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What Are the Origins of Some of the Most Popular Wedding Traditions?

Wedding traditions hold a special place in ceremonies, and they have become so ingrained in our culture now, we don’t even question them. But have you ever wondered what the origins of some of the most popular wedding traditions are? Here we’ve put together the meanings of some of the most time-honoured wedding traditions.

Throwing the Bouquet

The bride throwing her bouquet is a tradition most of us are familiar with, and the superstition is that the person who catches it will be the next to get married. The origins of this particular tradition are a little different, however. In ancient times, it was believed that obtaining a piece of the bride's attire would bring good luck. To ward off eager guests, brides began tossing their bouquets as a distraction. Today, this tradition is thankfully more about passing on good fortune and happiness to another.

Bridesmaids and Groomsmen/Best Man

Being part of the wedding party is an honour, whether you are a groomsman, bridesmaid, the best man or the maid of honour. The positions are often reserved for the closest friends or family to the couple, but the origin of these roles is very interesting. Originating from ancient Rome, bridesmaids and groomsmen were meant to confuse evil spirits by dressing similarly to the bride and groom. The best man's role dates back to mediaeval times when he served as a protector against potential bride theft.

Giving Away the Bride

The bride usually walks down the aisle hand in hand with her father or a father-figure, and she is ‘given away’ to the groom. The custom of giving away the bride traces back to arranged marriages, where fathers would transfer ownership to the groom. The tradition has evolved, and is much more about the symbolism of familial blessing, rather than any type of ownership.

Wedding Cake

Most people love cake, but why is the wedding cake such an important consideration for betrothed couples? Once again, this tradition dates back to Ancient Rome, where wheat or barley cakes were broken over the bride's head for fertility's sake. Over time, this evolved into tiered cakes symbolising prosperity and happiness. Today, the cake-cutting ceremony represents the couple's first joint task as partners.

The Bride's Veil

Bridal veils vary today in terms of their size and style, and sometimes are not even worn at all, but they are still staple pieces of bridal attire. Veils were initially worn to protect brides from evil spirits or to symbolise modesty and purity. In modern weddings, veils often serve as a dramatic accessory, enhancing the bride's beauty and mystique.

Cans Tied to Car Bumper

Rooted in rural customs, tying cans to the car bumper symbolises a noisy send-off to ward off evil spirits, which seems to be a common theme among these wedding traditions! While the noise has practical origins, it's now a fun and festive part of the post-wedding celebration.

Flower Girls

In ancient Rome, flower girls scattered herbs and grains to symbolise fertility and prosperity. Today, they add an adorable touch, symbolising the innocence and purity of childhood, while also giving a role within the ceremony to a young family member or the child of a close friend.

Wedding Rings

Almost all weddings involve the exchange of rings between the married couple. While there are no rules as to the style and colour of a wedding ring, the circular shape of them symbolises eternity and everlasting love. One ‘rule’ that remains in place, however, is which finger we put the wedding ring on, and there is a reason for this. Many ancient cultures believed the ring finger had a vein directly connected to the heart, nicknamed vena amoris or the “vein of love”.

Wedding traditions connect us to our past and infuse our ceremonies with depth and meaning. While many of the traditions are rooted in superstitions that we no longer carry, it’s always nice to understand where these enduring quirks originate from.

If you are getting married and haven’t chosen your wedding venue yet, have you considered the Winter Gardens? Our stunning venue has indoor and outdoor options suitable for both traditional ceremonies and unique weddings, so please get in touch to learn more!

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