Superstions & Traditions

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue and a Silver Sixpence in her Shoe...

This rhyme originated in Victorian times. 'Something Old' may signify that the Couple's friends will stay with them, or the link with the bride’s family and the past. 'Something new' looks to the future for health, happiness and success in the bride’s life. The wedding dress is often chosen as the new item.  'Something Borrowed' is an opportunity for the Bride's family to give her something as a token of their love (it must be returned to ensure Good Luck), and 'Something Blue' is thought lucky because Blue represents faithfulness and loyalty. A sixpence was placed in the shoe to wish the bride wealth.

The Bridal Party

“Marriage by capture” was the most popular form of obtaining a wife in ancient times. The young man in want of a bride would bring some of his male friends with him to ensure a successful kidnapping. The young girl would surround herself with female friends to protect her from captors. Today these friends would be the bride’s maids. A special friend would stay with the maiden being pursued, to protect her night and day. This special privilege is now given to the maid of honour.

The young man in pursuit of a wife would choose a special friend to act as a go between and arranger between the bride’s family and himself. He would handle all the financial arrangements concerning the marriage. Today we know the chosen friend as the best man.

The Wedding Veil

The origin of the wedding veil is unclear; one explanation is that the bride’s face is covered to signify that she is spoken for. Another explanation is that during the times of arranged marriages, the bride's face was covered until the groom was committed to her at the ceremony - so it would be too late for him to run off if he didn't like the look of her! It is also thought that the veil was worn to protect the bride from evil spirits that would be floating around on her wedding day.

These origins have all evolved into the tradition that the bride’s veil covers the face throughout the ceremony until the minister pronounces the couple man and wife - although today, the veil is often lifted by the bride's father when the bride arrives at the altar.

Why The Bride Stands On The Left During The Service

This goes back again to “marriage by capture” the groom would stand on the right of the bride during the ceremony. If the groom had to fight off other men who also wanted her as their bride, he would hold his bride to be with his left hand allowing his right hand to be free for his sword.

The Wedding Ring

The Ring originally indicated a rope tied to the women to subdue her. The left hand was selected because it is supposed to be weaker than the right, a further sign of submission.

A more romantic 19th century reason for wearing the wedding ring on the left hand was believed to be a priest arrived at the fourth finger (counting the thumb) after touching the three fingers to the left hand “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”. Another belief is that the ring finger supposedly has a vein that runs directly to the heart. The circular shape signified eternal and unending love.

The Wedding Cake

The origins of the wedding cake are rich in symbolic history. One version is where guests would have thrown wheat at the bride who would carry stalks of wheat in her bouquet. The wheat was then picked up and eaten. Later bakers decided to use the wheat to make cakes and biscuits. Another version goes back to Ancient Greece where cake was thrown at the married couple rather as way we throw confetti today. In both instances the wheat is supposed to symbolise fertility. Today's three tier Wedding Cake is said to be based on the unusual shape of the spire of Saint Bride's Church in London. Traditionally the newly-weds should make the first cut to signify sharing their life.

First On The Dance Floor

During the evening celebrations, the bride and groom traditionally dance on their own first to a waltz. However, as ballroom dancing is not so popular these days, the newlyweds usually dance to a favourite romantic song. During the playing of this song, it is traditional for the groom to dance with his new mother-in-law and then with his mother, while the bride dances with her new father-in-law and then with her father. The best man also joins in dancing with the chief bridesmaid and the ushers with the other bridesmaids when the bride and groom first change. It is more common now for bride and groom to dance on their own to the first dance and their guests to be invited to join them on the dance floor after the first dance for another romantic song.

Tossing The Bouquet

The origin of tossing the bouquet comes from where the maiden would walk from her shack/hut to the shrine. In her hands she would carry a bouquet consisting of parsley, dill weed, oregano and garlic.

The bouquet was deemed to ward off evil spirits while on her way to wed, as the bouquet captured all the evil spirits once the maiden was married it was no longer needed and she tossed it away. Christianity changed it to good spirits and therefore any maids not married wanted to have that good luck so there became the scramble to obtain the good spirits. Later this changed to the maid that caught the bouquet would be the next to marry.

Tossing The Garter

The origin of tossing the garter came from an old French tradition where the male attendants helped the bride and groom to undress for bed and the young men would fight over the bridal garters as a wedding memento. The bride’s garter was then worn by the groomsmen in their hat bands as you would a feather as a sign of winning the garters. Stocking throwing was another custom, after the bride and groom were undressed they would sit up in bed and the groomsmen and bridesmaids would toss the stockings that had just been removed at the bride and groom. The person that landed the stocking on either the bride or groom would be the next to marry.

Tying Shoes & Cans To The Bumper

The tradition of tying shoes to the bumper of the newlyweds car has various possible origins ranging from the times of marriage by capture, with the bride's father throwing his shoe in anger at the escaping groom and his stolen bride to the notion that leather had the quality to protect against evil spirits, while noise and the tying of shoes to the back of the newlyweds transport would deter them from interference. Another belief is that shoes symbolise fertility (hence Mother Goose's little old woman lived in a shoe).

The Honeymoon

The word honeymoon come from the ancient German tradition, which held that the newly married couple should drink a special beer made from honey for the first month they were married. “Honey” from the special beers and “moon” because it was for the first month.

Another interpretation comes from Ireland; couples would marry under a full moon and then drink a honeyed wine (mead) for a month. Mead was thought to endow those that drank it with fertility and virility.


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