When a couple decides to get married, one of the first things that happen is we view our dreams of getting married through the lens of traditional wedding accouterment. I love that word. Anywho, we sit and decide we want all the wedding trappings and want to have all the wedding experiences that we have watched in movies, seen in magazines, and watched our friends enjoy as they have gotten married,
But have you ever stopped to think about why wedding traditions are the way that they are? We’ve all heard the traditional thoughts like virgin brides wear white. And every bride must have an old, new, borrowed, and blue. But have you ever stopped to think whether or not you need those things? And maybe you are better off creating new traditions for your family and your future generations.
Let’s take a look at the history of some persistent wedding traditions.
Wedding dresses have always been a special thing. Most women have always wanted to wear a new dress or a different dress than their regular wear, everyone wanted to wear their best clothing for their wedding. In earlier times, women couldn’t forward multiple dresses, so generally, they wore the best dress that they had. Once we got to a time and place where women owned multiple dresses, wedding dresses became more fashionable and less practical. Wedding dresses have been consistently fashionable for their time, but wedding dresses didn’t become white until Queen. Victoria of England wore a white dress to her wedding in 1840 for the sole purpose of kickstarting her nation’s economy. White lace was the most expensive fabric available and was not a common choice for daily wear.
As a matter of fact, in a lot of cultures color is the norm for a wedding dress. The colors displayed by bright Indian, Thai, Korean, and Chinese weddings are breathtakingly beautiful. US brides are dabbing their toes into more color in these last few years and we love to see it.
Speaking of wedding wear, wedding veils have an interesting story as well. They get their start back when weddings were not a matter of romance, but a matter of finance. Veils used to be black, dark, and heavy, which made it difficult for the bride to see who is at the end of the aisle in for her groom to be to see who was under the veil this was when marriages were arranged, it would bring great shame to your family if you were to run from the altar, once the veil was lifted. This reason slowly kind of morphed into the whole purity of the bride thing, but that’s just marketing.
This certainly doesn’t sound like a tradition that I want to keep up. How about you?
Oh, the fun and light tradition about veils is that they were used to keep evil spirits away from the bride. Which sounds like a much nicer reason to incorporate one into your day.
Being given away
The heaviness of the veil also speaks to why your father had to give you away. Never mind that in medieval times women were considered the property of their fathers, those veils that were heavy and dark or difficult to manage and you couldn’t see 5 feet in front of you, so your father would walk you from your home to the church for your wedding. So there was no chance of the groom seeing you before hand. Its said that occasionally a family would swap their older or lesser attractive daughter and use the heavy dark veil to aid in their slight of hand. Either way the veil would be removed AFTER dad got your dowry from the groom.
Decorating the car.
This is a deviation from a French tradition called charivari, which would have neighbors and friends banging pots, and pans to scare away evil spirits as a couple would leave the ceremony. This sort of evolved into tying cans to the rear, and bumper of the car, and decorating the car.
I always find this one a lot of fun. Back in the olden days, there was no such thing as a deodorant to sort of mask body odor and ward off evil spirits. Bathing happened once a year in May which is why June is a very popular wedding month because you just weren’t that ripe yet Women carried aromatic bunches of herbs and spices and flowers. Well, I know you don’t need this one. I hope you do carry a bouquet, I think they’re lovely.
In researching this article, I did not realize what a serious job bridesmaids’ duties used to be. The groom’s family would kidnap the bride before the wedding and bridesmaids were women who would dress up in the same dress as the bride to deter her kidnapping, then evolved into warding off evil spirits, because there would be too many women for the evil spirit to be able to find the right person to Bestow that on, before it became friends, helping their friend through an important day of her life.
So we can’t exactly be surprised to hear that groomsmen originated as the group of warriors that a groom would employ to help him fight off the warriors that would come to find a bride once her groom had kidnapped her.
And the best man was the best swordsman to help the groom defend himself from any attacks during the ceremony. So how are your partner’s friend’s sword skills?
Evil spirit warding
So many bridal traditions are based on warding off evil spirits like wedding bells and carrying the bride over the threshold. Throwing rice was a symbol of rain, which is supposed to be good luck so they were bringing the rain to their wedding days
Thankfully, wedding cakes are not associated with evil spirits. However, they did use to be associated with Bride losing her virginity. Ladies, does anybody feel like we are getting the short end of the tradition stick here?
Tossing the garter & bouquet
Tossing the garter is also a fun tradition that has a kinda violent background. Previously, the bride was considered a person of good luck so a crowd of people would gather to rip her hair flowers and pieces of her dress. Happily, this tradition turned into tossing the bouquet and tossing the garter. Way less traumatic, right?
Garter tosses in some cultures was also used to confirm the confirmation of your marriage. So after the deed is done the groom with then toss the garter into the crowd to confirm the confirmation of the marriage.
We want you to understand the history of a lot of the traditions that we uphold in the wedding world today so that you can feel comfortable making your own. You shouldn’t feel beholden to any of these traditions for any other reason than you want to do them. Because weddings are now way more about what you want as a couple and less about what tradition calls for regarding business or families you’re not required to do anything except say, I do.
If this hasn’t made you decide that eloping is going to be the thing you want to do. We’d love to talk to you about documenting whatever new traditions you start today.