This is a question that we hear a lot from brides during the planning process.
There are oodles of Western wedding traditions that have carried on throughout the years and are still honoured today – but that doesn’t mean that you need to follow them!
To help you out, we’ve put together a list below of many different wedding traditions, and the quirky origins behind them.
Best man Apparently, the best man’s duties were originally to ensure that the bride didn’t escape before the wedding. He was referred to as the ‘best’ man as he needed to be the strongest to be able to fight off enemies at the ceremony.
Bride’s father walking her down the aisle This tradition stems from women being the property of men – the bride’s father would give her away to her new husband as a symbol to transfer ownership.
Bridesmaids Back in early Roman times, a group of women walked with the bride to form somewhat of a protective guard around her.
Bridesmaids wearing matching outfits Originally, bridesmaids wore similar outfits to the bride, to confuse evil spirits as to who was getting married.
Father-daughter dance This tradition was an extension of the bride’s father giving her away – it symbolises one last dance together before she goes off out of the family home and into her new life.
Removing/tossing the garter So, there are two origins for this one…. One a little creepier than the other! Some people think this was a tradition originating from Europe, as the bride’s way of appeasing the eager crowd of guests who wanted a piece of the wedding dress for good luck.
Another origin suggests that the bride and groom would consummate the marriage right after saying ‘I do’. The groom would then later toss the garter as a symbol of the marriage becoming ‘official’.
Saving the cake Traditionally wedding cakes were fruit cakes, which could last quite some time. The purpose of saving the top tier was to have on the first wedding anniversary, and then again when the couple’s first baby was born.
Seeing the bride before the wedding It was widely believed that it was bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the wedding ceremony. It was thought that if they had time to see each other, there was a risk that the wedding would be called off.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue This is a tradition dating back to the Victorian era, with the items thought to bring good luck to the bride.
Something Old was worn as a gesture to her family
Something New symbolised the new chapter in her life
Something Borrowed was to transfer luck from a happily married couple
Something Blue is a colour that was associated with loyalty and faithfulness
Throwing Rice (or rose petals or bubbles nowadays!) This tradition was started as a symbol of showering the couple with luck, good fortune and prosperity.
Wearing a veil dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome, where brides wore them to ward off evil spirits. However, they’ve also been used throughout history to preserve the bride’s modesty.
Wearing a white dress Traditionally a white dress is supposed to symbolise purity on the wedding day. It was also the colour that Queen Victoria chose to wear on her wedding day in the 1840’s, starting a trend that still continues to this day.
Wedding bouquet The wedding bouquet has Greek origins, where the bride would carry a cluster of aromatic herbs to ward off evil spirits.
Wedding Rings Historically, rings were given to the bride’s father as ‘payment’ for his daughter, and as a sign of ownership.
Wearing the ring on the fourth finger Although proven false, it was widely believed that this finger had a specific vein that led to the heart.
Well, there you have it! The key to deciding whether to include a tradition in your wedding is to go down the list and see which ones resonate with you and your partner.
Remember: If you don’t like a tradition, then don’t include it – it is yours and your partner’s day!