There are several formalities that we all naturally expect at every wedding. Many of us have never stopped to consider the origins of these traditions yet we feel that they make a wedding. In modern times some couples are choosing to forgo these centuries-old habits but for most they remain unquestionably part of the program. Whatever your stance it is both interesting and adds meaning to know the bizarre and fascinating history behind our common wedding day traditions.
- Throwing confetti
When you think about it, throwing anything over the bride and groom seems like a strange thing to do. Confetti started out as rice, wheat or barley and the idea was that the happy couple be showered with fertility, prosperity and good fortune. Thankfully, these days the most popular confetti option is fresh rose petals which look super pretty in your wedding photos. Bubbles, lavender or popcorn are also all great modern alternatives.
- Matching bridesmaids
We tend to think that the role of a bridesmaid is to assist the bride with planning her wedding and to be at her beck and call on the big day itself. However a little historical research shows that bridesmaids originally had their purpose rooted in more sinister beliefs. The bride was to be accompanied by several “lookalikes” in order to confuse and deter any evil spirits who were jealous of the bride’s good fortune and prevent them from causing her harm. Bridesmaids no longer mimic the bride but they do usually match each other wearing similar dresses in the same colours.
- Cutting of the cake
In years gone by the groom was expected to break a bread over the bride’s head for fertility. This tradition evolved into the wedding cake that we have today. The cutting of the cake is the first task that the bride and groom complete together as a married couple and their feeding of each other demonstrates that they will always provide for one another.
- First dance
It is tradition for the bride and groom to open the dance floor as the guests of honour. The first dance may have its origins in ancient times when the groom “stole” his bride and then danced her around to show her off to his friends. Symbolic of their union, it is thought that this dance shows that the couple are both physically and emotionally supportive of one another and demonstrates their ability to make a good team.
- Bouquet toss
Centuries ago the bride’s bouquet consisted of mainly herbs such as rosemary and dill as well as garlic. This aromatic bouquet was multi-functional. Some of the herbs represented strength, faithfulness or fertility while the garlic was thought to ward off bad spirits as well disease such as the plague. In addition, the sweet smelling herbs together with the fragrant floral blooms added in later years masked the body odour of brides who may have only been able to take a bath once a year!
As the bride left her wedding, guests would grab at her dress to tear away pieces of fabric as good luck tokens. In order to distract them she would throw her bouquet. The recipient hoped to have some of her good fortune. Today it is commonly-held superstition that the guest who catches the bouquet will be the next to marry.
Be it in the traditional manner or in your own unique way, learn more about hosting your wedding at Hudson’s. Download our information pack.