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For Brides

July 19, 2021

The History of Wedding Traditions

Bride throwing bouquet to bridesmaids at wedding reception

Wedding ceremonies are full of tradition. Everything from the white dress, to the music, the first dance, and so much more. Obviously, as more and more people are taking a no-traditional route, some of these old traditions are becoming extinct, but there are still thousands of couples that follow all of the old traditions.

If you’re like us, you probably have no idea why brides and grooms actually do these things. They just do them because it’s “tradition.” This post is going to explore the most common wedding traditions and explain where they started.

Not Seeing Each Other Before The Wedding

I’m sure everyone has heard that you’re “Not supposed to see the bride before she walks down the aisle,” but do you have any idea of where that started? We sure didn’t!

*side note – we did a first look, so we BROKE this tradition, but we are SO glad we did.

The superstition of not the bride and groom not seeing each other before the ceremony is an OLD idea. It goes back to the times when arranged marriages were VERY common.

Not only were the bride and groom having an arranged marriage, but they had NEVER seen each other. The whole marriage was built around business deals. The families of the bride and the groom (almost always the fathers of each), would set up the couple based on which families had land or which could benefit them the most.

SO the couples haven’t met before the wedding day. Crazy right, but that’s not the end of the tradition.

After these business-style arranged marriages had been going on for a while, there had been some couples who met on the wedding day and one of them would leave after seeing the other. Either the bride would run away or the groom would jet after seeing the bride.

Clearly, that wasn’t ideal for the “good of the family,” and so the tradition began. A bride and groom shouldn’t see each other on the wedding day before the ceremony.

Throwing the Bouquet / Garter Toss

Throwing the bouquet is such a sweet tradition and makes for wonderful photos! What’s better than seeing your bridesmaids dive after your flowers? As wedding photographers, we LOVE it.

BUT the origins of throwing the bouquet and tossing the garter and CRAZY!

In Medieval times the idea that if you were able to get an item from the bride, you would have good luck in your relationships. Wedding guests would crowd around the couple just to touch them or be able to take something home. During a lot of weddings, the bride or groom would end up with injuries trying to leave the wedding.

So how does the bouquet and garter fit into all this? Well, brides started tossing their flowers at the guest to basically distract them as they left the wedding. It gave them time to sneak out without being swarmed.

The idea of throwing the garter is very similar. If the guests followed them all the way to their house or room, the groom would throw the garter out of the bedroom to get the guests to leave.

Saving The Top of the Cake

This tradition isn’t as widely known as some of the others on our list, but it’s something we did! The idea is that you save the top layer of your wedding cake to eat on your one-year anniversary. So, how in the world did eating old frozen cake a year later become a normal tradition.

To explain this one, we have an expert from The Pink Bride:

In the olden days, couples saved the top tier of their wedding cake to use during the christening celebration for their first child, which everyone believed would come within the year following the wedding.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” – first, you probably didn’t know that there is more to the rhyme. It actually ends with, “and a silver sixpence in her shoe.”

Yes, it’s a catchy rhyme that you’ve probably seen in several TV shows and movies. The scene of a loved one giving something to the bride. It’s always a tender moment. The mom giving the daughter an old necklace, some blue earrings, or some other tender momento.

While we don’t know exactly WHEN this rhyme began, but we do not it’s an Old English rhyme that has been around for well over a hundred years and places specific reasons or blessings on each of the items listed in the rhyme. Some of these you probably know, while others are going to be a surprise.

Something Old

There is no better place to start than with “something old.” This one is a little wild. The idea was a bride should carry something old with her on the wedding day to protect her future children from the dangers of the “Evil Eye.” Yep, that old necklace or pair of shoes is going to protect your kids in the future.

Something New

This part is much happier than something old, with less Evil Eye. Something new is used to represent a new chapter of life.

The idea of two people coming together to make something new. This is sometimes a gift from a loved one or some people think of it as “new to me.”

Something Borrowed

Having something borrowed is pretty simple. It’s there to symbolize the love of those surrounding the bride. Having something borrowed from a loved one shows their support for the wedding and the newlyweds.

Something Blue

Why in the world would you want something blue on your wedding day? Blue doesn’t always go with a white dress.

This part of the rhyme goes back to a tradition in Ancient Isreal when brides would wear a blue ribbon in their hair on the wedding day to show commitment and loyalty to their groom. Through the hundreds of years, this converted from a blue ribbon to “something blue.”

And A Silver Six Pence in Her Shoe

This section of the rhyme has been dropped off for a long time (probably because we don’t use silver sixpences anymore). The whole idea here is the bride would place a sixpence in her shoe on the wedding day and it would bring good fortune for her and. her husband.


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