If you’re planning a wedding then you already know that there are a million wedding traditions to consider, with friends and family inventing ones of their own to add to the pantheon. Whether you want to include them in your wedding day is another matter but here’s some fun facts about the origins of five of them.
The tradition of showering the happy couple with confetti is one that has travelled around the world from its origins in Italy. Modern day confetti is normally paper or petals which makes it biodegradable (definitely advised), but in the past flower petals, rice and grain have all been used. It’s meant to symbolise rain which is a symbol of prosperity, fertility and good fortune which are all good things but most of all, it’s good fun to watch the bride and groom covered in a good showering of it!
Brides have traditionally carried bouquets of flowers, along with their bridesmaids, for their scent as much as for the fact that they look beautiful. In fact, they are almost a part of the wedding outfit now for most brides but in ancient times, it was believed that they symbolised new beginnings, fidelity and fertility. Strong scents of herbs and powerfully scented flowers were added to ward off evil spirits (and if we’re going to be uncouth to make the bride smell better in ages where personal hygiene was a little less rigorous than today). A groom would wear a matching buttonhole in the same way that a medieval knight wore the colours of his love to make public his affections.
A lot of wedding traditions seem to stem from the need to deflect the attention of evil spirits away from the bride and groom so it’s nice that wedding rings are all about love. The wedding band has been long seen as a symbol of everlasting love as a circle with no beginning and no end. It’s worn on the third finger of the left hand as that was believed to contain a vein that linked directly to the heart – OK, that’s not actually true but it’s a lovely idea.
The wedding cake has been a part of wedding days since medieval times so it certainly has a long history in being part of the celebrations. Of course, the original cakes were quite different to those that grace nuptials today with the original ones being much more similar to bread. The bride and groom share a piece to symbolise their union before offering to all their guests to share in both the cake and their married happiness. Today lots of couples freeze the top tier of their cake to enjoy on their first anniversary but often it was saved for the party that celebrated the christening of their first child. Cutting the cake has a little more of a racey origin with it originally being carried by the bride alone to symbolise the loss of virginity – the groom only got involved as cakes got larger and the bride was unable to cut them by themselves. Now, we keep up the tradition to create that lovely photo opportunity.
There’s a lovely old rhyme that I’m sure you’ve heard around weddings, ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…# Here’s what that is all about…
Something old – represents the ties to the bride’s family and her past life
Something new – the exciting new life to come with her husband
Something borrowed – something on loan from someone with a successful marriage to pass on the good lucky
Something blue – the blue item represents loyalty, faithfulness and purity.
There is a last line to the rhyme that’s not so commonly used which is ‘and a silver sixpence in her shoe’. Obviously you don’t get sixpences as common currency these days but you can buy special wedding ones online if you’d like to slip one into your shoe for luck on your big day.