I thought I’d do a little research and quickly turned up some fun info to share with everyone here. I’ve never been married, and I can’t recall a single wedding that I wrote into a book, so this really was an interesting search!
So many traditions, and they all have pretty cool origins. Here are a few of the most common ones:
Engagement and wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was once thought that a vein in that finger led directly to the heart.
Queen Victoria is credited with starting the Western world's white wedding dress trend in 1840—before then, brides simply wore their best dress regardless of colour.
The tradition of matching maids dates back to Roman times, when people believed evil spirits would attend the wedding in attempt to curse the bride and groom. Bridesmaids were required to dress exactly like the bride in order to confuse the spirits and bring luck to the marriage. (Maybe these spirits were short-sighted, or not too bright?)
On a similar note, brides traditionally wear veils because ancient Greeks and Romans believed they protected her from evil spirits.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue... This finds its origin in an Old English rhyme. Something old for continuity; something new represents optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity.
The tradition of a wedding cake comes from ancient Rome, where guests broke a loaf of bread over the bride's head for fertility's sake.
Have you ever wondered where the expression “tying the knot” came from? In many cultures—including Celtic, Hindu and Egyptian weddings—the hands of the bride and groom are literally tied together to demonstrate the couple's commitment to each other and their new bond.
Backtracking to the spirit thing again. According to tradition, the groom carries the bride across the threshold to valiantly protect her from evil spirits lurking below.
June weddings: the Roman goddess Juno rules over marriage and childbirth, hence the popularity of June weddings.
The honeymoon has its roots in history and legend, too: Ancient Norse bridal couples went into hiding after the wedding, and a family member would bring them a cup of honey wine for 30 days—or one moon—which is how the term "honeymoon" originated.
Other things of note:
How did June come to be the most popular wedding month? If you dig you will discover that there are some practical notions behind this modern-day wedding trend.
Harvest: In the past, couples often chose to marry in accordance to their peak harvest time. Having a June wedding meant that a possible Summer pregnancy would still be early enough in the season that a wife could help out with manual work during that year’s harvest period. (No surprise in this thinking, is there?) It also meant that after a Spring birth, the recovered bride would be in good enough health to assist in the next year's harvest. (Always have to be planning for the work that needs to be done!)
Cleanliness: The "annual bath" – before we went in for daily bathing, it was a luxury reserved as once-a-year event that the that most of the population observed during the last part of May or beginning of June. As expected, right after their "annual bath", many couples decided to tie the knot since each person was probably their most presentable (and less fragrant) during this time. No further comment needed, is there?
Weddings: Customs and Traditions
Although engagement rings have been popular through the ages, it wasn't until Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented a diamond to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 that the tradition of offering the most enduring gem on Earth became popular. These days, the majority of brides receive diamond engagement rings.
The Time and the Place:
Ancient Greeks used pig entrails to determine the luckiest day to marry.
The Japanese traditionally looked to an ancient astrological calendar for propitious days.
In early U.S. history, Wednesday was the luckiest day for weddings. Friday was avoided as the "hangman's day."
Sunday used to be a popular wedding day; it was the one day most people were free from work. Puritans in the seventeenth century put a stop to this, believing it was improper to be festive on the Sabbath. Today, Saturdays are busiest, despite this old rhyme: Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday best of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, Saturday for no luck at all.
June is still the most popular month to marry, followed by August, July, May, and September. The goddess Juno was the protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing, so a wedding in Juno's month was considered most auspicious. The idea of June weddings also comes from the Celtic calendar. On the Cross-Quarter Day of Beltane, or May Day (May 1), young couples would pair off to court for 3 months and then be wed on the next Cross-Quarter Day (Lammas Day, August 1). Youths being impatient, the waiting period was shortened to mid-June, and the popularity of June weddings was ensured.
The Wedding Party: According to tradition, only an unmarried woman could be a maid of honor, and only the brother, best friend, or father of the groom could be the best man.
The original purpose of the bridesmaid and the best man was to aid in the capture of the bride, get her to church on time, and keep any hostile family members away! Now the bridesmaids usher the guests to their seats, the best man carries the ring, and offers a toast.
Once the flower girl's role was not simply to spread petals down the aisle but, with her shield of virginity, to protect the bride from the Devil. Today, the ring bearer can be a girl, boy, or even a dog!
For a Smooth Send-Off: Rice is the latest in a long list of fertility symbols that have been thrown at newlyweds. Over the centuries, guests have tossed cakes, grain, fruit, sweetmeats, and biscuits. Nowadays, it's common to shower the couple with rice or the more environmentally-friendly birdseed. Another idea is to toss dried rose petals.
Some great info, use it wisely. *wink*