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Wedding Traditions, Customs, Superstitions and Symbols...Page 1

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Did you know Queen Victoria and the Victorian era started a lot of our wedding traditions?
The Engagement Ring, The Wedding Band
The Bridal Shower
"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue"
The Wedding Gown, The Veil
The Flowers
The Day of the Week and Month of the Year
The Guest Book
During the Wedding Ceremony:  The Aisle Runner, Left and Right Sides, The Music, The Father Giving Away the Bride, The Kiss, The Unity Candle
The Best Man and Maid of Honor
Wedding Bells
During the Wedding Reception:  The Wedding Cake, Toasting The Newlyweds, The Bouquet and Garter Toss, Jumping The Broom
Throwing Rice, Decorating The Car
The Threshold, The Honeymoon
Superstitions and Symbols For Good Luck On Your Wedding Day
New Orleans Wedding Traditions

wedding tradition about the engagement ringThe Engagement Ring...

The engagement ring symbolizes the promise of a future together.  This promise is sealed with the giving and accepting of a ring.
Giving and receiving of the engagement ring was a Roman 15th century tradition where a man gave his beloved something valuable as a sign of his desire to marry her.  If she accepted his gift, it signified their pledge to be married and was a legally binding transaction.  She wore his ring - signifying she was no longer available.
The custom of proposing on one knee goes back to the days of knighthood and chivalry when it was customary for a knight to dip his knee in a show of servitude to his mistress.
In medieval times, the groom usually had to "pay" the family for the bride's had in marriage.  Precious stones were often included in this "payment" as a symbol of his intent to marry her.
In 860 the Roman Catholic pope (Nicholas I) declared that an engagement ring was required of all those who intended to marry.  If either the man or woman later violated the vow to marry, he/she was excommunicated to a nunnery.
Diamonds are classic and beautiful.  The diamond has emerged as the sign of betrothal because of its clarity and brilliance.  Diamonds were once believed to have protective properties - the light reflected from the bright stones was thought to ward off evil spirits jealous of the couple's happiness.  A Diamond's brightness is a symbol of purity, sincerity, and fidelity, and as one of the hardest substances in the world.
*Click here to see our Sterling Silver Engagement Ring charms*

bridal shower charm cake The Bridal Shower...

The first bridal shower was given to a poor couple in Holland.  They were denied the bridal dowry because of the groom's lowly miller status.  The bride's father disapproved of the young man.  The miller's friends showered the bride with gifts to help them set up housekeeping.
Today, bridal showers are for fun, to strengthen friendships with the bride, give moral support and prepare the bride for her new home.

wedding ring wedding band wedding traditionThe Wedding Band...

The wedding band dates back to 17th century BC Egypt where wedding rings had a supernatural significance, a never-ending band signified eternal love.  The never-ending circle of a wedding band symbolizes eternal love by its lack of a beginning and an end.  This tradition grew out of an ancient tribal custom of using circlets of grass to decorate a bride's wrist and ankles.
Wear your engagement ring in front of your wedding band (the engagement ring is toward the fingernail and the wedding band is toward the knuckle).  Your engagement ring is the "protector" of your wedding band.  This is based on a medieval Italian tradition of the diamond is created from the eternal flames of love.
The significance of wearing the ring on the third finger of the left hand is the early belief that a vein from that finger leads directly to the heart.  A ring on this finger expresses true love.  Another possible explanation why we wear our wedding rings on this finger is: during the 17th century in a Christian wedding, the Priest arrived at the forth finger (counting the thumb) after touching the three fingers on the left hand ' the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost'.
Victorian wedding rings were in the shape of a pansies or forget-me-nots, made of turquoise and diamonds.  Russian wedding rings (still popular today) are a combination of three linked rings, each of a different color gold and believed to represent the Holy Trinity.  Elizabethans wore a version of this called the Gimmal Ring.
Since the 16th century, the Irish Claddagh ring is used as a friendship ring, an engagement ring, or a wedding ring.  A heart (love) is surrounded by clasped hands for friendship and a crown symbolizes eternity.  Other antique styles of rings include French love knots, clinging ivy, scrolls, or Celtic knots.
There is still a sense of superstition bound to the wedding ring - it is a symbol of unity, signifying that wherever you go alone - you will come back to each other again.
Blessing the wedding rings...the blessing honors the cycle of life and the completeness of marriage - from sickness to health, want to plenty, despair to joy, failure to possibility, and loneliness to love.
Carrying the wedding rings on a cushion (the ring bearer pillow) is a long-time Egyptian (as well as Roman) method of carrying precious stones, silver and gold. Pillows are also used in the carrying of the coronation crown to royalty. This tradition has evolved as a symbolic way to prominently present the most precious of gifts.
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"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and a Sixpence in Your Shoe"

something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue wedding day tradition
This well known little rhyme originated during Victorian times and is still commonly practiced for good luck. Traditionally, the "old" would have been the garter of a happily married woman, with the thought being that her good fortune would be passed down along with it. The "old" also signifies the couple's friends will stay with them. The "old" also symbolizes the bride's connection to her past - a sense of family, continuity and tradition.
The "new" looks to the future for the couple - health, happiness, good fortune and success.
"Something borrowed" is usually a much valued item from the bride's family or a dear friend.  It symbolizes prosperity within the new union.  Something borrowed also reminds the bride that family and friends will always be there for her.  Just remember - it must be returned to ensure good fortune.  Borrow something from a happily married friend or family to wish your married life will mirror the happiness in her marriage.
"Something blue" comes from an ancient Israeli tradition in which the bride wears a blue ribbon in her hair as a symbol of her fidelity.  Blue represents faithfulness, fidelity and constancy.
*Take a look at our Something Blue Pearl Anklet to wear on your wedding day*
A silver sixpence in the bride's shoe is to ensure wealth in the couple's life.  It symbolizes the promise of a lifetime of joy, a lifetime of good health, happiness, wealth, fortune, and wedded bliss the newlywed couple.  The sixpence first became known as a lucky coin when introduced by king Edward VI of England in 1551.  It later became part of bridal wedding traditions in the Victorian era.  In 17th century England, the sixpence was part of the bride's dowry gift to the groom.  A sixpence is a symbol of good luck.  The sixpence coin is no longer being minted nor in circulation - the last sixpence was minted under Queen Elizabeth in 1967.
Today, a good luck penny is often substituted for the sixpence.

What's hot in wedding fashion? What are the latest wedding gown trends? Visit the wedding fashion section of! The Wedding Gown...

It is bad luck for the groom to see the gown before the wedding day.
It is bad luck for a bride to make her own wedding gown.  She should never try on her entire outfit before the ceremony (leave something out - maybe even the very last stitch).
"Married in White, you have chosen right
Married in Grey, you will go far away,
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back,
Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in Blue, you will always be true,
Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,
Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,
Married in Brown, you will live in the town,
Married in Pink, you spirit will sink."
The tradition for the bride to wear white began in the beginning of the 16th century as a symbol of the bride's purity and worthiness of her groom.  In 1499, Anne of Brittany wore a white wedding gown to marry Louis XII of France.  Prior to this, most bride wore yellow or red.
Since the early Romans, white has symbolized a joyful celebration.  A white gown also symbolizes purity.  The tradition of the white wedding gown became solidified during the time of Queen Victoria who rebelled against the royal tradition for royal brides to wear silver.  She preferred the symbolism expressed by wearing white.
In biblical times, a blue dress symbolized purity.
A green dress is thought to be unlucky unless the bride is Irish.  The old expression that a woman has a "green gown" was used to imply promiscuity, the green meant she had been rolling in grassy fields with other men.

wedding tradition about the bridal wedding veil The Veil...

One explanation is the veil is a relic of the days when a groom would throw a blanket over the head of the woman of his choice as he captured her and carted her off. Another explanation is during the times of arranged marriages, the bride's face was covered until the groom was committed to her at the ceremony.
The Romans believed jealous evil spirits would cast spells on brides on their wedding days. Brides' faces were covered with veils to ward off the devil and other evil spirits. The veil also kept jealous suitors from glancing upon a bride.
In America the veil became popular when Nelly Curtis married President George Washington's aid, Major Lawrence Lewis. Apparently he became so enamored of her after catching sight of her through a lace curtain, she decided to wear a veil on her wedding day.

If your wedding flowers are calla lilies, check out our calla lily wedding jewelry! Flowers...

The bride's bouquet - During Victorian times, flowers took on additional significance as lovers would send messages to each other using different flowers, each flower having its own meaning.  These associations were soon adopted for the bride's bouquet and are still used today by many brides.
When Queen Victoria wed in 1840, her wedding dress was embroidered with the plants of her realm - the Tudor rose of England, the leek of Wales, the shamrock of Ireland and the thistle of Scotland.  She created an "age of flowers".  Men wore rosebuds tucked in their buttonholes.  Women wore flowers in their hair, tied them to their wrists or pinned them to their collars. They carried them neatly bunched and tied with ribbons inserted in a posy holder.
When the future Queen Mary was a bride in 1873, she carried a "shower bouquet" better known today as the cascading bouquet.  By the late 1880's, loose bunches of one or two kinds of long-stemmed flowers (better known as presentation bouquets) were being carried.  During ancient times, brides carried strong-smelling herbs and spices to ward off evil spirits, ill health and bad luck.
The groom should wear a flower that is part of the bridal bouquet.  This comes from the Medieval tradition of a Knight wearing his Lady's colors as a decoration of his love.
Learn more about the language of flowers.
The Mother's Flowers - a lovely Belgian custom that joins the families together.  The presentation of roses by the bride and groom to their parents symbolizes their affection and appreciation for the love which has brought them to this, their wedding day.
As the bride walks up the aisle, she stops and hands her mother a flower.  During the recessional, the bride gives her mother-in-law a second flower.  As the couple prepares to walk down the aisle as man and wife, they can together present roses to the bride's parents and then to the groom's parents - uniting the families in this joyous celebration.
Other ideas for rose presentations:  grandmothers, children, etc.
A Flower-Strewn Path by Flowergirls - is a lovely English tradition. A bride and her bridesmaids would walk to the church on a path strewn with flowers. It symbolized the wish for the bride's path through life be like "a bed of roses", a life of ease and grace with a sweet and plentiful future.
*We have Calla Lily jewelry and Rose jewelry for your wedding day*
*Read our Wedding Article About Extending Your Wedding Flower Theme Into Your Wedding Jewelry*

wedding tradition about the day of the week and the month of the year you get married in Day of the Week and Month...

Sunday used to be the most popular wedding day because it was the one day most people were free from work.  Today, Saturday is the most popular wedding day (in spite of the rhyme:  "Monday is for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday best of all. Thursday brings crosses, Friday brings losses; but Saturday, no luck at all.").
"Marry in Lent, live to Repent." (Lent was a time for abstinence.)
"Married when the year is new, he'll be loving, kind and true.
When February birds do mate, you wed nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can, joy for Maiden and for Man.
Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you will go.
Those who in July do wed, must labor for their daily bred.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see.
Marry in September's shrine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last."
Ancient Roams believed May was an unlucky month to marry because this is the moth of the "Feast of the Dead."
Do you know why June has traditionally been the most popular wedding month?
During the 15th and 16th centuries, May was the month in which the "annual bath" occurred.  Yes, just as it sounds, back then people were only able to bathe thoroughly once each year.  As such, the over-all population was smelling relatively fresh in June, making it a good time to hold a special event like a wedding!  Furthermore, the month of June is named after the goddess Juno, who was the Roman counterpart to Hera, the goddess of the hearth and home, and patron of wives.

picture of a wedding aisle runner with flowers The Aisle Runner...

In ancient times, Chinese brides were carried to their weddings so the bride's feet would not touch the ground and come in contact with the evil spirits that lurked in the ground. Today, the aisle runner carries on that tradition (the runner also helps to keep the bride's gown clean.) The aisle runner also signifies a pure pathway into happiness.

wedding tradition of the bride on the left and the groom on the right sides Left and Right Sides...

During the marriage ceremony, the bride stands on the left and the groom on the right. The origin of this goes back to the days when a groom would capture his bride by kidnapping her. If the groom had to fight off other men who also wanted her as their bride, he would hold his bride-to-be with his left hand allowing his right hand to be free to use his sword.
The bride's family and guests sit on the left side of the church. The groom's family and guests sit on the right side.
The bride walks down the aisle on the left arm of her father. This also has old origins when men wore their swords on their right side - the right side need to be free in case the men needed to draw their swords and protect those around them.

wedding tradition about the maid of honor and best man The Best Man and Maid of Honor...

It is the best man's duty to protect the groom from bad luck. He must ensure that once the groom begins his journey to the church, he does not return for any reason. He must also arrange for the groom to carry a small good luck charm in his pocket on the wedding day.
When the best man is paying the church minister's fee, he should pay him an odd sum to bring luck to the couple.
Many centuries ago when a man decided upon a wife, he often had to forcefully take her with him (or kidnap her) if her family did not approve of him.  The groom-to-be would sometimes face resistance from her male family members or from competing suitors.  The groom would bring along his "best men" to help him fight for the woman.
While the Groom and his best men were fighting for the bride, she was helped by a group of women to ensure she would be "captured" by the man of her choice.
Why does the wedding party dress alike?
This tradition was started with the hope this would confuse evil spirits.
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wedding music tradition The Wedding March...

In 1858, Victoria, princess of Great Britain wed Prince Frederick William of Prussia. Victoria selected the music for her royal wedding. She was a patron of the arts and selected Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" (from the 1848 opera Lohnegrin) for her entrance - a majestic and moderately paced masterpiece. She selected "Wedding March" (from Mendelssohn's 1843 rendition of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream) - jubilant and upbeat for the newlyweds procession.
Little did she know, this was the beginning of a wedding tradition.

wedding tradition of father giving away bride to groom Giving Away the Bride...

The custom of a bride being given away originated with the "sale" of the bride by the father to the prospective groom. Today, the tradition is considered a sign of the father entrusting his beloved daughter to the care of her husband-to-be.

wedding tradition of kiss the bride, bride and groom wedding kiss The Kiss...

Sealed with a kiss - a sign of affection and a token of bonding. The bride and groom claim each other as theirs forever. The kiss is a symbol of the newlywed's faith, love and respect for each other. This symbol grew from the practice of kissing a lord's ring. In early Roman times, the kiss represented a legal bond that sealed contracts.

wedding tradition of bride and groom lighting unity candle The Unity Candle...

The unity candle is a fairly new tradition. The bride's parents and the groom's parents light separate smaller candles. The flame from these candles light a single large candle by the bride and groom. This gesture symbolizes the individuality of the bride and groom that will stay in tact, parallel with the union with each other during their marriage - family unity. The bride and groom may decide to extinguish the parent's taper candles (or they can opt to leave them lit.)

the wedding tradition of bells ringing Wedding Bells...

The tradition of ringing the church bells as the couple emerge from the church after the ceremony is to ensure their good fortune.  The sound of the bells is supposed to drive away evil spirits.  The sound of bells is supposed to always remind the couple of their vows.
*Click Here to see our Wedding Day Good Luck Wedding Bells Charms*

More Wedding Traditions...

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