As a wedding photographer it’s fascinating to learn where many wedding traditions we take for granted actually come from, or what they symbolise. Much of the information detailed below is gathered from a variety of sources, including the oral tradition of being handed down from generation to generation, it cannot be guaranteed as factual and is only listed for your enjoyment and interest…
The Victorians first introduced the wearing of the white dress for marriage
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in her shoe…
Something old represents the link with the bride’s family and the past. Many bride’s choose to wear a piece of family jewellery
Something new represents good fortune and success in the bride’s new life
Something borrowed reminds the bride that friends and family will always be there for her when help is needed. Perhaps a lace handkerchief or a piece of jewellery
Something blue symbolises faithfulness and loyalty. Dating back to biblical times when blue represented purity. The bride’s garter is often chosen as the blue item
A silver sixpence in her shoe is to wish the bride wealth, both financial and emotional
History informs us that shoes had specific symbolism and power in particular cultures. The Egyptians exchanged sandals when they exchanged goods. In the past when the father of the bride gave his daughter to the groom, he would also give the brides sandals to show that she now belonged to the groom. This tradition has developed into the tying of shoes to the bumper of the car.
The wearing of the veil was thought to ward off evil spirits, as was the brides bouquet which was originally posies of herbs
Egyptians are thought to have been the first to wear rings on the third finger of the left hand as they believed that the vein in this finger ran straight to the heart
The bride stands on the left of the groom enabling him to draw his sword with his right hand and protect his new wife.
One suggestion is that the expression tying the knot comes from Roman times when the bride wore a girdle that was tied in knots which the groom then had the fun of untying
Confetti symbolises a fruitful marriage and encourages fertility
The horse shoe is considered lucky, warding off evil spirits. One story tells of a blacksmith whom upon recognising his customer as the Devil carried out the shoeing of his hoof so painfully that the Devil begged for mercy and was only let go on the condition that he promised never to enter any dwelling that housed a single horse shoe
The tradition of favours is the giving of guests something to remember the day by. In more modern times it has been the tradition of giving each guest five sugar-coated almonds to symbolise health, wealth, fertility, happiness and long-life
The cutting of the cake ensures a fruitful marriage – saving a piece ensures your husband stays faithful!
The wedding reception can be traced back to medieval times where the groom had to show he could support his wife by giving gifts of food and drink to her family
Wedding gifts were originally gifts of fruits used to encourage fertility
Carrying the bride over the threshold protects her from any evil spirits that may be lurking in the new home
The tradition of the honeymoon can be traced back to the tradition of newlyweds drinking honey mead until the waning of the moon. The moon decreasing in size, moving from the Full Moon towards the New Moon. Lasting approximately two weeks this time was/is used by many traditions to do ‘banishing spells’ sending away and getting rid of things you no longer wish to be burdened by – a time to move from the past to the future getting rid of all things bad.