue
The saying, "Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” is a popular rhyme that has been used since Victorian times. The "something old" represents the bond 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 wedding dress . The popularity of white can also be attributed to it symbolizing purity and virginity. White was also thought to ward off evil spirits.
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 it on their property but there are some safe alternatives to throwing rice such as blowing bubbles.
First Piece of Wedding Cake
Sharing the first piece of wedding cake is a wedding tradition with Roman roots. The Romans believed that by eating the wedding cake together a special bond was created between the couple. The wheat used to bake the cake was symbolic of fertility and a "fruitful union", while the cake's sweetness was thought to bring sweetness to all areas of the couple's new life.
The ceremonial kiss that concludes the wedding ceremony is said to represent the couple sharing and joining their souls. In Roman times the kiss "sealed" the couple's agreement to join in a life-long commitment.
The wedding tradition of the groom wearing a boutonniere originates in medieval times when a knight wore his lady's colors (through flowers) as a statement of his love.
Flowers and bouquets have long been used in weddings. In addition to adorning the bride with flowers to promote good luck and good health flower meanings allow the bride to express her feelings for the groom. Orange blossoms signify purity, daisies loyalty, violets modesty and red roses signify true love.
Wedding Ring on Third Finger
Placing the wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand has two possible origins; ancient Egypt or 17th century Europe. The Egyptians believed the "vein of love" ran directly from the ring finger to the heart, therefore the ring was placed there to denote eternal love. During a 17th century wedding ceremony the groom would slide the wedding ring part way up the bride's thumb, index finger and middle finger as the priest said "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit". As the ring finger was the first free finger, the ring was placed there.