Have you ever wondered why the bride stands to the left of the groom, or why the wedding ring is worn on the third finger of the left hand? The origins and meaning behind some of our societies’ most cherished wedding traditions may surprise you. Beginning around 1000 A.D., marriages were often nothing more than trading chips used in bartering land, social status, political alliances, or money between families! The wedding traditions known today can be traced back to Ancient and European customs and are seated in deep in old tradition. Some the these will suprise you… Let’s explore!
The term Bride comes from old English for the name for “cook”, while the term Groom is short for Bridegroom.
The term Wedlock comes from English orgin meaning “to pledge, covenant to do something, marry” and “lock” comes from the old English term “lac,” which means “to carry out an action.” The original meaning wedlock was the pledging of property, as payment for his daughter, to the bride’s father.
Engagement Rings, or betrothal rings, date back to the ancient days of marriage by purchase when gold rings were circulated as currency. The groom-to-be would offer his bride-to-be a gold ring both as his partial payment and as a symbol of his intentions. Later, the Diamond Engagement Ring was given by medieval Italians in the belief that the diamond was created in the Flames of Love.
Marriags Announcements are a custom that date back nearly a thousand years. In the past, the purpose of an announcement was to give the members of the community an opportunity to object to the marriage, either because the prospective bride or groom was already married, already betrothed, or for some other justifiable reason. (Luckily, that is not the case now!)
The Ring Finger has many possible orgins. One says it dates back to the 17th century. Presumably, at Christian weddings, the priest touched the three fingers on the left hand, while reciting “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Another theory claims the custom dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was believed that the “ring finger” followed the vena amoris (vein of love), which runs from this finger directly to the heart. The Romans, too, believed that the vein in the third finger runs directly to the heart. The wedding ring is a never-ending circle, which symbolizes everlasting love.
The Ring Pillow has its origin with the pillow that traditionally carried the coronation crown for royalty. The tradition has evolved as a symbolic way to prominently present the most precious of gifts.
The tradition of the Best Man originates in ancient times as marriages were historically accomplished by capture (the groom would kidnap the woman), a warrior friend was often employed. This Best Man would help the groom fight off other men who wanted the captured woman, and would also help in preventing the woman’s family from finding the couple. (What!?)
The Wedding Veil has a few theoretical orgins. When marriages were arranged by family members, the newlyweds very rarely were allowed to see one another. Family members exchanging a dowry were afraid that if the Groom didn’t like the appearance of the Bride’s face, he might refuse to marry her. This is why the Father of the Bride “gave the Bride away” to the Groom at the actual wedding ceremony. Only after lifting her veil just prior to the ceremony did the Groom see the Bride’s face for the first time! Early Greek and Roman Brides wore red or yellow veils to represent fire, and to ward off demons. And, back to that capture theme . . . another theory is that the veil is reminiscent of the act of throwing a sack over the prospective bride’s head while she was being carried off.
The Groom’s Butonniere is a nod to medieval times when a knight wore his lady’s “colors,” proudly displayed for all to see.
The Flower Girl and the Tradition of Walking Before the Bride and Tossing Petals date back to old English tradition. It was customary then that the entire bridal party would walk behind a small girl as she tossed flowers . . . all the way to the church.
Some traditions are rooted in superstition and closely connected with good and bad luck. One superstition proports that it is bad luck for a groom to see his bride on their wedding day. Another, also well know superstition is the tradition of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a lucky sixpence in her shoe.” This most familiar of wedding-related sayings dates back to Victorian times.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue: This superstition of the Bride wearing something that fits each of these four categories originated in Europe to ward off evil spirits. Something Old: This tradition symbolized the sense of continuity while making the transition from a single person to that of a married couple. Something New: This tradition symbolized that marriage represented a transition to adulthood. Something Borrowed: This tradition symbolized the popular belief that by borrowing something from a happily married couple, good fortune would follow the newlyweds. Something Blue: In ancient Israel, blue was the border color of the Bride’s dress, symbolizing purity, constancy and fidelity.
“A Silver Sixpence in her Shoe” represents the wishes of loved ones to the bride, in the hope that she will have both financial security and happiness.
Stag Parties are the male equivalent of the Bridal Shower. Roman empire soldiers would feast with the Groom the night before his wedding to say goodbye to his irresponsible days of bachelorhood, and to renew their vows of allegiance to their friendships.
Bride on the left, Groom on the right: When the groom fought off warriors who also wanted his bride, he would hold onto her with his left hand, while fighting them off with his sword in his right hand (we suppose there were no Southpaws in those days of yore), which is why the bride stands on the left, and the groom on the right.
With the ceremony concluded the bride and groom have tied the knot, an expression which dates back to when, in ancient times, the bride and groom literally were tied at the waist with wreathes to signify that they had been united. Another piece of bridal lore tells us that in ancient Roman times, women wore girdles made from long strips of material. Buttons, hooks and snaps having not yet been invented, the girdles were tied in knots to keep them secure. On a bride’s wedding day, the bride’s attendants made sure the knots were tied well and could be untied easily, on the wedding night.