The Origin of Wedding Traditions

The Origin of Wedding Traditions

As mentioned in some of our earlier posts, we now know that wedding rings symbolise unity and that in medieval times the veil was used to protect the Bride but have you ever wondered why the Bride’s family sit on the left and the Groom’s on the right, or why many guests decide to ‘toast’ the happy couple?

I thought it might be interesting to find out where such customs came from and why we still use many of these different practises today. I have touched upon just a few…

The Bridal Bouquet

In olden times, the Bridal bouquet was made up of herbs and spices instead of flowers. It was believed that these strongly aromatic plants would ward off any evil spirits intent on possessing the Bride.

Why on the Left?

Guests often ask why the Bride’s family is seated on the left side and the Groom’s side on the right. The tradition stems from medieval times when men wore swords on their right side. They believed they needed that side free in order to draw their sword and protect their Bride.

The Wedding Kiss

In Roman times, a legal bond or contract was always sealed with a kiss. Therefore, when newlyweds kiss, it represents an agreement to enter into a life-long contract with each other. Some believe the wedding kiss symbolises an exchange of one’s soul with another and it is considered much more than a sign of affection and endearment.

The Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes are traditionally white and this is thought to represent purity, and the sweet flavour of the cake (as it is usually either a fruit or a sponge cake) symbolises caring and nurturance between the couple.

In ancient Rome, they used a loaf of bread as a wedding cake. The loaf of bread was broken over the Bride’s head, and guests would then scramble for the crumbs. They believed that good luck would be bestowed upon those who bought home any crumbs, and that putting crumbs of a wedding cake under one’s pillow would make the guest dream of their future spouse.


The Greeting Line

The reason behind the greeting line was that in ancient times it was believed that the newly married couple were blessed, and those who touched them would receive good luck and fortune.

The Wedding Toast

Ever wondered why they call it a ‘toast’? It comes from the French custom of putting a piece of bread at the bottom of a wine goblet. The chalice was passed around to honored guests and the guest who received it last would then eat the bread.

Throwing the Bouquet

Towards the end of the wedding reception, single ladies are often invited to come up to try and catch the Bride’s bouquet. This is a custom that represents which lady will be the next to be married.

Garter Toss

The garter toss works in much the same way, but it applies to the single men. The man who catches the garter is believed to be the next to marry. This custom originated in the 14th century when it was believed lucky to have a piece of the newlyweds’ clothing, and it is an extremely popular American tradition.

Becca at Clearwell Castle


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