There are many traditions and customs associated with a betrothal and marriage. The reasons behind them can seem quite silly and out of place in today’s modern society, but many brides still love to uphold these traditions and there is certainly a place for them in our ceremonies today.
The Engagement Ring tradition began during Roman times, when the man had to “barter” for his future bride, and the engagement ring was put up as security. Men began to present diamond rings to their future brides, as the diamond was thought to offer more security and made their promise strong and binding. In medieval times, Italian lovers believed that the diamond was created from the flames of love.
The Stag Party or Buck’s Night, was the last chance the groom had to spend his money as he wished. He would feast with his friends the night before the wedding, saying goodbye to the carefree days of bachelorhood and pledging his loyalty to his comrades. (Much the same as today really!)
The Bridal Shower came about when a father disapproved of his daughter’s choice of groom, and refused to provide a dowry for the couple. Supportive villagers would provide for the bride, with a variety of household items for her new home. On one occasion, the brides friends placed small gifts inside a parasol, and then opened it over her head, and so she was “showered” with the gifts. This then became a very popular tradition.
The white Bridal Gown was first worn by Queen Victoria in 1840. Before that, a bride chose her favourite dress of any colour as her bridal gown. Wearing a white gown represented affluence, virginity and purity, and is still the most popular choice today, although not for the same reasons!
The Bridal Veil covered the bride’s face,as a reminder to all present, that the physical relationship began only after the vows were exchanged and the marriage became official. The veil was then removed from the bride’s face and the marriage was sealed with a kiss.
In ancient times the Bridal Bouquet consisted of strong smelling herbs and spices, to ward off evil spirits, bad luck and ill health. During Roman times, the bride and groom wore floral garlands, signifying new life and hope for fertility. It is still popular today for the bride to Toss the Bouquet over her head and into a group of single girls. The lucky girl who catches the bouquet will be the next to fall in love and marry.
The Father Giving Away the Bride came about due to arranged marriages, where the bride was considered property. Today, it represents the approval by the father of the bride’s choice, as he offers her hand to the groom in marriage.
The Wedding Ring is traditionally worn on the third finger of the left hand,as in Roman times it was believed that the vein in that finger, runs directly to the heart, binding the bride and groom’s hearts and destiny forever.
The Honeymoon custom began in Northern Europe. The groom needed to kidnap his bride, and keep her for one month, or one “moon”, to consider her to be his wife. He was supplied with honey and mead , by the bride’s father, with the hope of keeping her docile enough to manage this…hence the name “honeymoon.”
There are many more ancient customs and traditions surrounding the wonderful institution of Marriage, and I’m sure, many different versions to the ones I have just shared with you. I can’t guarantee that any or all are true…Some may be myths, some may be legends.