Wedding Traditions & Superstitions: Everything You Didn’t Know

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Why does the bride throw the bouquet? What’s up with wearing something blue? We look into all the wedding traditions and superstitions out there, so you can decide if you’d like to include them in your own special day!

You may have heard of some of these wedding traditions and superstitions which have played a huge role in weddings all over the world over the years.

If you’re in the midst of planning your perfect day, you’re probably wracking your brain trying to think of something borrowed and something blue, or making sure your groom doesn’t see you before the big reveal – but do you know why these traditions are a thing and what they mean?

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For such widely known wedding traditions, many people have no clue what the real reason behind them is, so we’ve done a little digging to bring you the truth. Then you can decide if you want to keep or ditch them!

“Something old, something new, something borrow & something blue”

This saying is widely known and dates back to an age-old Victorian rhyme. Something old relates back to bride’s family and represents something from her past life as she starts her own family – many brides choose something nostalgic and sentimental such as a jewellery from their grandmother or incorporate an element of their mother’s wedding dress into her own.

Something new represents good fortune and success for the bride’s new chapter. Often this is the wedding dress or the bride’s new shoes as she walks into her new life with something new for good luck!

Something borrowed is said to be a symbol to remind the bride that her family and friends will always be there to support her whenever she needs them. This can be something as small as a hair pin, a lace handkerchief or even a piece of jewellery.

The something blue relates to loyalty and faithfulness – this tradition dates back to biblical times when blue represented purity. You will often see brides who include this in their garter with a blue ribbon!

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Another less heard of tradition is a ‘silver sixpence in your shoe’, which was originally a sign that the bride’s father approved of the marriage and was seen as a good luck charm to bring the couple wealth and happiness in their new life together.

The big reveal: why can’t he see you before the big day?

This is a commonly known wedding tradition in which the groom is forbidden to see the bride before she makes her big appearance down the aisle and we wait for that all-important reaction!

This dates back to the days of arranged marriages, when marriage leaned more on the business deal side of things rather than love (thank God for modern times, eh?).

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Back then, couples were not allowed to see each other in fear that they’d pull out of the marriage! Luckily, today it’s not that serious (phew!) and is simply seen a symbol of bad luck to see the bride on the morning of the wedding before the big reveal. It’s also a cute way to build the suspense for when you walk down the aisle looking drop-dead gorgeous and hopefully get that teardrop reaction from your groom or bride-to-be!

Why does the bride throw the bouquet?

Did you know that the bouquet wasn’t originally carried down the aisle just to add to the pretty wedding aesthetic? The real reason it was introduced was actually to mask the bride’s odour (gasp!).

Rumour has it that floral scents of fragrant flowers were said to ward off evil spirits with brides even adding herbs and garlic to the bouquet… if this isn’t quite the vibe you’re going for (and we don’t blame you) check out all our trusty wedding flower suppliers to find the perfect bouquet for you!

We’ve all been to weddings where the bride throws the bouquet and the single bridesmaids would rush to catch it to see if she would be the next to walk down the aisle – this is actually a more modern remake of a French 14th century tradition in which the groom would throw the bride’s garter into the crowd.

Why does the bride get given away?

Again, this tradition is a very old one which dates back to the business arrangement-type marriages. Brides would quite literally be handed over to a ‘new owner’, usually in exchange for some type of payment.

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Fast forward to 2021, and a lot has changed! In these modern times, brides can decide who gives them away and it’s now more about creating a special moment with your father, but this can be anyone significant in your life such as a grandparent, mother or sibling.

Did you notice the bride always stands to the left of the groom?

This is one that we probably see at a lot of weddings, but never noticed or paid any attention to. Well, rumour has it that this wedding tradition started back in medieval times so the groom could protect the bride with his left arm and use his sword on the right for anyone who tried to steal her away.

So now that we are in the 21st century and women can certainly protect themselves, why do we still do this? I guess old habits die hard and it is a little romantic to feel protected by your man, but wherever you stand it’s totally up to you and your beau!

Why do we wear the ring on the left hand & fourth finger?

This tradition is believed to be started by the Romans, who thought a vein from the fourth finger on the left hand led straight down to your heart. Others simply say it began because most people tend to be right-handed, so therefore having your ring on your left hand is a more practical choice.

It is said that the Egyptians favoured the middle finger on the left hand, while ancient Britons and Gauls preferred the pinky finger. Roman Catholics were believed to use the right hand for wedding rings right up until the 18th century.

There are also some conspiracy theories regarding the ring, for example, its bad luck for a bride to try her ring on before the wedding or that the couple who drop the ring in church shall be the first to die (gulp!).

It is also said to be unlucky to remove your ring before the first seven years of marriage – these are all a little out there, but if you are a superstitious type of bride then you’ve been warned!

Why are wedding cakes tiered?

We’ve all seen some marvellous wedding cakes in our time, like those in our recent article which shows all the fabulous tiered wedding cake trends – but why is almost every wedding cake tiered?

Guests used to bring small cakes and place them in front of the newly-weds who would kiss over the pile of cakes to guarantee future prosperity. The tiered wedding cakes we know and love today are said to be stacked cakes from this tradition started by Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, in 1882.

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The cutting of the cake is also a big moment at every wedding celebration and comes from a tradition rooted in history when the first cut was made by the bride to ensure the marriage would be blessed by children – a little outdated, we know, but’s always cute to let the bride go first!

Why the white wedding dress?

We’re sure you’ve probably all heard the old belief that wearing a white dress is to represent being pure and a virgin before marriage. Yes, that was once one reason for it, but it was also closely linked to wealth as only rich people could afford to wear white. Despite all of this, the trend came about much later than you may have expected.

It was actually Queen Victoria who was the first to start the white dress trend – before her wedding in 1840 to Prince Albert, many brides would wear the most expensive dress they owned, no matter the colour. In one of her diary entries, the Queen wrote:

“I wore a white satin dress with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design, and my jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace and earrings and dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch.”

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There are also some questionable superstitions linked to the bridal look you may not have heard of. For example apparently, it’s bad luck for a bride-to-be to see her completed bridal look before walking down the aisle. These days it has evolved into the bride only seeing her complete bridal look once (even we’re not sure we could stick to this one!).

Where did the veil come from?

Apparently, this one isn’t just for the pretty wedding aesthetic either. Although we do love a gorgeous veil, this was actually believed to hide the bride’s beauty and ward off evil spirits. Another reason is in the times of arranged marriages, the bride’s face was often covered until the groom had already committed to the marriage.

So, we know this  may have been the meaning behind them then but brides these days have taken their power back and, evil spirits or no evil spirits, if you feel like wearing a veil for fashion reasons alone, we say go for it! (and it’s a cute surprise for your groom to see that gorgeous makeup reveal!)

If you are a little superstitious though, maybe don’t let your friends try on your veil after the wedding – it apparently means they’ll run off with your man and we sure can’t have that!

Why do we give our wedding favours?

Wedding favours have been a wedding tradition for hundreds of years as a way of giving your guests a token to remember the day. Many couples still put a lot of thought and symbolism into the favours with five sugar coated almonds to represent fertility, health, wealth and a long happy life together.

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Today, many couples don’t stick by this and decide to get a little creative with their guest favours like giving out little bottles of spirits, mini treats or anything fun and cute as a little thank you to their guests!

Why does the bride get carried over the threshold?

Yes, you guessed it – it’s the evil spirits again! Carrying the bride over the threshold was believed to protect her from any evil spirits that may be lurking in the couple’s new home – especially since the soles of her feet were said to carry the greatest risk of evil (spooky stuff!)

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