Whether or not you choose to incorporate the many traditional elements we've come to expect at weddings, we've all seen the traditions upheld time and again. Have you ever stopped to think about where those traditions come from and why they are still used today? Here's a little history of the classic wedding rites.
Why wear a veil?
According to tradition, it's bad luck for a bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony. Only more recently did the sheer tulle or net veil come into play. Veils were made from thicker fabric that was harder to see through, and typically fell from the head all the way to the feet. Centuries ago, courtship was basically unheard of, and many marriages were arranged by the families. The veil allowed the bride to stay covered until revealed at the wedding by her groom, who lifted it from her face.
Why carry something blue?
The color blue is a symbol of love, loyalty, and fidelity. In biblical artwork, it is the color worn by the Virgin Mary.
Why throw rice?
Most couples have forgone the tradition of throwing rice at the ceremony's conclusion. Sparklers, bubbles and butterflies, however, don't carry the same meaning as rice did. A customary Oriental tradition, the tossing of rice was a wish that the couple's pantry always be full. It symbolizes a lack of want/need and a prosperous life together.
Why does the bride carry a bouquet of flowers?
Brides first carried herbs and spices down the aisle to ward off evil spirits. Flowers have always had meaning--daisies for innocence, ivy for fidelity, red roses for love, and so on. Traditionally, brides carried flowers with meanings dear to her heart. Today, we choose wedding flowers based on color and style, though the traditional meanings are still often kept in giving flowers for bereavement, friendship, or as congratulations.
Why have a bridal party?
A bride's maids were traditionally the ones who helped her prepare the wedding feast (imagine cooking for your own wedding!). The maid of honor was the one who spent the days leading up to the wedding with the bride, made the wreath for her head, and helped her dress. As old superstitions said that evil spirits or jealous suitors could harm the newlyweds, bridesmaids and groomsmen dressed almost identical to the bride and groom, making it hard to identify which was the couple getting married.
Old, new, borrowed and blue?
A family heirloom connects the bride to her past. Something new symbolizes good luck and prosperity for the future. Something borrowed from a friend or family member reminds the bride that those people are always there for her. The blue stands for love and loyalty, and is often kept close to the bride in the form of a garter, handkerchief, or patch sewn into the gown near her heart.