Traditions have a way of becoming rules of etiquette, and fewer human rites are more imbued with tradition than weddings.
Bridal gowns, for example are white because the Greeks believed that white embodied purity, innocence and joyfulness. This also implied the bride virgin. In more recent societies, the white gown has come to symbolize the celebration of the wedding itself. Your wedding veil has always symbolized modesty, privacy, youth and maidenhood. That way of thinking still has a foothold. Bridal etiquette authorities today advise second time brides to skip the veil and wear a hat instead.
Most are familiar with the poem about bridal attire: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and lucky sixpence in your shoe.” What’s not generally known is that if a bride borrows and item from a happily married woman, the giver’s happiness is said to be passed on to the bride. And something blue symbolizes constancy in a relationship.
The bridal garter originated in at least two cultures, in ancient times, it represented the virginal girdle and the groom’s removal of the garter symbolized her relinquishment of that status. The garter can also be traced to the Old English custom of flinging the stocking. Wedding guests would sneak into the bridal chamber, pick up the newlywed’s discarded stockings and throw them at the couple. Whoever flung a stocking that hung on the bride or groom’s nose would be the next to marry.
Wedding bands, symbolizing eternal love by their lack of beginning or end, grew out of an ancient tribal custom of using circlets of grass to decorate a bride’s wrists and ankles. The Romans and Egyptians, with their love of precious metals and stones, initiated the practice of using sliver and gold. Rings are worn yet today on the third finger of the left hand because ancient cultures believed that finger had a vein running straight to the heart.
The wedding kiss is a symbol of the newlyweds’ faith and love, and signifies respect and obedience to mutual beliefs. It grew out of the feudal practice of kissing a lord’s ring.
Old shoes tied to the honeymoon car were once considered symbols of authority and possession. The bride’s father would contribute one of the bride’s old shoes to the groom, thus symbolizing the transfer of authority over her to her husband.
Throwing rice, or better yet birdseed, at fleeing newlyweds is a traditional way of wishing them many children.
And, traditionally speaking, we wish you happiness, health and prosperity in your new life together.