The History Of Popular Wedding Traditions  

By
WedSure Team
29 April 2024

Welcome to our exploration of the history of weddings, whereby we will attempt to uncover the stories behind the traditions we seem to accept when getting married in the modern world.

In this blog, we will be diving into the origins of some of the key wedding traditions / wedding customs around the world. From basic ceremonies, through to why we dress, drink and act the way we do. Prepare to discover that these traditions often make very little sense in the modern world, yet shows how the past really does dictate the future.

The symbolism of a “veil” for brides

The history of the wedding veil goes back many years. It is steeped in ancient culture and folklore and originally used to fend off evil spirits and protect the bride from harm. Over the years, it has become a symbol for modesty and purity, further becoming a tradition that is commonly used in many cultures.

The history of the white wedding dress

It was Queen Victoria who popularised the white wedding dress when she married Prince Albert in 1840. Prior to this wedding in 1840, it was stated that many brides wore dresses in varying colours and instead just chose their nicest dress they had.

The history of wedding rings and why we exchange rings

It is said that wedding rings originated in either Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt or Ancient Greece. The exchange of rings was tied to marital dowry. The modern Christian views on exchanging rings comes from Middle Ages Europe and is placed on the left ring finger because it is believed to have a vein that goes from finger all the way up to the heart.

Origin of “Something old, new, borrowed, blue”

This originates from a rhyme made up in the Victorian era. The words are “Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, A Sixpence in your Shoe”. This old fashioned rhyme is believed to help bring good luck to the bridge. The symbolism is continuity (something old), optimism for the future (something new), happiness from family and friends (something borrowed) and purity, love and fidelity (something blue).

The bridal bouquet and why brides carry flowers

It is said that the tradition of carrying flowers by the bride (bridal bouquet) dates back to the times whereby herbs, spices and flowers were carried to mask odours (and warn off evil spirits) given that bathing was somewhat of an infrequent luxury. Today, carrying flowers is purely decorative and symbolic of beauty and youth.

The history of honeymoons in context of marriage

The concept of a honeymoon has many varying accounts of where it comes from. Some say it comes from 19th century Great Britan whereby fancy and well to do couple would take a trip to visit relatives and friends who could not attend the wedding in person.

Funnily enough, according to some, the honeymoon is related to “marriage by capture” whereby grooms would capture their wives and then go into hiding to avoid reprisal from relatives and loved ones of the bridge.

According to Norse tradition, the newlyweds would go into hiding after the wedding and drink honey wine for 30 days (a fully moon cycle). Not sure how true this is however!

Wedding photography and it’s background

Photography at weddings began in the early 19th Century. Prior to that, commemorative sketches and paintings were actually the way ones family would remember the celebration.

The history of wedding cakes and why we have them

Dating back to Ancient Rome, it was said that guests would break a load of bread over the brides head to assist with granting her additional fertility. Over time, this slowly evolved into making a cake with elaborate layers to signify depth and fertility.

Wedding music and why it’s so important

Music has played a significant role in wedding ceremonies throughout the ages. Whether it be a traditional wedding march, to a modern love song, music is a very popular way to set the tone for the special day and always has been. The history of music at weddings lies in the fact that the key entertainment for those attending a wedding has always been alcohol and dancing.

Arranged marriages and why they historically existed

Throughout history, the concept of an arranged marriage has been common (and in some culture, still is today). The arrangement was done not for love, but instead of political, social or economic reasons – a way to create a better future for the two families (or in some instances, countries!).

The origin of throwing rice or confetti at a wedding

The tradition of throwing rice at weddings is said to have originated in Ancient Rome. It symbolised fertility and prosperity, as rice was grown from the ground and became something important. Many other cultures used this tradition, often throwing corn, wheat or other crops. Fast forward to the present, and alternative such as paper based confetti and flower petals are the preference.

What other traditions are we missing?

We would love to hear any other fascinating traditions we may be missing. Feel free to connect with us on Social to discuss them or share your ideas for updating this post.

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