“Wedding Wednesday” – Wedding Traditions and Customs

Did you know that many of the wedding traditions and customs that we participate in today are many centuries old?   For instance, did you know that the phrase “tie the knot” originated with the Roman practice of the groom’s untying the knots on a girdle worn by the bride?  Another interesting fact – the trend of wearing white for one’s wedding was started by Queen Victoria in 1840.    Learning and incorporating such traditions and customs into wedding preparations is a fun way to recognize the historical importance of the union:


The Bridal Veil Many believe that the wedding veil predates the wedding dress by centuries.  One explanation is that it comes from the days when the groom would throw a blanket over the head of the woman he chose to be his wife!  Another explanation is that the veil comes from arranged marriages where the bride’s face was covered until the marriage ceremony was complete so the groom couldn’t change his mind if he didn’t think she was attractive.  Traditionally, however,  the bridal veil is a symbol of modesty, respect, and virginity. 


The Bridal Bouquet – In ancient societies,  it was believed that strong smelling herbs and spices would drive away evil spirits, bad luck, and ill health, so brides carried a bouquet of herbs and spices.  Elizabethan brides carried such embellishments to mask body odor resulting from the lack of regular bathing habits, partly because of the belief that such cleansing rituals left the body more susceptible to diseases.  During the Victorian era, bouquets were made of flowers so the bride and groom could send secret messages to each other through the meaning of the flowers they carried or wore.


The Wedding March – Traditional marriages feature two wedding marches.  Richard Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” is traditionally played during the processional and Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” is traditionally played during the recessional.  This custom dates back to 1858 when Queen Victoria’s daughter, the Princess of Great Britain, selected those two songs for her wedding. 


The Wedding Cake  Ancient Romans baked a cake made of wheat and barley and broke it over the bride’s head as a symbol of her fertility.  It then became a tradition to place many cakes on top of each other to symbolize the wish for a fruitful union.  As part of the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom kissed over the cakes.  During the reign of King Charles II, it became tradition to turn cake into an edible part of the ceremony, adding sugared icing.  It is interesting to note that in today’s traditions, the wedding cake remains a symbol of fertility. 



Well, I hope you learned something!  I sure did while I was researching!   🙂 

Erin Sharplin Love



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