Ever get to thinking about the meanings of different wedding traditions?
The ring, a perfect circle, has long been identified with the concept of love having no beginning and no end. In Egyptian times, a gold ring was thought to hold mystical powers. And a diamond, the hardest substance on earth, symbolized a love that would last forever.
It was long believed that the third finger on the left hand contained a vein that went directly to the heart. In ancient times, the wedding ring was made of hemp or a vine, and was replaced whenever it wore away. It was the Romans who created a ring from iron to symbolize the strength of the couple’s union, and the British who decided to create a ring from gold.
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that a bride’s veil would ward off evil spirits and magically protect her from harm. Brides were veiled from head to toe, and only the husband could see the bride unveiled – so he could make sure he was indeed marrying the correct woman.
Brides wear white as a symbol of the bride’s purity and her worthiness of her groom. The tradition solidified during the time of Queen Victoria who rebelled against the tradition for royal brides to wearing silver.
And then there was Cake
Grains have long symbolized fertility. During ancient times, wedding ceremonies were finalized by breaking a large loaf of bread above the head of the bride. After the loaf was broken, the wedding guests would gather the crumbs as tokens of good luck. Eventually, the bread was replaced by cakes which became more elaborate over the centuries.
Cutting of the Cake
Cutting the wedding cake together symbolizes the couple’s unity, their shared future, and their life together as one.
Seeing a lamb, frog, spider, black cat, or rainbows on the way to the ceremony is believed to be a sign of good luck.
Tying shoes to the back of the newlyweds’ car is something guests will do to encourage luck. This has evolved from the Tudor custom where guests would throw shoes at the newlywed couple. It was considered lucky if they or their carriage were hit.
The tradition of showers derived from the time when men would prove their love by bringing gifts such as livestock and land to a woman’s father. Today, friends “shower” the bride – and sometimes the groom – with gifts to start their new life together.
Tying tin cans to the back of the newlywed’s car recalls the ancient tradition of making loud noise to frighten away evil spirits.
Tying Shoes to the Honeymoon Car
The custom of tying shoes to the car bumper stems way back to Ancient Egypt, where a father would give the groom his daughter’s sandal, marking that an exchange had taken place. Since shoes were considered a phallic symbol, it was also thought to promote fertility for the newlyweds and later shoes were tied to the getaway car.
Coordinating Wedding Party
The tradition of having members of the wedding party dress alike was started with the hopes that evil spirits will become confused and have a more difficult time distinguishing which one is the bride and prevent putting a hex on her.
After the reception the bride throws her bouquet back over her shoulder where the unmarried female guests group together. Tradition holds that the one who catches the bouquet will be the next one of those present to marry.
After the reception the groom removes the garter worn by the bride and throws it back over his shoulder toward the unmarried male guests. Again the one who catches it will be the next to marry.
The custom of throwing rice at the newlywed couple symbolizes fertility.
There are two commonly accepted origins of the term “honeymoon.”
The first has its roots in Northern Europe and in Babylon some 4,000 years ago whereby newly married couples drank a fermented honey drink, known as metheglen, for about 30 days (or one lunar/moon month). From this custom grew the term “honey month” or “honeymoon.”
The second or alternate origin came from ancient times when the groom kidnapped his bride and hid her from her family. This time which usually was one lunar/moon month was considered the cooling off period for the bride’s family. It was the groom’s hope that upon return, the bride’s family would have forgiven him.
Facts and Stats
- Approximately 5 million brides and grooms get married every year in the U.K.
- June is the most popular month for weddings, flowed by August, September, October and May.
- £20,000 is the average wedding budget.
- 180 guests are invited to an average wedding.
- Average age for first-time brides is 25 years. For grooms, it’s 27.
- Couples spend an average of £5,000 on their honeymoon.
- The average annual household income for newly married couples is £40,000 per year.
- One in five men proposes on one knee.
- Average cost of an engagement ring is £3,165.