I apologize for my lengthy absence from posting any new blog entries. As of late I filled the shoes of bridesmaid and it was a rewarding task indeed! How wonderful to witness the uniting of my friend’s hopes and dreams with her now husband–and what a blessing to have been asked to be a part of a memory she will treasure forever. Weddings are wonderful aren’t they? I look back at my own with a sigh…what an amazing time! Yet what a blur our wedding day was–thank goodness we have pictures to remind us of all that occurred that blessed occasion! My husband and I often comment to one another that our wedding day was like a whirlwind of happiness. We can only clearly remember bits and pieces, otherwise the rest is just a blurp of continual happiness!
Being a part of my friend’s wedding this past weekend, and also participating in the preparations and shower got me thinking: why do we celebrate weddings the way we do these days? What traditions sprouted up years and years ago that morphed into a typical American wedding? I did some research and here’s what I found:
The Bouquet. My friend used fresh flowers while I opted for fake. Centuries ago, a bride’s bouquet consisted of herbs (especially garlic) which were thought to cast off evil spirits. Not only that but the type of herbs selected symbolized specific traits, much like flowers these days.
The Wedding Party. While my husband and I decided on only two in our wedding party (a matron of honor and best man), my friend and her now husband had seven each (including me!). One site states that during the “marriage by capture” era, the wedding party only consisted of friends of the groom whom helped the groom in kidnapping the bride and thwarting off her angry family. Bridesmaids and Maid of Honors became more common when weddings were planned. And apparently the wedding party used to dress in clothing similar to the bride and groom in order to confuse evil spirits or jealous suitors!
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue. While I didn’t intentionally follow this Victorian tradition, my friend faithfully attired herself with the described. The ‘Something Old’ represents a link with the bride’s family and the past. The ‘Something New’ represents good fortune and success in the bride’s new life. The ‘Something Borrowed’ is a reminder to the bride that her family and friends will be there for her when in need. And the ‘Something Blue’ symbolizes faithfulness and loyalty.
Giving Away the Bride. This tradition dates back to ancient times when the bride was considered property and the groom had to present her family with the named price before he was permitted to marry his intended. Thank goodness we’re no longer property but instead princesses on our wedding day! This passing off of the bride could also symbolize the passing of authority. Nowadays, the act of giving away the bride at the beginning of the ceremony is seen more as the parent’s approval of the groom.
Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold. As one site explains, it was considered lady-like for a bride to be, or appear to be, hesitant to “give herself” to her husband. Thus the husband would often have to carry his new bride over the threshold to encourage her to go in!
The Veil. Although most brides today prefer to wear their veil tucked under their curls on the back of their head (like my beautiful friend), there are still girls out there like myself who enjoy the mystery of walking down the aisle with the veil gently shading our faces. I can understand about not wanting your expensive hairdo or stunning makeup job to be messed up, but I even went as far as keeping my veil down until the Pastor told my husband he could kiss the bride! A veil originally represented the bride’s virginity, innocence, and modesty. Veils can even be traced back to Roman times when they covered the bride from head to toe. In some Middle Eastern and Asian cultures where arranged marriages were common, the bride used to wear a veil that covered her face completely, keeping her appearance a mystery for the groom until after they were married! Talk about surprise!
The White Wedding Dress. In ancient times blue, not white, symbolized purity (hence the something blue?). It was the Greeks who initiated white robes to symbolize youth, joy and purity. Yet wedding dresses were not always popular until Anne of Brittany 1499 wore a white gown to symbolize virginity. Since then white, or off-white, are typical wedding dress colors, although pastels are becoming more popular.
Diamond Engagement Rings and the Ring Finger. In medieval times, the groom paid for the bride’s hand in marriage, sometimes with precious stones to symbolize his intent to marry, Although this practice has stopped, the gift of a precious stone has endured the test of time. And the fourth finger of the left hand was chosen because the vein in this finger was once believed to be directly linked to the heart by the ancient Romans. In some European counties, the ring is worn on the left hand before marriage and then moved to the right hand during the ceremony.
The Wedding Cake. My husband’s Grandma made my wedding cakes and let me just say–she is an artist! What a creative lady! But you might be interested to know that the cake was originally not eaten, but thrown at the bride! Man, glad they stopped that whacky tradition! Apparently wheat represented fertility and fruitfulness–and what better way to bless the bride with a full quiver than to throw the cake at her as a symbol! Thank goodness Roman bakers took their trade seriously and put an end to that, instead encouraging guests to nibble on sweet cakes during the ceremony! Ahh shucks…nowadays we have to wait till the bride and groom get the first bite. haha.
Honeymoons. My husband and I were blessed with a wonderful trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon while my friend and her new husband chose to cruise around icebergs in Alaska! Centuries ago, the Teutonic people began the sweet practice of honeymooning since their weddings were only held under a full moon. This meant that after the wedding, the bride and groom would drink honey wine for 30 days (one full moon cycle) and thus came about the title “honey moon”.
Well, there you have it! For more interesting information concerning the history of weddings, visit http://www.brideandgroom.com/wedding-articles/wedding-traditions-2.asp .
Hugs for now!