INSPIRATION - GREEN UNION Partner, Bambi, Shares Their Research into Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions

6th November 2019


The talented wedding day hair and make up team at Bambi bring us a great round-up of wedding traditions and superstitions - how many will you incorporate into your wedding day?


There are many long-standing traditions that couples honour on their wedding day, big and small. But do you know where they come from or what they mean?

With many of us abandoning wedding traditions they are becoming less known or even forgotten entirely. I thought it might be fun to explore some of these ideals and where they come from so you can decide which ones should hold a place in your special day.

Even the Cake was in Tiers!

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Tiered Wedding CakesI think we have all heard a speech with that one in there somewhere. But why is it, always in tiers? It used to be tradition that guests would bring small cakes and place them in front of the couple. They would then kiss over the pile of cakes to guarantee future prosperity. Therefore the traditional wedding cake, as we know it today, is tiered.

The Cutting of the Cake 

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Cutting the CakeA focal point at any reception today. A tradition rooted in history from when the first cut was made by the bride to ensure the marriage would be blessed by children. 

Dressing in White

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - White Wedding DressWe often think of white as having connotations of purity, so that is the main reason why brides would traditionally wear white on their wedding day, but that isn't actually where it started! White is closely linked to wealth (because apparently, only the wealthy could afford to wear it). Brides used to just wear the most expensive dress they owned and it was Queen Victoria who was the first to do so in 1840. From then on, it became fashionable and eventually a tradition. 

Wearing a Veil

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Wearing a VeilThe moment when the bride’s veil is lifted is usually known as the moment when the couple get to share their first kiss as a married couple - if the bride chooses to even put the veil over her face of course.  Most wear one now because when else will we ever get the chance!? And they actually want to see the ceremony they paid for. 

However the tradition of a veil over the brides face was to disguise her from evil spirits that might attempt to ruin the marriage ceremony. Over time, wearing a veil began to take on a new meaning especially in times when wedding were more a business transaction than anything. The bride wearing a veil was to shield her face from her husband so that he didn't back out before the marriage could take place.  Romantic, eh!

Not Seeing Each Other on the Morning of the Wedding

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Not Seeing Each Other Before the CeremonyThis became a thing when weddings were about wealth and not love ... The tradition goes back to the days of arranged marriages, when marriage was more of a business arrangement. The couple weren’t allowed to see each other before the ceremony for fear they’d pull out of the marriage. Today, it’s seen as unlucky to see your other half on the morning of your wedding but since you’re not entering into a business deal (I hope), I'm pretty sure you shouldn’t be worried. Most people now choose not to see their part purely to build up excitement for when they see them at the ceremony, looking so good. Hen and Stag Parties The term “hen party” dates back to the 1800s when it was used to refer to a gathering of women. The idea itself is said to come from Ancient Greek wedding traditions, where wedding celebrations were split into three parts with the first being an all-female feasting dinner. Sounds like my kind of party! Stag dos emerged around a similar time, and are also traditionally Greek. The first ever stag dos supposedly took place in the Ancient Greek city of Sparta, when feasts were held to toast the groom and mark the end of his youth.

Being Given Away by Your Father

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Being Given Away by Your FatherThis is another tradition which dates back to the days when marriage was more of a business arrangement. Brides would quite literally be handed over to “a new owner”, usually in exchange for money. 

It's actually also where being referred to as a 'ball and chain' comes from. Fathers would literally be chained to their daughter, walked down the aisle and then the father would unchain themselves and lock them to their new husband instead, as a symbol of their new ownership.

That all sounds pretty frightful! And thankfully nowadays, it is totally up to the bride who gives them away. It can be a special moment to share with whoever you choose to be there with you in that final moment before you say 'I do'.

Which Day of the Week? 

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Which Day of the Week?Although Saturdays now seem to be the most popular day for getting married, (something to do with a hangover day I've heard?) it hasn't always been that way. There is an old superstitious rhyme that can tell you more...

“Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth,Wednesday’s the best of all. Thursday brings crosses, and Friday losses, but Saturday – no luck at all.”

It was also said that the couple should exchange vows as the clock’s minute hand is “ascending towards heaven” – upwards. You’ve been warned!

4th Finger of the Left Hand 

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - The Fourth Finger of the Left HandThis is said to have come about because the Romans believed there was a vein that goes from this finger, directly to the heart. That's actually quite romantic, even if it is biologically wrong. It's the thought that counts though right?

Bridesmaids

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - BridesmaidsPlanning hen parties and fixing the bride’s veil weren’t always on the bridesmaid’s list of duties. Their most important role was to stand as a distraction to any evil spirits that may wish to harm the bride. Yes, you read that right. Bridesmaids originally were dressed the same as the bride so any lurking evil spirits wishing to ruin the wedding were confused as to who the bride was.

Bride to the Left, Groom to the Right

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Bride on the Left, Groom on the RightThe bride stands to the left of the groom during the wedding ceremony so that the groom can protect her with his left arm and use his sword with the right.

Traditionally, the groom would need to fight anyone who was trying to steal his wife – mostly members of her own family, since it was common for them to think she’d been stolen from them. I'm not sure there are many sword fights at wedding now though...

The best man was picked because he was 'the best' swordsmen, again to protect the bride and groom during the service from anyone trying to steal her. How good is yours with a sword?!

Old, New, Borrowed and Blue ... and a Silver Sixpence in Your Shoe

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Something Old, New, Borrow, Blue, and a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe‘Something old’ is traditionally given to the bride by her family and it represents the bride’s recognition of her family and past.

‘Something new’ is bought for the bride and it represents her entering into marriage with optimism and luck. 

‘Something borrowed’ is something which is loaned by a family member or friend who is happily married. The idea behind this is that the married couple’s happiness will be passed onto the bride.

‘Something blue’ is traditional because blue was said to represent purity in Biblical times.

‘A silver sixpence’ is the last element to this tradition, and although these days most people don’t have a sixpence, they instead sometimes place a coin in the bride’s shoe. The coin represents good fortune and prosperity. 

Carrying a Bouquet

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Carrying a BouquetContrary to popular belief, the bouquet wasn’t traditionally carried down the aisle to look pretty, but to mask the bride’s odour... baths were not really a daily occurrence back then. The scent of fragrant flowers were also used to ward off evil spirits – especially bouquets made of herbs and garlic…  though I'm sure garlic is not what you have in mind for yours? No judgement here though.

Throwing the Bouquet 

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Throwing the BouquetTraditionally, the bride throws her bouquet. It stems from a French 14th century tradition, where the groom would throw the bride’s garter into the crowd. Throwing the bouquet was deemed more civilised so that one stuck around, though some still throw their garter. These days it is said that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to be married.

Confetti 

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Throwing ConfettiTraditionally, rice was thrown at the newly married couple to encourage fertility, but it was the Victorians who first used shredded paper. Which I am sure stings a little less when it hits you. Thank you, Victorians. 

Giving the Guests Favours

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Giving Guests FavoursThe tradition has always been to say thank you to the guests also being seen as good luck to give them. Couples would give a cube of sugar as a sign of wealth and as sugar became more available, the tradition evolved to couples giving each guest five sugar coated almonds to symbolise health, wealth, fertility, happiness and long-life. Still today, the favour is usually a sweet treat. 

Carrying Over the Threshold 

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Carrying Over the ThresholdWe see it in films growing up and think awww how cute, but most of us don't have a clue why the groom carries his bride over the threshold when they first enter their marital home. It is actually because feet were seen as the most vulnerable part of the body to evil spirits and the groom didn't want his new wife bringing in any evil lurkers into his property. How charming! 

It's OK to Cry

Wedding Day Traditions and Superstitions - Having a Good Cry!Crying on your wedding day was seen as good luck and meant that there would be no more tears left for your future marriage. So it's ok to get a little emotional when you see your partner all dressed up. Let it rain! Many couples study the weather forecast during the lead up to their wedding hoping for sun. However, there was a time when wedding day rain was considered good luck. The belief was that rain symbolised fertility and life, and if it rained on the day of your wedding the bride would fall pregnant soon after.

There is another rain tradition that I personally quite like. When you are getting married, you are said to be 'tying the knot'. When it rains on a knotted rope, the knot becomes tighter and much more difficult to break. Therefore symbolising a long and happy marriage.


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