Whether you know it or not, ancient practices, beliefs and traditions influence many modern behaviors. Modern weddings are rife with meaning, both intentional and unintentional. Many of today’s traditions draw their roots from ancient superstition, from the bride’s apparel to a couple’s wedding day decorum.
Here are 6 of the hidden meanings behind today’s most common wedding traditions:
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Whether its shoes, a blue piece of jewelry, or a hair accessory, brides are rarely seen without something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. These objects serve as good omens for a couple’s happy and prosperous life together.
- Something Old references the bride’s past. Moreover, the item is said to provide protection for the couple’s future children.
- Something New represents optimism in a couple’s future.
- Brides are encouraged to reach out to another happy couple for their Something Borrowed. Traditionally, a bride borrows an item for the wedding, in hopes that their happiness will rub off on her own marriage.
- Something Blue evokes religious ties to the Virgin Mary, while also representing, love, purity and fidelity. Blue was also believed to diffuse any malevolence or ill-will intended for the couple.
Wearing a Veil
The wedding veil dates back to Ancient Rome. The Romans swathed brides in a large flamelike veil called a flammeum. This veil was intended to scare off vindictive spirits. Veils also provided good luck for brides.
White Wedding Dresses
Envision a wedding dress. Chances are it’s white. Although an increasing number of brides are walking down the aisle in colorful gowns, the color white remains synonymous with bridalwear. Nevertheless, white has not always dominated the wedding gown market. Up until the 19th century, brides often wore their nicest garments for their wedding. However, most brides wore dresses they already owned. White fabric was notoriously expensive and difficult to clean, meaning white dresses could only be worn once.
Throughout history, many cultures associated white with mourning. In 1558, Mary Queen of Scots was famously scorned for wearing a white dress to her wedding to the Dauphin of France. When her husband died unexpectedly two years later, Mary was accused of cursing her husband with the white dress.
However, in 1840, Queen Victoria ushered in the white wedding gown. Queen Victoria opted to wear a white dress for her wedding to Prince Albert.
At the time, only wealthy women owned white apparel. Nevertheless, the queens’ wedding inspired countless wealthy brides. With striking white dresses, worn only once, wealthy brides first launched demand for wedding gowns.
Today, the trend has continued to spread as the white wedding dresses have become the new standard bridal apparel.
Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold
Like the invention of the veil, the tradition of carrying a bride over the threshold emerged in an attempt to thwart malicious spirits. Ancient Romans believed that evil spirits could curse a couple by entering a bride through the soles of her feet. To protect the bride, her groom would carry her to safety over the threshold of their new home.
Why Can’t a Groom See a Bride in Her Wedding Dress?
Prior to the birth of romantic marriages, marriages were typically arranged to strengthen political and economic ties.
Brides and grooms rarely met before the wedding in an arranged marriage. Many fathers feared that a face-to-face meeting could deter a potential groom. Instead, couples met DURING the wedding ceremony.
Although modern courtship has evolved dramatically, this tradition persists. It is still considered bad luck for a groom to see his bride in her wedding dress before the start of the ceremony.
The Symbolism of the Engagement Ring
Throughout their long history, engagement rings have come to represent love, as their cyclical shape has no beginning and no end. Rings have represented emotional bonds since Ancient Egypt. However, popularity for engagement rings exploded during the 13th-century when Pope Innocent III required an extended mandatory engagement period for newly engaged couples.
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