8 Things You Never Knew About The Tradition Of Marriage
Why do we wear metal bands on our fingers when tying the knot? And what really is the purpose of having bridesmaids? From battling off disgruntled ex-suitors to swapping souls, so many aspects of modern weddings are rooted in age-old traditions.
Here are 8 things you probably didn’t know about the tradition of marriage:
1. Wearing white wasn’t always a thing
Brides typically wore red on their wedding day right up until the mid-1800s. It wasn’t until Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert in 1840 that the new trend caught on, when she strayed from tradition and wore a white dress that was said to represent wealth.
2. Bridesmaids have a more important role than you think
The purpose of having bridesmaids wasn’t always just to support the bride, but to dress similarly to her in order to confuse ex-suitors and ward off evil spirits. This dates back to early Roman times, where the bridesmaids would form a shield around the bride as she walked to the groom’s village, ready to step in if any bitter ex’s tried to hurt the bride or steal her dowry.
3. …so does the Best Man!
The best man also had a pretty intense – and somewhat disturbing – job in wedding days gone by. He was tasked with making sure the bride didn’t escape during the ceremony, or even kidnap her if the bride’s parents objected to the marriage and tried to take her back (yes, really). The man for the job had to be the strongest when it came to using weapons to fend off enemies at the ceremony, hence the term ‘best’ was added to the title.
4. The cute history behind the wedding ring finger
The ancient Greeks believed that a vein in the third finger of the left hand ran directly to the heart, and this is why we use it as our wedding ring finger. Aww!
5. Throwing stuff in the air at weddings dates way back
The tradition of throwing things in the air at weddings dates back centuries, including rice for fertility, bouquets for protection and garters for luck. It was also good luck for people to eat crumbs off the floor from the bride’s first bite of wedding cake, or even rip off chunks of her dress!
6. The truth behind the veil
Veils were originally worn by Ancient Greek and Roman brides to protect them from evil spirits, as well as to preserve their modesty. In other cultures, its function was to hide the identity of the bride until the ceremony of arranged marriages, or even trick the groom into marrying someone he may have deemed…unattractive. Well played, father of the the bride!
7. Something old, new, borrowed and blue
The tradition of finding old, new, borrowed and blue items originates from the Victorian era and was said to bring good fortune to the bride. ‘Something old’ connected the bride to her past and family, ‘something new’ symbolised her new life, ‘something borrowed’ was taken from a happily married couple so their luck could be passed on, and ‘something blue’ signified loyalty and truth in the relationship (like the phrase ‘true blue’). An additional part of the rhyme was ‘a sixpence in my shoe’, which was also said to be good luck.
8. Kissing is actually soul swapping
The wedding kiss actually symbolises the bride and groom swapping souls. This Christian belief was even predicated by the Romans, who used a legally binding kiss to seal a contract. Weirdly, brides in the Church of England had to kiss the minister before her groom!
By Abby Williams