The tradition of two people joining together in matrimony is a tale as old as time - you get married, you throw a party, and you live happily ever after (hopefully). But how did the customs of wedding cakes, bridesmaids, bouquet tosses, and white wedding dresses come to be? Some are closely related to wedding superstitions, while others have surprisingly deep historical roots. Nevertheless, weddings are still as popular today as they were thousands of years ago, as are the wedding traditions that we still carry on.
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'Tying The Knot’ Comes From A Celtic Tradition Of Binding The Couple’s Hands
The phrase "tying the knot" dates back to a medieval wedding tradition known as the handfasting ceremony. The handfasting ceremony is an ancient Celtic practice that involves binding couples together in matrimony by tying knots of cloth around their hands - making two become one. The binding would usually involve tying a knot for each vow, creating a keepsake for the couple.
This ritual is still in practice today, often taking place outdoors, with nature surrounding the new couple. Now, handfasting is usually an extra element of a wedding ceremony, keeping an old tradition alive.
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The Best Man Was Really The Best Sword Fighter
In centuries past, men resorted to capturing the bride-to-be from her family if they disapproved of the marriage. To stop anyone from recapturing the bride-to-be, the groom (and his party) were prepared to sword fight.
The best man would act as the groom's backup, in case the bride's loved ones tried to take her back from the groom or if she tried to run away. The best man was chosen based on his ability to sword fight, and he would serve as the groom's armed guard throughout the ceremony.
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Ancient Egyptians Saw Circular Wedding Rings As A Symbol Of Eternity, And Wore Them On The Finger They Considered Closest To The Heart
The tradition of wearing a wedding band dates way back to the ancient Egyptians. The ancient Egyptians believed a circle was the symbol of eternity, and to marry meant to spend eternity with one another. The rings they exchanged were made out of braided reeds and worn on the left-hand ring finger - which supposedly had a vein that ran directly to the heart. Though this "love vein," later called vena amoris, isn't actually a thing, the idea of the ring finger stuck around to modern day.
Rings continued to be a part of wedding ceremonies as the ancient Romans began to use rings in lieu of giving the bride money or a valuable object. Centuries later, diamonds first made their appearance on engagement rings, with the first recorded diamond engagement ring being given out in 1477 by Archduke Maximilian of Austria. This continued on as a popular trend, with more than 80% of American brides receiving diamond engagement rings yearly.
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The Bouquet Was Tossed 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 pieces off of her dress, leaving her in bits and pieces of what she was wed in. A bride did not expect to wear her wedding dress again, and the dress was seen as good luck for single women - a type of fertility charm. However, as years went on, the materials and labor to make 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.
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Bridesmaids Would Wear The Same Color As Each Other And The Bride, To Act As Decoy Brides
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 have to travel far to her groom's town, making her an easy target for bandits or rival suitors. With an entourage of bridesmaids dressed just alike, it made it harder for the bride to fall victim to an assault.
The practice eventually evolved into a legal requirement for Romans, as they had to have 10 witnesses 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. Though some of the spiritual associations may 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.
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Something Old, New, Borrowed, And Blue Was Meant To Protect Against A Curse
"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoe," is the traditional wedding rhyme that describes the objects a bride should have on her wedding day for good luck. This custom has been followed for centuries, starting as a Victorian-era rhyme that came out of the English county Lancashire.
Back then, "something blue" was usually a garter and used to protect against a curse passed through a malevolent glare that could make the bride infertile. "Something borrowed" was usually an undergarment from a woman who already had children, supposedly tricking the curse into thinking the bride was already fertile. Though often left out of the rhyme in modern day, a sixpence coin in your shoe symbolized prosperity for the new couple.