Photo:

The History Behind Bridal Traditions Still Practiced Today

List Rules
Vote up the things brides do that have the most interesting backstories.

The months leading up to the day you get hitched are full of traditions. From diamond engagement rings, to proper bridal showers, to rowdy bachelorette parties, brides-to-be stay busy as their nuptials loom.

But how did these customs come to be? Some go hand-in-hand with wedding superstitions to offset nuptial disasters, while others have notably rooted historical backgrounds. Regardless, weddings are still as prominent and favored today as they were centuries ago - just like the bridal traditions we continue to celebrate.

Photo:

  • Brides Tossed Bouquets In Medieval Europe To Stop People From Ripping Apart The Bridal Gown
    Photo: Poul C. Poulsen / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    1
    1,587 VOTES

    Brides Tossed Bouquets In Medieval Europe To Stop People From Ripping Apart The Bridal Gown

    In medieval Europe, it was common practice for single women to chase down the bride and rip keepsakes off her dress, leaving her in bits and pieces of what she married in. A bride did not expect to wear her wedding dress again, and the garment was seen as good luck for single women - a type of fertility charm. However, as years went on, the materials and labor to create a wedding dress became more expensive, making it more traditional for women to keep them.  

    To create a distraction and prevent guests from ripping the bride's dress apart, objects were thrown, one of which became the bouquet. Symbolizing fertility, the bouquet was a cheaper option, as the bride would not wish to keep it.

    1,587 votes
  • Queen Victoria Inspired The Tradition Of The White Wedding Dress
    Photo: Nhật Tường / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    2
    1,114 VOTES

    Queen Victoria Inspired The Tradition Of The White Wedding Dress

    Before Queen Victoria's 1841 wedding ceremony, it was common practice for brides to wear bright, colorful dresses they could use again for other occasions. The 20-year-old bride chose to wear white to highlight the delicate lace of her gown - contrary to popular belief that it was to signify purity.

    Although it was rare, prior to Victoria's wedding, women wore white on their wedding days to show wealth - indicating the bride's family could afford to have the dress cleaned. Victoria asked "that no one else wear white to the wedding" aside from her bridesmaids, starting a trend still in practice today.

    1,114 votes
  • Bridesmaids Would Wear The Same Color As Each Other And The Bride, To Act As Decoys
    Photo: H. Noel Maitland / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    3
    1,046 VOTES

    Bridesmaids Would Wear The Same Color As Each Other And The Bride, To Act As Decoys

    According to some historians, the tradition of all bridesmaids wearing the same color as one another dates back to Ancient Rome and feudal China, originating as a method to keep the bride safe. During these times, it was common for a bride to travel far to her groom's town, making her an easy target for bandits or rival suitors. With an entourage of bridesmaids dressed alike, it was harder for the bride to fall victim to an assault.

    The practice eventually evolved into a legal requirement for Romans: 10 witnesses had to attend a wedding ceremony, all dressed in matching colors, for the wedding to be considered valid. The purpose of the similarly dressed witnesses was supposedly to confuse evil spirits that might wish the couple harm.

    Although some of the spiritual associations have faded, the tradition of similarly dressed bridal parties was carried through the Victorian era, when Queen Victoria had her 12 bridesmaids wear matching white dresses to complement her satin gown.

    1,046 votes
  • 4
    1,020 VOTES

    Fathers Started Walking Their Daughters Down The Aisle To Make Sure The Groom Didn't Back Out

    Weddings were considered business deals between families centuries ago, creating the idea that marriage was more of a financial decision than anything else. This notion of making marriage a business transaction is what led to fathers being so involved in the ceremonies, as their presence was necessary for things to run smoothly.

    According to wedding historian Susan Waggoner, "this custom stems from the days of arranged marriages when a father’s looming presence was a good way to prevent the groom from backing out.” While this is no longer the reason fathers walk their daughters down the aisle, the tradition of doing so has become more of a sentimental thing.

    1,020 votes
  • Bouquets Were Originally Meant To Ward Off Evil Spirits
    Photo: Paolobros2000 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    5
    847 VOTES

    Bouquets Were Originally Meant To Ward Off Evil Spirits

    While it is now common practice for brides to carry flowers as they walk down the aisle, this wasn't always the case. In the Middle Ages, the bouquet comprised strong-smelling herbs and spices to ward off evil spirits, bad luck, and ill health. Herbs like dill and basil masked the smell of body odor, and were consumed by the bride and groom during the reception because people believed they increased sexual desire. 

    As time went on, the purpose of bouquets evolved, and it was during the Victorian era that flowers became part of them. Queen Victoria popularized the modern version of the bridal bouquet, carrying a tiny round clutch of flowers in a filigree holder filled with moss and orange blossoms when she married Prince Albert.

    847 votes
  • The Wedding Veil Was Originally For Obscuring The Bride's Features
    Photo: Vandyck / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    6
    659 VOTES

    The Wedding Veil Was Originally For Obscuring The Bride's Features

    The origins of the wedding veil vary depending on the source, but many experts agree the accessory can be traced to Ancient Rome. They believe the bride wore a veil as she walked down the aisle to hide herself from evil spirits that wanted to snatch her happiness. Once the marriage ceremony was completed, the veil was lifted because the bride had beaten said evil spirits. 

    According to wedding historian Susan Waggoner, in addition to warding off unwanted spirits, the veil "wrapped brides from head to toe to represent the delivery of a modest and untouched maiden." Another reported use was to mask the bride's face from the groom in arranged marriages; thus, he wouldn't see her face until the union was sealed.

    It was deemed unlucky in pre-18th century times for the bride and groom to see each other prior to the ceremony, so they would both spend the night alone in an attempt to keep the groom from backing out upon seeing his unidentified bride-to-be prior to the ceremony.

    659 votes