We can all agree that there are some very strange wedding traditions. Why do Brides wear veils down the aisle? Why are rings placed on the “ring” finger? Why do we call it “Tying the Knot” when we refer to marriage?
Today we’re going to take a look at where these customs originated!
Bouquet - Wedding bouquets were originally arranged with thyme and garlic, which were used to frighten evil spirits. The aroma was also used to conceal the stink of people who had not bathed.
Bouquet Toss - In ye old days, a Bride was considered extremely lucky on her wedding day. So lucky that her wedding guests would sometimes try to take pieces of her dress to bring home. Thankfully the dress-ripping customs evolved into a bride tossing her bouquet as a souvenir for her guests at the reception.
Bridal Shower - When weddings were once arranged by family members, it was said that a poor Dutchman was in love with a girl whose father refused her a dowry. His friends decided to help out and shower her with plentiful gifts to start a household! Another story occurs around the end of the 19th century; the Bride's friends placed small gifts inside a parasol and opened it over the Bride's head. Literally showered with gifts! Imagine doing that with todays modern gifts? Ouch.
Bridal Veil - Back then, newlyweds were rarely allowed to see the other. It was so rare that the families were afraid that the Groom might be appalled by his Bride's face and refuse the marriage. This began the custom of the Father of the Bride "giving the Bride away" to the Groom at a wedding ceremony and lifting her veil for the Groom to see the Bride for the first time.
Carrying The Bride Over The Threshold - Grooms used to steal Brides and were often forced to carry her kicking and screaming back home to the Groom's tribe. Not exactly a romantic, but this wedding kidnapping grew into a very romantic gesture to welcome the Bride to her new home.
Garter - Before Brides realized bouquets could save their dressed, Brides originally tossed their garters to their guests. Around the 14th century this particular custom changed when Brides grew tired of warding off drunken men who wished to remove her garter themselves. In England, the story evolved from a tradition called "flinging the stocking," where guests would follow the wedding couple to their bedroom (talk about privacy back then!) to steal their discarded stockings and proceed to fling them at the couple. Mega points to the lucky person who could hit the Bride or Groom on the head, marking them the next person to marry.
Ring Finger - Before the 5th century, the ring finger was actually the index finger. It was only later that the third finger was believed to contain a "vein of love" that leds directly to the heart.
Wedding Ring - The original ring was actually tied around the Bride's wrists and ankles to "keep her spirit from running away." Egyptians originated the phrase "without beginning, without end" to describe the wedding ring, but their bands made of hemp and constantly wore out. Romans first used iron, which began the use of gold. Italians were the first to set diamonds on their rings, who believed the stones were forged from the flames of love.
Tossing Rice – For good luck, guests showered newlyweds with nuts and grains to ensure a “bountiful harvest” and many children to work the land. When the harvests were poor, rice was used to be thrown instead. (Oh, and that saying that birds eat the rice and explode? Apparently it’s a myth that came from churches who were tired from cleaning up after weddings!)
Wedding Cake - Wedding cakes were once baked of wheat or barley, which were traditionally broken over the new Bride's head by her Groom as a symbol of fertility. Another tradition was that the newlyweds were made to kiss over the top of their cake; this then became a game where many small cakes were stacked to be as high as possible, the Bride and Groom had to kiss without knocking i over!
Tying The Knot - This saying supposedly originates in Roman empire when the Bride wore a girdle that was tied in knots; the Groom untied the knots prior to the consummation of their marriage. This custom grew to actually tying the couple's hands together as part of the ceremony. They were not allowed to remove it until they had consummated the marriage. Another origin speculation was that illiterate sailors and soldiers of would send a piece of rope to their sweethearts when they wanted to get married. If the rope returned with a knot, it meant yes. Other speculation is from Hindu weddings where a the bride and groom would each tie a necklace of flowers to consummate the marriage.