The Origins of Popular Wedding Traditions

by Karen

The Origins of Popular Wedding Traditions

In our increasingly advanced world, weddings are one of the few events where beloved, old-fashioned traditions are openly celebrated. While now we consider many of these rituals or customs to be commonplace, many of these time-honored traditions have interesting historical origins. Some hail from the Victorian era, when conforming to trends was practically a pastime. Others, however, come to us all the way from ancient civilizations. If you’ve ever wondered where some of these ideas come from, take a look at the origins of popular wedding traditions.

Something Old, Something New…

The idea of a bride carrying “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” down the aisle has been passed down through generations. This phase originated from an Old English rhyme which sought to adorn the bride in tokens of good luck and prosperity. While this tradition is still in place, the meaning has been altered slightly since it first originated. For example, brides used to wear their friend’s undergarments as their “something borrowed” to ensure fertility and a happy marriage. Now, a sentimental piece of jewelry is far more appropriate.

The Ring Bearer’s Pillow

The tradition of a young boy carrying wedding rings down the aisle on a pillow dates back thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, it was customary for sacred pieces of jewelry to be carried on decorative pillows during important religious ceremonies. This tradition continued through the Middle Ages and remains a wedding day staple.

Bridesmaids Dresses

While modern brides are taking more and more liberties when it comes to outfitting their bridesmaids, it is still customary for bridesmaids to wear dresses that are the same style and color. This tradition dates back to ancient Rome, when the bride and her bridesmaids all dressed in the similarly styled clothing. This practice was meant to confuse evil spirits. After all, these spirits wouldn’t be able to harm the bride if they couldn’t pick her out of the crowd.

The Wedding Veil

The wedding veil is one of the oldest and most time-honored wedding traditions. Even today, many brides consider their ensemble incomplete without a beautiful veil trailing behind them. This tradition dates back to ancient times, when brides were wrapped in lightweight fabrics from head to toe to symbolize their status as a modest and untouched maiden. Other cultures also adopted this tradition to keep the bride hidden from evil spirits who may wish her harm on her wedding day. It’s also been said that when arranged marriages were the norm, veils were used to cover a brides face during the entirety of the ceremony - that way, the groom wouldn’t run away before the vows if his future wife’s face wasn’t to his liking. Today, veils are only used as beautiful, statement-making accessories and serve no practical purpose other than that of a delightful decoration.

Wearing White Down The Aisle

There is nothing more synonymous with a wedding than a beautiful white (or ivory) bridal gown. Believe it or not, this time-honored tradition didn’t become customary until 1840. Before that time, brides wore their fanciest frock down the aisle regardless of the color. When Queen Victoria arrived at her wedding wearing an exquisite white ballgown, however, women everywhere wanted to emulate the queen’s fashion-forward sense of style. Even in the 21st century, brides-to-be are still following in Queen Victoria’s fabulous footsteps.

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