Wedding Traditions De-mystified

As you plan your wedding, there are many traditions that you automatically incorporate into your day-some intentionally, and some you may not even be aware of. Have you ever wondered where or what some of these traditions were derived from? Here are a few of the most commonly known (and a few not so commonly known!):

Position of the Bride and Groom during the ceremony:

In a normal Christian ceremony, the bride stands to the left of the groom. This tradition was actually derived from medieval times- the groom needed to keep his right side free- which was the arm he carried his sword in- to ward off any other men wanting the bride as theirs.

The Wedding Ring/Ring Finger:

The wedding & engagement ring is traditionally worn on the third (fourth, if you count your thumb) finger of the left hand because of a belief of ancient Greeks that the vein running in that particular finger went straight to the heart.

The actual custom of the diamond engagement ring is said to have gained popularity after 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria slipped the precious stone on his soon-to-be-wife, Mary of Burgundy.

The history & origin of toasting:

The phrase "toast" comes from the act of floating a piece of burnt toast in the wine (back then,it was wine of the loving cup). The toast was said to reduce the acidity of the wine. The bowl was passed to all of the guests, and each member sipped from this cup. The host would always be the last one to drink.

Bridesmaids & Groomsmen:

In ancient times, friends of the bride would dress just like her- meant as a way to confuse any evil spirits lurking and/or trying to steal the bride away from her soon-to-be husband. The same was true for Groomsmen- to confuse the spirits. Another take on the custom of having groomsmen was from the days of grooms "kidnapping" their brides- the groomsmen were warrior friends ready to fight off any one trying to keep the groom from snatching the bride.

The Honeymoon:

Also said to have been derived from the times of "kidnapping" their brides, a groom kept his new wife hidden for a whole month, or a "moon". During this time, it is also believed that the couple drank a honey-sweetened alcoholic drink, in order to ease the sexual inhibitions.

The Veil:

The tradition of the bride wearing a veil on her wedding day has a few beliefs behind it- including the belief that the veil was also meant to confuse and ward off evil spirits. Other explanations include symbolism of purity and modesty, as well as the belief that in times of arranged marriages and betrothed couples, the veil guarded the groom from seeing the face of his arranged companion. Stemming from this particular belief, the lifting of the veil is said to symbolize when a groom would "see" his betrothed for the first time, and give his final decision of whether or not he would go through with the marriage at that time.

The White Wedding Dress:

The tradition of a white wedding dress was popularized by Queen Victoria. Up until then, brides simply wore their Sunday Best. White was always reserved for the royals.

Look for upcoming posts with more wedding traditions explained!

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