Weddings are an incredibly beautiful moment for any couple. The point in time when two families become lawfully united as a result of two individuals falling in love is one that will forever be cherished. While weddings have numerous qualities that make them unlike any other event, some of the traditions and superstitions associated with them are quite bizarre.
We are so accustomed to seeing a best man and the tossing of the bouquet as part of the wedding without even thinking of where all that came from. The quirkiness and absurdity of some of these most commonplace wedding antics may leave you asking the following question: How did these wedding traditions and superstitions originate?
Where Did The Traditions And Superstitions Come From?
Four Common Wedding Traditions
1. White Wedding Dresses
The tradition of the bride wearing a white wedding dress is one that is relatively new. For most of history, the bride simply wore the best thing in her closet regardless of its color. There was no specified tradition; the bride only wanted to look as beautiful and wealthy as possible to impress her groom.
Wearing a white wedding dress initially gained traction on February 10, 1840, when Queen Victoria opted to wear a white silk-satin dress for her wedding. The white wedding dress picked up steam a few years later when the Godey’s Lady’s Book suggested that white is an emblem of innocence and the most fitting hue.
2. The Best Man
As with many of the origins on this list, this one is quite creepy. While many assume that the best in the title “Best Man” refers to being the groom’s best friend, it actually refers to his skill level with a sword.
Although there were occasions where the best man would have to use his sword to protect the bride and groom from attacks during weddings (Vikings were huge fans of kidnapping brides), one of the main duties of the best man was to prevent the bride from running away. In some cases, he would even be required to help kidnap the bride and force her into marriage.
3. Bouquet Toss
The bouquet and garter toss is one of the most iconic parts of the wedding, but the reason it became a tradition is quite strange according to today’s standards of decency.
Two things were required for a wedding to be official in the older times: consummation and witnesses. Since most people want the best of everything, many would push and shove their way to get the best view. This led to dangerous situations for the bride. On top of this, wedding-goers tended to want something to remember the event and the most common souvenir was some type of clothing that was ripped from the bride’s dress.
In order to prevent large crowds, the bride would toss her bouquet to distract the rabid wedding guests, giving her enough time to escape. The garter would then be tossed out of a window to prove that the consummation was occurring in a much more private atmosphere.
4. Giving The Bride Away
History was a dark time that led to women being treated unfairly. The father giving his bride away is no different. This heartfelt wedding moment is certainly not what it used to be.
In the past, daughters were considered to be the father’s property and could not wed without his permission. Since they were considered property, daughters were used as a form of currency that could pay off debts, offer peace tributes to tribes and kingdoms, or help move into a higher social status by being married off to a wealthier family for money or land. The next time you tear up as a father walks his baby girl down the aisle, just remember that this came to be because fathers thought they owned their children.
Four Common Wedding Superstitions And Their Origins
1. Not Being Able To See Each Other Before The Wedding
Although this superstition is wading away, it used to be a rule of thumb for every wedding. The most common belief surrounding this rule is that it would prevent bad luck. However, that was not the case in days of old.
The reason the bride and the groom were originally not allowed to see each other before the wedding was because it would give both parties a chance to change their minds. In older times, most weddings were arranged without the bride and groom meeting each other and letting them meet only increased the chance that one of the two would back out.
2. Wearing A Veil
Wearing a veil actually had two benefits. One benefit had good intentions, not so much for the other one.
As with most wedding superstitions, evil spirits and bad luck were always a concern. The bride would wear a veil because this allowed her to disguise herself from the jealous demons that were attempting to ruin her wedding.
The other reason for wearing a veil is similar to the origin of the bride and groom not being allowed to see each other. The veil was designed to hide the bride’s face to prevent the groom from seeing her and potentially thinking she was ugly. An ugly bride might make the groom call off the wedding and that was not something her father wanted.
3. Breaking Glass
Although it is not a common tradition anymore, it still does happen. With this superstition, the bride and the groom shatter a piece of glassware with all of their might, hoping that it will break into as many pieces as possible. The number of broken glass pieces represents the number of years that the couple will last together.
The glass breaking ceremony actually originated as a means of remembering the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem. This ceremony was often only used in Jewish weddings, but the meaning of the broken glass evolved. Now, in addition to the belief in the above paragraph, it also serves as a reminder that dark days often come before bright ones, which is a pretty fitting thought for a wedding.
4. Finding A Spider In Your Wedding Dress
Although this is a scenario that would scare most brides, it’s actually a sign of good luck according to the English culture. The English believe that killing a spider will lead you into financial downfall. They even created the rhyme, “He who would wish to thrive must let spiders run alive.”
The belief that finding a spider in your dress was bad luck never really existed at all. It mainly came from the belief that spiders are scary and having one in your dress is not a fun occurrence. But, if you believe the English, you should be hoping for find one crawling on you during your wedding day, hopefully not though because it is still a scary thought.
Who would have thought that one of the most heartfelt moments in any couple’s life would be filled with such strange and creepy traditions? The good news is that although these were the original reasons behind these wedding day events and beliefs, they no longer happen for the same reasons. So don’t be afraid to have a photo-op with your fiance before your wedding and don’t expect your best man to be handy with a sword.