wedding couple cutting the cake

Weddings are full of traditions, no matter how alternative, but do we know where they actually come from?  Here is a potted history of ten popular wedding traditions in this country…


This wedding tradition stems from the days when a daughter was literally the father’s property until he gave her away to a husband – and usually at a price – I mean WTF?!!  Whilst this tradition comes from a very dated practice, it can still be considered an honour and respect for the bride to ask her father, or her mother and father, or even a close friend or relative, to walk with her down the aisle.

wedding traditions - giving away the bride


There’s lots of history about the tradition of the veil, and over time it was thought as a way to disguise the bride from evil spirits – ur.. okay.  The other reason I found out was that the veil kept the bride hidden from the groom until the deed was done, and so he had no idea what she looked like until he unveiled her – which also symbolised his ownership.  Some veils were apparently designed to weigh brides down so that they couldn’t run away from their new owner, I mean husband.  All this is definitely food for thought for the 4th wave feminist bride.

wedding traditions - the wedding veil


It is often though that the white wedding dress is intended to symbolize purity and virginity, although this is not the case.  Blue was the colour that the Virgin Mary is often seen wearing in paintings and most women got married in colourful dresses, and quite often wore red before the mid 1800s.   White only became popular because Queen Victoria wore it when she got married to Albert back in 1840, and since then it has become the norm.

wedding traditions and what they mean - the white wedding dress


Back in those golden olden days a wedding needed 10 witnesses to be considered legally binding, so this is thought to have been sort of a proto-wedding party.  But what is their matching outfits all about? Well, the bridesmaids not only had to dress the same as each other, but all had to dress like the bride!  This was done in order to confuse those evil spirits and jealous ex-lovers who might try to kidnap the bride if they knew which one she was! Same goes for the boys in their matching penguin suits.  The bridesmaids also helped scare any further evil spirits by carrying bunches of garlic and herbs down the aisle, which has evolved into the stunning bouquets that brides often carry nowadays.


The original job of the Best Man was to be extra muscle for the groom in case they had to kidnap the bride from disapproving parents! He stands guard next to the groom through the ceremony just in case anyone attacks, or in case the bride tries to make a run for it after seeing the kind of man she is expected to marry.


This wedding tradition stemmed from the past when guests would try to psychically rip pieces off the bride’s dress as it was seen that grabbing a piece of the bride would bring you luck.  The bride would throw the bouquet to try to distract the flock of weirdos ripping at her wedding dress and that’s where throwing the bouquet came from.


Weddings use to end with the groom breaking a loaf of bread over the bride’s head to symbolise fertility, and guests would scramble to pick up the crumbs to take home for – you guessed it – good luck. Then, the cake became known as the bride’s cake as she would be the one to hand out slices to the guests to take home to share her good luck and fertility.  The ‘bride’s cake’ matched the bride, hence Queenie V making the traditional white cake very fashionable.  Fruit cake showed off status because dried fruits were a luxury and the bigger more impressive the cake the more money you had.


Being that us humans use to be a very superstitious bunch it’s no surprise that this fun tradition is based on an old rhyme; “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” Something old was supposed to tie her to her family and her past, and the new as the property of a new family. Something borrowed – ideally from a successfully married wife to bring her good fortune, and blue stands for love, purity and fidelity.  The sixpence bit isn’t really quoted these days, but it referred to wealth back in the day.


This is a tradition that most couples still honour (even if they stuff all the others!) This tradition stems from the days of arranged marriages, and the couple were kept from seeing each other until the ceremony to prevent either of them legging it.


Throwing confetti has been used in Britain since the pagan times, and you may have guessed by now, it was thrown on the couple to promote prosperity and fertility.  When it first began it was usually rice – as rice was a symbol of fertility, although as it hurt the skin so much, it was soon replaced by paper circles inspired by the French.  Being slightly environmentally conscious, flower petals were then introduced, which are still very popular today.

So there we have it, a little history about a few wedding traditions.  These days we keep some, we totally others, but most we just put our own twist on it.  If you’re brave enough to ditch more, take a peek at this blog post.. it’s a bit of a shocker: 5 controversial ideas for weddings on a budget.

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