Wedding Traditions – Keep or Ditch?
If you’re getting married soon you might be trying to sift through all the ‘shoulds’ and traditions of marriage. What should you keep, and what should you discard? If you’re wondering what the symbolism of various wedding traditions are, here’s the lowdown:
Dressed similarly to the bride, they were used initially to help ward off evil spirits. I guess they’d get confused and either give up or maybe target the wrong woman! So if you’re going in for bridesmaid’s duty, you might end up possessed! Consider yourself warned!
Traditionally, this would have been five daintily wrapped sugared almonds representing longevity, fertility, wealth, health and happiness. I like this symbolism of this. If you don’t know why you have to put a box of humbugs at every single guests place setting, perhaps you shouldn’t bother! Favours are another expense, so if you’re going to do it, we reckon be imaginative, fun or interesting with it. Essentially, they’re just mementos of the day.
Did you know that no rings should be worn for the bride except the engagement ring? It should be worn on the right hand leaving the wedding finger available. The ring can then be moved back to the left hand after the ceremony.
I’m sure we’ve all been there queuing for ages whilst your stomach rumbles away, and the aromas of the meal tease you. A receiving line is designed to make sure every guest is welcomed, but it can be a lot better for your guests, and more personal too, to welcome them at their tables.
Traditionally this should be, from left to right: chief bridesmaid, groom’s dad, bride’s mum, groom, bride, bride’s dad, groom’s mum, best man. You don’t need us to tell you that that arrangement might not be the optimal one for ensuring a pleasant dining experience. Not all people are suited to an hour of chat with eachother, or there may be other tensions to be mindful of. Why not have multiple top tables and arrange yourselves to provide the most fun – after all you’re probably doing that for all your guests. You might even consider just having a table for yourselves.
Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, Silver Sixpence in her Shoe
This dates to Victorian times. Somethings old: represents the bride’s family and her past. New: represents the future and good fortune. Borrowed: To remind the bride that friends and family will be there when times are hard or help required. Blue: Represents faithfulness and fidelity and comes from biblical times when blue represented purity – usually the bride’s garter. Silver sixpence: is to represent wealth and happiness.
Hides the bride’s beauty which is revealed to the groom first and foremost. Wards off those pesky evil spirits too apparently.
Where to Stand
The bride stands on the left and the groom on the right to allow him to swing his sword at marauding bride-theives!
It’s a fertility thing, apparently. Hmm.
Whoever catches it is said to be the next to get married.
Wearing of Pearls
Symbolises tears. There’s conflicting opinions over whether this is bad luck or good. The optimists say they’re supposed to take the place of her real tears so she’ll have no reason to cry throughout her marriage.
Dropping the Ring
Again conflicting opinions, but it’s said to again shake off those pesky evil spirits if dropped, but on the flip side, whoever drops the ring is said to be the first to pop their clogs. Nice.
Originally guests would have brought fruit to encourage fertility.
Carrying the bride over the threshold
Supposedly protects the bride from evil spirits that may be waiting in ambush in the new home. Easily fooled, these spirits.
Originating in ancient Rome, where bread was broken over the bride’s head to bring good luck to the couple. You probably wouldn’t want to that these days after she’s spent hours getting her hair done. In medieval England, the cakes were stacked high for the bride and groom to kiss over. We’re always a bit mystified at people grabbing their cameras to take pictures of the bride and groom cutting it. Apparently, once you’ve cut the cake, it’s a signal to your guests that they could leave your reception – namely the older guests can get the hell out of dodge and go put their feet up somewhere else where there aren’t naked groomsmen streaking through the room. Oh it’s also traditional to save the top tier for your first wedding anniversary/christening of your first child. Tradition says that cutting the cake is the first action the bride and groom perform as a married couple and that they should feed eachother the first slice as a symbol of devotion and care for eachother.
There are probably plenty more but they are likely all intended to ward off evil spirits.
Traditions are important for a number of reasons because they provide some kind of connection to the past and to people who have gone before us. They help link our actions to meaning. Symbols are useful because we’re not great at remembering things and performing particular actions helps us to remember and be reminded of the things they stand for. They can also be fun, or moving.
That said, there are plenty of useless traditions which are based on nonsense too, so sifting through the meanings of various traditions can help you work out what you might like to keep, what you might like to change or what you want to discard.
These days anything goes and you can do whatever you pretty much like with your wedding – and that’s a good thing, but it’s also worth remembering that you’re doing something meaningful and important, and some traditions are a way of anchoring that.
If you’re creating your own traditions, or changing existing ones, the challenge is to do it in a way that is meaningful and not sickeningly cheesy, or just a bit on the tenuous side! Good luck, and watch out for those evil spirits!