When attending a wedding, we all know generally what to expect, but we rarely know why it became a practice in the first place. In any other context, throwing rice at someone or carrying someone through a doorway would just be strange. Here are origins of seven wedding traditions that explain why we do what we do at weddings.
The White Dress
A white wedding dress may be one of the most recognized wedding traditions, but surprisingly, it was not established until the nineteenth century. In 1840, Queen Victoria started this new trend when she married Prince Albert in a white dress.
Throwing rice at newlyweds was not a practice that people developed to frustrate tidy ministers. Traditionally, people showered the couple with rice as a symbol of fertility, wishing them abundant harvests and many kids to help with those harvests.
The Wedding Ring
Have you ever wondered why we wear engagement and wedding rings on the fourth finger of our left hand when we have nine other options? The answer is surprisingly romantic, if of questionable and unscientific origin. Ancient Egyptians believed that a vein in that finger led directly to the heart, so the finger containing the “vein of love” is the perfect spot for a symbol of one’s love for another.
The Bridal Veil
In many cultures, the bridal veil was designed to ward off evil spirits from the innocent and easily targeted young girl. The veil was also favored by those giving their daughters away in an arranged marriage because the veil ensured the groom would not be spooked by her face until it was too late to back out of the bargain. For the more religiously inclined, the veil can be seen as a symbol of humility before God.
We derive this word from an unusual Norse tradition. Brides and grooms would hide out for thirty days (perhaps because the groom had kidnapped his bride), and during this time, someone close to the couple would bring them a cup of honey wine each day. Thirty days of this becomes a “honeymoon.”
Instead of clutching fragrant flowers, brides of old used to walk down the aisle with a bouquet of garlic and other pungent plants. People probably did this to ward off evil spirits, and it might have origins in the Plague, too, when people were seeking anything, even garlic, as a cure to the disease.
Carrying the Bride over the Threshold
While many cultures developed this tradition as a way of thwarting evil spirits, it is also reminiscent of the horrendous practice of kidnapping one’s bride. Today, of course, carrying the consenting bride over the threshold has become a way of welcoming her into her new home.