Wedding Traditions: Origins

This is a topic I’ve wanted to blog about for some time now, but it’s actually involved quite a bit of research. I’m sure anyone in the wedding business has heard it said before, “We want to stick with tradition and do _______.” And for some of those things, I wonder what tradition it is that they are wanting to stick with? Is it tradition in the sense that this is something everyone’s done so we’ll do it too? Or is it that they want to stick with the origins of the tradition, because some of them are pretty insane. When Natasha and I got married we did a lot of things, not so much out of tradition, but because it was what everyone else did so we figured we needed to do it to. For example, the garter toss, if I could go back I wouldn’t have done this. Just something about throwing your wife’s undergarments at a bunch of guys that seems odd. But, it’s what everyone else did before us so I didn’t know. I think a lot of times as engaged couples planning a wedding we put this pressure on ourselves to do what we know works, so we’ll stick with “tradition.” Because to do anything different may be too out of the ordinary for guests or family to accept. This is my advice to couples planning a wedding: It’s your day, make it your day. Start something new or improvise on something. Don’t worry about what everyone else did before you. Obviously if you have a cultural or deep rooted family tradition, then of course by all means, rock that tradition. What I’m talking of are the ones we see or hear about a lot, such as, not seeing each other before the ceremony, garter/bouquet toss, the flowers, and the wedding part.

Best Man
This is a fun one. Apparently back in the day a groom would kidnap the woman he was to marry and he would have a mate by his side for protection. The term “best” comes from his friend’s ability to use a sword in case they ran into any conflict. This responsibility didn’t end there. The best man would stand guard during the ceremony in case any family should come to take the bride back, and his responsibilities lasted throughout the evening as he stood guard outside the bedroom door in case of attack, or even in case the bride tried to make a run for it. The responsibility of protection wasn’t always 100% on the best man though, many cultures would have an arsenal of weapons under the church floor should anything happen during the ceremony. This is also a reason that the bride stands to the left of the groom so that his right hand was available to protect himself with his sword.

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Bridesmaids
Today, bridesmaids are their for support, helping with the dress, veil, or even emotional support. Back in the day, however, the bridesmaids didn’t always dress so differently from the bride. In fact, they would dress in a dress similar to the bride to trick any evil spirits or any ex-lovers that may be near. Seriously, their role was to be eye candy for others to distract any looming eyes from the bride. This method of dress was also in place to keep anyone from figuring out who the real bride is, as many people would throw rocks or try to cause harm to the bride. If they didn’t know who the bride was though, it would lessen the chances of the bride getting attacked. Today it’s very different, bridesmaids will have colored dresses and no wedding gowns so that the bride is the center of attention.

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Garter Toss
If you’ve not looked into origins before and you are planning a wedding, prepare to possibly want to take this out of your ceremony. I had no idea until recently. Back in the day, after couples said their vows, they would go into a nearby room to consummate the marriage. To make it official, though, there would need to be a witness. This led to a lot of people following the couple into the bedroom as the couple did their business in hopes of getting a piece of the dress or better, her undergarments. Obviously this wouldn’t fare well with a new couple, so couples came up with ways to distract the guests. Rather than battle them in the bed, they decided to simply throw a piece of her undergarments out of the door/window so the horde of people could fight over it allowing the couple to have some alone time. Keep this in mind as you throw your wife’s garter to a crowd of guys. HA

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Saving the Wedding Cake
Kind of a weird one that really doesn’t line up with today’s society. After a couple got married they would keep their wedding cake for the sole purpose of having that cake a year later (give or take) for when they had a newborn. This way, rather than making a cake for both wedding and christening, the couple would save their wedding cake and have it available for both events.

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Seeing Each Other Before the Wedding
This is a tradition that a lot of people stick to because “it’s tradition.” Natasha and I did this as well, but if I could go back I’d change this one too. Plus, now knowing where the tradition comes from a lot of people may have a different viewpoint on it too. This tradition goes along with arranged marriages. The families didn’t want the couple to see each other before the wedding, because they felt if they had the opportunity to see each other beforehand, they would change their mind and try to flee. So this tradition was ultimately set to ensure that the couple did marry each other regardless of how they felt about the appearance of the other one.

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The Bouquet
Many people are aware of the reason for flowers, traditionally. In some traditions, these flowers were meant to cover up the smell of the bride, as back then, access to a shower was not like it was today. However, in other cultures, the bouquet was actually made of garlic and rosemary to keep away any evil spirits.

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Throwing of Rice
Ancient Romans would shower the couple with wheat (later rice) to symbolize fertility and that they would have many healthy babies. Of course, this isn’t allowed by many venues today because of the mess it leaves in front of the church, which is understandable. However, the basis of this tradition is pretty awesome so if a couple were to do any tradition, this is one that I feel is a fun one with a pretty positive meaning. Granted, you can’t use rice (or wheat), but bubbles, ecofetti, even paper airplanes are fun ideas.

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To wrap it up, some traditions are pretty gruesome and have crazy histories or meanings. When it comes to your wedding day, make it your own. This is a one time opportunity to do something that is unique to you two. If you don’t want to do a garter/bouquet toss, don’t do it. If you want to skip down the aisle after the wedding to a fun song, by all means rock out! It’s your day, have fun with it and like I said, make it your own.

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