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Weird History

The History Behind 12 Wedding Traditions Still Practiced Today

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Vote up the most interesting origins of these timeless traditions.

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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    1,647 VOTES

    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.

  • Brides Stood On The Left Side So The Groom Could Easily Draw His Sword
    Photo: FOTO:FORTEPAN / Hámori Gyula / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0
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    Brides Stood On The Left Side So The Groom Could Easily Draw His Sword

    The historically known practice of "marriage by capture," where a man captures a woman to make her his bride, has been practiced for thousands of years. Though it may seem like a long-gone custom of the past, the practice still exists among some cultures in Africa and Central Asia.

    In the Western world, its legacy continues on in an unsuspecting way - where the bride and groom stand during a wedding ceremony. As is common in modern nuptials, the groom was to stand on the right and the bride on the left. This was so the groom could keep his right arm free to draw his sword, in case someone came to take the (captured) bride away.

  • Queen Victoria Inspired The Tradition Of The White Wedding Dress
    Photo: Nhật Tường / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
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    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 that could be used 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.

    Though it was rare, prior to Victoria's wedding, white was worn by women on their wedding days to show wealth - showing 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.

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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.