Wedding Traditions

Even in today’s high tech, fast-paced world, there are still some things rooted in tradition – like weddings.  Couples today still observe century old practices, updating them to reflect their personality and style.  Here are some questions and meanings behind some of the more traditional wedding customs still practiced today:

 

Why a wedding ring?  Wedding rings are circular to symbolize never-ending love, and were first worn to protect the bride from evil spirits.  Originally, the rings were made out of rushes, hemp, or braided grass.  Then, the Romans used more durable iron to symbolize the permanent bond of marriage.  In ancient Egypt, gold rings were used as money as a symbol of the groom’s wealth and his intention to wed.  Gold has always been a popular choice, but expensive.  It symbolizes lasting beauty, purity and strength.  The Egyptian husband placed a gold ring on the third finger of his bride’s left hand to show that he trusted her with his money.  The engagement ring came in around the 13th century when Pope Innocent III declared that a waiting period was to be observed between betrothal and marriage and this lead to the separate engagement and wedding rings.

 

Why the third finger of the left hand?  Centuries ago, people believed that the vein of the third finger of the left hand ran directly to the heart.  During medieval times, grooms would place sequentially the wedding ring on three of the bride’s fingers to symbolize the trinity – first on the bride’s thumb (“in the name of the Father”), then on the index finger (“and the Son”), then on the middle finger (“and the Holy Ghost”) before sliding the ring onto the third ring finger, saying “Amen”, where the ring remained throughout the marriage.  The tradition has remained until today and is the custom for most of all English speaking countries.

 

Why does the Bride wear white?  Since the Roman era white has been the color of choice and a symbol of celebration.  The color has had different meanings over the centuries including affluence during the Victorian era and then at the beginning of the 20th century, it represented purity.  Today, the color symbolizes joy and happiness and even women remarrying chose to wear some shade of white or ivory.

 

Why does the Bride wear a veil?  Veils were first worn to help the bride remain modest and hide her from jealous spirits.  It also represented the bride’s youth and virginity.  Even today, in most Muslim, Middle Eastern, African and some Eastern European countries, the women must conform to religious constraints and conduct the entire courtship being veiled.  The men are not permitted to see their bride’s face until after the wedding.  Centuries ago, veils were red and were worn to the protect the bride from the devil and “evil eye.”  Sometimes the veils were blue (meaning “constancy”), or even yellow (the classic color of the God of Marriage, Hymen).  Early Christian brides wore white to symbolize purity and celebration.  It was actually Martha Washington’s granddaughter who is said to have started the custom of wearing a white-lace veil.  It was on her wedding day that her fiancé complimented her as she stood behind a lace window curtain.

 

Why does the bride carry flowers?  For centuries flowers have represented a variety of emotions and merits – roses, love; lilies, virtue; and so on.  Early Roman brides carried bouquets of herbs under their veils to symbolize fidelity and fertility, and to ward off evil.  Greeks used ivy as a sign of indissoluble love.  Orange blossoms were chosen by the ancient Saracens to represent fulfillment and happiness.  Today, wedding blooms convey a message of fertility, enduring love and bounty.

 

Why is it traditional to have bridesmaids and ushers?  In early times, it was marriage by capture.  The groom’s friends helped him kidnap his bride and defended him against anyone who might try to rescue her – including her family.  The best man and ushers represent the warriors.  At the wedding ceremony, the groom always stood on the bride’s right side, leaving his right hand, his sword hand, free to defend her.

 

Also, it was customary for the bride to travel to the groom’s village accompanied by escorts, her “bridesmaids,” who would defend her and her dowry against rival suitors and robbers.  In England, married men or, “bridegroom men”, would escort the bride on the way home.

 

There are still many other century-old customs and traditions practiced today.  Working with a professional wedding consultant will ensure than any customs or traditions you wish to incorporate into your wedding will make it a day to remember.

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