Wedding Traditions

Wedding traditions- answers to your questions:

Bridal Attire

Why does the bride wear a veil?

Ancient history tells us through readings and paintings that brides wore veils to ward off evil spirits. Somewhere along the historical path, it became hats, and our modern day has this tradition as a sign of humility, purity, and modesty. Although today many hold little stock in this tradition as even repeated marriages, the brides wear veils without any regard to a tradition other than brides wear them!

Why does the bride wear white?

Again, ancient history tells us that a bride would always wear her very best dress. White has not always been the color choice. In fact blue, in early history was the preferred color. Around the mid-1800’s when Queen Victories married in white that a fashion trend ensued. White since that time has become the standard for many decades, although many variations of white have been adopted. White was considered to be worn by someone of affluence, as well as purity, and virginity. Of recent, brides are beginning to introduce color back into the gown, or even full color in their wedding gowns. While most still think of white as the traditional color, who knows, maybe blue will become the color of choice in the next decade.

Why something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue? 

No one knows for sure where this tradition was first used, but the meaning has carried through many years. Folklore says that when a bride carries something old it should be from someone who has been happily married for many years and that this will ensure a long and happy marriage. The something new portion of the saying is intended to bring her good fortune into her new life. The something borrowed phrase is supposed to mean borrowed happiness, again bringing luck in a happy marriage. Lastly, the something blue may go as far back as when the color blue was considered the color of choice for brides. At that time in history, it represented the same associations as white does today, modesty and purity.

There has been a new addition that I have seen added to this phrase called a “shiny copper penny in your shoe”. This is intended to bring good fortune to the bride. Although I must say that it has morphed, because when I was married my aunt gave me sixpence for my shoe that was worn by 7 brides earlier, of course, they were still all happily married.

Why does the bride carry flowers?

Even as far back as the Egyptians flowers, jute, and grasses have grown along the Nile played an important role in the belief of fending off evil, happiness, and good luck. Historically flowers have come down through to our modern times to convey messages of good luck, love, innocence, purity, romance, and many other meanings. The bride carrying flowers is due to this tradition for a host of meanings but seldom considered today in fending off evil or bringing good luck. Generally, they are carried because they simply are beautiful!


Why should you toss your bouquet “instead of your money”?

Today’s tradition of tossing the bouquet can be related back historically where the guests would tear a piece of the wedding dress for good luck, or as some would have it, the next to be married. Moreover, today’s tradition of tossing away the bride’s bouquet is a symbol of wishing a single lady the opportunity of good luck and the next to get hitched. Oh, and not to mention her own good luck for saving the bride’s dress!

Why a garter and then toss it?

Similar to the bouquet toss is the tradition of wearing and tossing a garter. In the “olden” days the guests would follow the couple back to where ever they were staying. They would wait for the couple to remove their clothing and the men would steal their “stockings” and throw them at the groom. The first person to hit the lucky target would be the next to marry. Today’s tradition has grown into the garter and taken care of at the reception, to avoid guests following the couple. In essence, the men at the reception get a chance to catch the garter and be the next lucky man to be married. This is certainly a better alternative than guests inviting themselves into your hotel room and waiting for you to undress!

Ceremonial Traditions

Why is a white runner used?

There are two tales as to why a white runner is used for the ceremony. History states that the color white signifies purity and virginity, and the purpose of the runner is that the bride was to remain pure until she was formally hitched to her husband. It was also a gesture of affluence that people of noble stature were accompanied by runners. Although, not proven I believe this goes back to the days of royal affluence when the red carpet was rolled out and morphed in the white “carpet” at royal weddings, again becoming the standard.

Why does the flower girl drop flowers on the runner?

The tradition of dropping rose petals or small flowers on the runner prior to the bride’s entrance is a symbol of a happiness and good fortune in her future. Ancient history tells us that flowers were believed to have great influence in a number of areas. Check the meanings of flowers, and you will understand the intense symbolism of historical meanings for flowers and herbs.

Why is the bride given away?

Hundreds of years ago, brides and grooms had arranged marriages; therefore they were literally given away by their fathers. Today, this meaning has held on but changed slightly in that anyone can give the bride away. Often in certain religions or cases where there is no father, mothers or both father and mother will give the bride away.

Why a wedding ring?

Ancient literature from the Egyptians who revered flowers and greenery began making gifts in either rings or bracelets to their intended. The rings were placed on the third finger of the left hand because it was believed that the vein in this finger ran directly to the heart. See a more detailed document of the history of wedding rings on the link to rings on this site.

Reception Traditions

Why is there a wedding cake?

Although not proven, the symbol of a cake at the reception is thought to be one that brings good luck and fertility. The exchange of the bride and groom feeding each other cake is intended to demonstrate loyalty and devotion to one another.

What is the purpose of the groom’s cake?

The main intent had to do with good fortune and something about a sweet life. Further research is necessary here to gather accurate historical information. I have found conflicting purposes and need to verify.

Why are the bride and groom toasted at the reception?

The purpose of toasting a couple is to send them best wishes. Toasts have historically been associated with large gatherings where not everyone has a chance to speak, so a group gesture with a toast evolved. Toasts are generally done by raising glasses of various beverages with one person articulating the message of fortune, and best wishes.

Why are there wedding favors?

The wedding favor is a gesture of thanks to guests for attending and also thought to be a way of passing on their good luck and happiness.

Leave a Comment