Wedding Traditions: Where did they come from?

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW

SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLUE

A SIXPENCE IN HER SHOE

Have you ever wondered where this rhyme originated? Or why we throw confetti? Or wear a veil…?

We’ve researched some of our most well known wedding traditions in the UK to find out where they came from and the significance they hold, even today.

WEARING WHITE

Wearing white on your wedding day has modern day connotations of purity, religion and virginity.

However, after some research we have found that the real reason white wedding dresses became so traditional was due to Queen Victoria and her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. The Queen simply liked the colour (which only the wealthy could really afford in those times) and as a result it became the must have colour for wedding dresses! Victoria’s lace dress became a must have, with aristocratic families choosing the colour and material to display their wealth and status. Nothing to do with purity at all… interesting huh?

Embed-01-Queen-Victoria-Prince-Albert.jpg

GARTERS

A bit of an odd tradition right? We thought so too! We found this information from Bustle about this wedding idea…

Brides have always been seen as very good luck, and getting a piece of the wedding attire even more so. A medieval French tradition meant that immediately after they left the altar, brides were rushed by attendees wanting to tear off a bit of her gown for good fortune.

The result? A bride in rags, and probably not too pleased. The garter version, just like the bouquet toss, was devised sometime in history as a way to keep the mob at bay and still let the bride remain fully clothed.

We’re glad this has taken on much more of a fun and playful aspect of the day in recent years…! No ripping of dresses at The Granary please…!

Vintage Style Garter - notonthehighstreet.com

Vintage Style Garter - notonthehighstreet.com

WEDDING VEIL

A wedding veil is really down to personal preference with many brides choosing to wear it as an accessory, others for use during the ceremony and some not at all! We found this explanation about how veils came to be used on Cosmopolitan:

It turns out that veils first became popular in the Roman times when a red sheet, called a 'flammeum', was used to cover the bride from head-to-toe. This was supposed to make the bride look like she was on fire which, in turn, was intended to scare off any evil spirits looking to ruin her big day.

Over time, the veil became a method to disguise the bride from evil spirits and, of course, her husband who wasn't supposed to see his new wife until the deed was done. The un-veiling of the bride - done by the groom - was to symbolise that ownership has changed hands; from her father, to her husband.

So whether or not you would choose to wear one, the veil has been around for many years and looks set to be around as a wedding accessory for many years to come.

Image - Chasing Eve Photography

Image - Chasing Eve Photography


SOMETHING OLD

Originating from around the Victorian era, to have something ‘old’ on your person on your wedding day, was another method of keeping ‘evil spirits’ away. It would also signify continuity and hold a strong sentimental value. This would commonly be a piece of jewellery belonging to an older relation. Another well-loved item to use as ‘something old’ would be to wear the mother or grandmothers wedding dress - a very traditional and symbolic statement.


SOMETHING NEW

Having a ‘new’ item on your wedding day would symbolise good fortune and success in the couples new life together. Nowadays this can be any item such as clothing, a pocket watch or similar trinkets to carry with you - just a small token to signify a new chapter and optimism for the future. Lovely! :)


SOMETHING BORROWED

This one could have a double meaning…. by borrowing something from your friends or family, this was a promise from the lender to always have your best interests at heart and the promise to be there to support you whenever needed. It also has an added sentimental value attached to it which is what we think it’s all about :)

The alternative is to borrow something from an already happily married couple whose borrowed possession may ‘rub off’ some good luck on to you! During the 18th and 19th centuries, this would even go as far as borrowing a female relatives undergarments to encourage fertility following the marriage - we’re not sure this is such a favoured tradition nowadays!


SOMETHING BLUE

The colour blue symbolises purity, love and faithfulness. This dates back to biblical times when the colour was used to represent these virtues. Traditionally the colour blue can be seen in a brides garter, a bouquet or in small details like a piece of jewellery, for example.



A SIXPENCE IN HER SHOE

The sixpence tradition began in the late 17th century as a part of the dowry gift to the groom.

Wikipedia states ‘A dowry is a transfer of parental property, gifts or money at the marriage of a daughter”.

As time and traditions have moved on, this has evolved and now a sixpence is used as a good luck charm by the bride and typically worn in the left shoe throughout the day. It symbolises wealth and happiness.


WHICH SIDE SHOULD I SIT?

Having seen many weddings under our timber beams over the past 6 years, we know that this wedding tradition isn’t as prevalent nowadays. All the same, we found it really interesting to find our just where this idea came from! This article from The Spruce explains it perfectly…

Wedding lore tells us that hundreds of years ago, kidnappers would often capture and hurry off with the bride in order to steal her dowry. So, in order to ensure that the groom could keep his sword arm (the right) free, the bride stood on the other side (the left.) Today, in spite of the fact that the groom rarely wears a sword nor needs to fend off attackers, you'll almost always see the bride standing on the groom's left. It is also traditional for wedding guests to follow suit. Typically, the bride's guests and family sit on the left, while the groom's family and guests sit on the right.

If you’re not a huge fan of this tradition, signs such as ‘Choose a seat, not a side, we’re all family once the knot is tied’ are a great way to let people know your thoughts on this :)

Image - Ania Ames Photography

Image - Ania Ames Photography

YOU CAN’T SEE HER BEFORE THE WEDDING!

This long standing and still very much used tradition is one that got us scratching our heads a bit! Brides also took a look into this and found the following:

One such tradition that we take for granted today is the superstition that it is bad luck to see the bride on the wedding day. Now, we must ask ourselves: but why would it be bad luck to see the bride? Picture this: You're an Elizabethan-era father who scraped together enough goats and cows to make a compelling dowry for your teenage daughter, and you're this close to getting her married to the fella down the street. You've been negotiating with his family for months, and you've nearly got it in the bag. The last thing you would want is for the groom-to-be to catch a glimpse of your daughter the morning of the wedding and realise that—bless her heart—she's a homely thing. Why, if he saw her before the very second she arrived at the altar, he might run, and now wouldn't that be bad luck? Better to be safe than sorry—you have your daughter don a veil, too. Now there's no way he can make a quick getaway as she treks down the aisle. Phew!

Wow. Just wow… :/

With all of the above aside, we do really enjoy this tradition in its modern form. To be present when the bride and groom, groom and groom or bride and bride see each other for the first time on the day is simply magical! And for this reason, we like this tradition and all of the excitement and anticipation it brings with it. LOVE!


CONFETTI

The tradition of throwing items such as rice, seeds, flowers and small sweets began many centuries back, with the more modern option of paper being adopted as the confetti of choice by the Victorians (it would hurt a lot less than getting rained on by candy or getting a bit of rice in the eye!).

The word ‘confetti’ is the plural of the Italian word ‘confetto’, meaning small sweet. The Italians would favour throwing small sweets or almonds to signal the start of the informal celebrations, which leads us on to another wedding favourite over the years… sugared almonds. You learn something new everyday! :)

Image - Greg Coltman Photography

Image - Greg Coltman Photography

CARRYING A BOUQUET

Now this one is quite straight forward.

In times gone by, when people would only bathe a couple of times a year, a bouquet was carried on the wedding day in order to mask the smell and make the bride feel better. Even though our bathing habits are now far better and take place more regularly (hopefully), this tradition has stayed and we for one love it!

A bouquet is a great way to add a personal touch to your wedding day, add a pop of colour to your wedding photos as well as giving the bride (or groom) something to hold as they make their way down the aisle. It is a nerve-racking moment after all!

GOING ACROSS THE THRESHOLD

The Knot describes this tradition below:

The ancient Romans started it: the bride had to show that she was not at all crazy about leaving her father's home, and so was dragged over the threshold to her groom's house. Ancients also believed that evil spirits, in a last-ditch effort to curse the couple, hovered at the threshold of their new home, so the bride had to be lifted to ensure that the spirits couldn't enter her body through the soles of her feet. These days, it's just fun!

We’re glad it’s all a bit of fun these days… no evil spirits please!


So there you have it folks! Just a few of the popular wedding traditions that we are all familiar with in the UK. It’s just so interesting to look back at our history and understand the things which are still happening today after so many years!

Are there other wedding or event related blogs you would like to see? Or topics that we could help you with via a blog? We are always happy to hear from you so please do get in touch if you have specific content you want us to take a look at!

Thanks for visiting our blog :)

The GG’s x