From hundred-year-old superstitions to family customs your grandmother insists on continuing, perhaps no day is more wrapped in tradition than your wedding day. And while many of us recognize what these traditions are, few are aware of how they came about or what they mean.
Whether you’re tying the knot this year, know someone who is, or are just interested in learning more about wedding culture, come with us as we dive into some of our favorite wedding traditions and their significance.
If one person is going to take attention away from the bride, it’s the adorable flower girl. She’s responsible for throwing flower petals on the ground as she walks down the aisle before the bride, but how did this tradition get started? It was believed that this was a symbolic way of leading the bride from childhood to adult and motherhood. It’s for this reason that the flower girl is also usually dressed in white and similarly to the bride.
Throwing rose petals
While rose petals certainly add color and beauty to the aisle, they actually serve a more important purpose. Rose petals, which are traditionally red, represent fertility, and because they’re thrown by the flower girl, they are also a symbol of the transition the bride is making from an innocent girl to a woman and, soon, mother.
Corsages and their male counterpart, boutonnieres, have a long history in wedding ceremonies. In addition to acting as a beautiful accessory, corsages and boutonnieres were also believed to drive away evil spirits that may attack the bride on her big day.
The wedding cake
Besides being what many wedding guests look forward to most (aside from the “I do’s,” of course!), wedding cakes are incredibly symbolic. In ancient Rome, grooms crumbled a piece of cake over the bride’s head as a good-luck gesture. The idea behind this tradition is that, no matter what the future holds, you will serve your significant other and always be willing to help keep them happy and healthy.
Carrying a bouquet…
Since flowers often symbolize fertility, they are found in many wedding traditions. Many people believe that, in addition to warding off evil spirits, pollinated flowers lead to a fertile marriage.
…and then tossing it
Once the bride is married and can now have children, it’s time to pass that good luck on to someone she loves. That is where the idea that whoever catches the bouquet is next in line for marriage.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
This saying refers to the four things a bride is supposed to have on her wedding day. While now viewed as a way to include a loved one’s possessions into your ceremony, this ritual was once taken a bit more seriously. The initial idea behind these four trinkets was: Something old would help you always remember and appreciate your past, something new represented optimism for the future, something borrowed symbolized borrowed happiness, and blue was synonymous with purity (before that became the domain of the color white).