When it comes to weddings, we love us some traditions. Everything seems to have a tradition: the diamond ring, the proposal, not seeing the bride before, saving the top of the cake, throwing the bouquet..... But does anyone know WHY we do things this way and is it really important that we follow them?
The answer to both questions is a big fat NO.
Most people have no idea where these traditions came from and why we do them. I once heard a story about a family that passed down a pot roast recipe where they cut off half the rest of the roast and set it on it's side. They did it this way without question for 4 generations. Finally, the daughter asked her great-grandmother why they did this? Did it make the roast cook quicker or softer? The great-grandmother responded, "No dear. I had to do that because the roast wouldn't fit in my pan the regular way".
Such is the way we follow wedding traditions in America. We do it because it has always been done that way. I promise you, after you learn what you are about to read, you may look at your wedding differently.
Let's get started.
Wedding dresses are white because of purity & virginity: NOPE! This tradition started when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. She was such a popular Queen that it was a huge fashion choice that ultimately crossed the ocean to us. I have watched as so many older women whisper, "she shouldn't be wearing white" or "how dare she put color on her dress. That's just not right". Well, Grandma, you are wrong. So many people judge others because of misunderstood traditions. That could be said about so many other things in our society, but I digress...
Engagements Rings Need to be a huge Diamond: Not at all true. You don't even need to get a ring to be engaged. This has become commercialized so much it has become a part of the American psyche. If you want to learn how this tradition REALLY got started, check out my blog post How Diamond Engagement Rings became one of the biggest scams in the Wedding Industry. It is amazing that people still feel they have to buy a $4,000 diamond in order to say "I Do". No you don't!
The Bride & Groom Not Seeing Each Other Before the Ceremony: Today's Brides think this tradition is so the Groom can be surprised by her beauty, collapse into tears and "all the feels!" That is not the case. This tradition is based on arranged marriages. The Bride would enter fully veiled with a blusher over her face & the Groom would Not see his wife until he lifted the veil (and it was too late to run). There is no real reason for the couple to NOT see each other before the ceremony. Now they can do "First Looks" which is when they see each other & get great pictures. They can touch, talk and kiss - not to mention going into the ceremony as a united front. It helps make the day go more smoothly and and you get pictures over with quickly. First looks are the way to go.
You Have to have a full Bridal Party with Bridesmaids, Groomsmen & honor attendants, flower girls, ring bearers OH MY! Again, nope. Back in medieval times, marriage parties had their clansmen and ladies in waiting surrounding the couple in case of marauding tribes would come and try to kidnap the bride. That's why the guys stand with their sword side showing. I kid you not. Bridesmaids were made to look alike to confuse evil spirits so they couldn't cause any unhappiness to the Bride. The Groom was always to the left of the Bride so he could protect her from kidnapping soldiers. In this day and age, we use people who are important in our lives to stand up with us, but it is not crucial to have anyone with you. As long as you have witnesses to the event, you are official.
Saturdays are the best days for weddings: This tradition was started in medival times because it was bath day. That's also why they carried flowers (often with fragrant herbs) - to help them smell better and to ward of evil spirits. Yummy. These days it seems to be easier to have weddings on a weekend because of our work-week. But marriages to do not have to be on a Saturday. You can get married on a Monday and still have the same chance of success as if you got married on a Saturday. But I do suggest bathing before :0).
You have to save the top of the cake, freeze it and eat it on your first anniversary or you will be cursed and everything will go to hell! Not so! Things may go to hell before your 1st anniversary :0). Just kidding. This tradition is just plain stupid and frankly, dangerous because you could get food poisoning. You can wrap that cake up as perfectly as they tell you and it will still get freezer burned or worse. This was originally done so you could eat the top of the cake at your first child's Christening - which of course, you pushed out quick if you were a good wife. Emily post was the one who suggested eating it on your first anniversary. You made it a year! Go get yourself a fresh cake on your anniversary. You deserve it. In fact, a lot of cake bakers offer you a coupon for a free six inch cake on your anniversary. Hey, my body is made by cake & I never turn a chance to eat it down. However, I prefer fresh and I am sure you will too. I'm 21 years into a Blissful Marriage so I am proof you can let this tradition go.
Throwing the Bouquet & Garter: This tradition is basically to find the next couple that will be married - which we all know, rarely happens. In fact, single people are making it clear that they DO NOT like to be "singled" out and some don't ever plan on being married. This is an archaic ritual that people only do because it has been done for years. Brides like to keep their bouquets now a days because they cost a fortune, hence toss bouquets. Some Brides don't like the idea of the Groom disappearing up her dress in front of all their family and friends, and most groomsmen want to catch the garter like they want to catch the plague. Actually, people used to cut pieces from the Bride's dress for luck. Try that now and I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't the Guest who got cut! In a twist to doing it the traditional way, I suggest to couples that they do the anniversary dance which is where married couples come on the dance floor & the couple married the longest is the last on the floor. The couple presents them with her bouquet and it is a wonderful moment for pictures. This has been a dying tradition for the past few years.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue: This comes from our not to distant past - the Victorian era. It was basically meant for luck for the Bride. Something Old: This represents the ties to the bride’s family and her past. Something New: is the life to come with her new husband. Something Borrowed: is an item from someone who has or has had a successful marriage to pass on the “good luck.” Something Blue: is for faithfulness, loyalty and purity. Some Brides use this custom & some do not. It has a lot of meaning behind it but is ultimately superstitious and not needed.
Carrying the Bride over the Threshold: This came from Roman times when the Groom was protecting the Bride from evil spirits in the floor that have come to curse the couple as they start their union. Personally, I think this tradition causes more back sprains and hits to head while trying to get the Bride & her huge dress through the door. But it seems to be the gentlemanly thing to do - I would just be more concerned with my Groom having pinched a nerve before we got to the wedding night!
The Wedding Shower: Just how did the tradition start to throw the Bride a party before her wedding? Most people believe it comes from a legend in Holland where a Bride's father refused to pay her dowry. So her friends and family came together to "shower" her with gifts and money so she could marry her love. It was a tradition that took off evidently. I really wish I could create one of those traditions where it happens every 10 years you are married. I could really use some more towels and sheets!
The Honeymoon: In ages past the couple had to literally hide so other tribes could not come reach the Bride before a child was conceived. This made the marriage super-duper official because no one wanted to raise another man's child. Now, couples go on a honeymoon to get over the wedding planning. They relax and start their marriage off spending time together without the fear of marauding tribes coming to steal the Bride. Unless you like that kind of thing. To each his own.
The Bachelor Party: This fun night out came from the Romans. It was the last chance the Groom got to "sew his oats" and for his buddies to feast and toast to him. It was his last bit of freedom and they partied like it was 1999. Nice eh? So throughout the years, we women got in on the fun as well. Hopefully, no one is sewing their oats one last time!
So, now that you know MOST of these traditions are based on superstitious beliefs against evil spirits and bad luck - you can choose to incorporate them into your wedding or not. And when you hear Grandma whisper that you should not wear red on your wedding day, just tell her at least she doesn't need to be afraid you will be carried off by evil spirits, fairies or demons. That should shut her up. :0)
Here's to Bliss!