Wedding Traditions

Ever wondered how all those traditions associated with weddings came to be?  Couples have been getting married for thousands of years, and many traditions associated with the ceremony began as ancient rituals to bless the marriage with fortune and children, and to guard against evil forces.  Taking a look at ancient traditions helps to explain some of today's accepted practices, and when it comes to thinking of what style your wedding might take, looking to the past might even provide some inspiration to let your imagination run free.

Veils - Bridal veils may be a throwback to the times when eager grooms would simply fling a blanket over the bride's head and carry her off (sounds like little more than kidnapping doesn't it?!).  Alternatively, they might date from Roman times, when a veil was worn to guard against evil spirits.  Another idea is that during arranged marriages in the past, a bride's face was covered until after the vows in case the groom did not like what he saw and changed his mind!

Best Man and Bridesmaids - The idea of having a best man to attend the groom has a long history. In Saxon times he may have been a partner in crime, aiding and abetting in the kidnapping of the hapless bride.  A major part of his job was to protect the groom from bad luck and to ensure that he arrived safely at the church, much like today.  Traditionally, the role of the bridesmaids was to protect the bride and help her to dress.  Bridesmaids' dresses often mirrored the bride's as a ploy to confuse the evil spirits so they could not be sure which the real bride was.

Flowers & Favours - The true lovers' knot was a popular motif for wedding dresses and cakes in medieval times.  Brightly coloured ribbons knotted together represented the ties of love and marriage, and the flowers men wear as buttonholes today are a modern relic of the knots.  The tradition of giving guests something to remember the wedding by dates back hundreds of years.  Up until the early 1990s, guests were likely to be given five sugared almonds tied in netting or muslin. The almonds may be outdated now and there are so many amazing choices available for bombonniere these days, but actually we love the meaning behind it - the sweets each represent health, wealth, fertility, good fortune and long life.  Flowers and herbs have been carried by brides since early times as their scents were said to drive away evil spirits.  Certain flowers are particularly associated with weddings and have special significance when included in the bouquet.

Wedding Cakes - The traditional richness of the wedding cake was a symbol of fertility from Roman times.  It is still usual for the bride and groom to cut the first slice together, and this is said to ensure a fruitful marriage.  At one time, the cake was broken over the bride's head (excuse me, her hair?) while guests scrambled about for pieces which were thought lucky.  That’s a tradition we’re not sorry to see the back of.  An old custom suggested unmarried girls should sleep with a slice of wedding cake beneath their pillow if they wished to dream of their future husband.  The familiar three-tier wedding cake we see so often today is said to have been originally inspired by the unusual shape of the 70-metre-high spire on St Bride's Church in Fleet Street, London.

So now you know!  What do you think?  Are you inspired to take any of these on for your wedding?  Or have you changed you mind about details you thought you wanted?  Let us know in the comments below :)