17 Mar

The History of Wedding Traditions

Many of today’s popular wedding ceremony and reception traditions can be traced to ancient Egyptian and European customs, much like the history of wedding cake.  These were often based on symbolism, superstition, religion, and folklore. Although the exact organ and usefulness of many of these early wedding traditions are not always clear, popular acceptance has allowed them to flourish. Besides, many of these wedding traditions are just plain fun!

The Ring
To some this is one of the single most important elements of the wedding all together. Exchanging of the rings is the focal point of the ceremony where vows are said and promises are made. According to some historians, the Egyptians set the standard for the phrasing ‘without beginning , without end’ in describing the significance of wedding rings. Around 3,000 B.C. the Egyptian rings were made of woven hemp, which constantly wore out and needed replacement. Romans originally used iron, but gold is a popular option in modern times for a symbol of all that is pure. Diamonds were first used by Italians who believed that it was created from the flames of love. In some European cultures, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. In other culture, an engagement ring is worn on the left hand and the wedding ring is worn on the right.  

Photo provided by Jennifer Driscoll Photography

Bouquet and Bouquet Toss
Surprisingly, wedding bouquets were once made of strong herbs such as thyme and garlic – which was meant to frighten away evil spirits. In ancient times, brides were thought of as exceptionally lucky on their wedding day. Guests would chase after the bride to tear away a small piece of her dress as a souvenir to take home (a little good luck for themselves).  The bride’s tossing of the bouquet grew from many bride’s want to offer a good luck souvenir and preserve their special wedding clothes.

Garter and Garter Toss
Did you know that brides originally tossed the garter? Garters were the item tossed long before wedding bouquets came into the picture. During the 14th century this custom changed after Brides became tired of fending off guests trying to remove the garter themselves! The tradition of the garter itself began when wedding guests would try to steal the couple’s clothing in the middle of the night and fling them at the couple. The first person to hit the bride or groom on the head was supposedly the next person to marry (or so the legend goes!)

Photo provided by Cory & Jackie Photography

The First Dance
It has evolved into a modern-day wedding tradition, but the roots of a first dance did not originate from weddings themselves. In the days of kings and queens, the first dance was used to open a ball or a special event. This special occasion was led by the guest of honor and typically someone high up on the social ladder or of royal decent. Much like what we know of the history of wedding cakes, the tradition of the first dance also originates from overseas.

In the past ballroom dancing was a skill that many people had. It was even a part of the educational system at one point. Today we don’t have near as many adults who have trained in the skill of ballroom dance, but some couples opt for a few dance lessons before their wedding day so they can impress their guests with a choreographed routine.

The style of dance is a personal choice for the couple. It’s an opportunity for the couple to not only express their love for one another during this special moment, but also an opportunity to showcase their personal style. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to take part in this tradition. In current times couple will ‘slow dance’, swaying gracefully together. However, first dances do not need to be slow either. An upbeat song with a fun beat is also a great way to get the party started.

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