10 Wedding Traditions Explained

Have you ever wondered why every wedding you’ve attended has similar traditions or where they come from? Why do bridesmaids all wear the same dress? Why is there a garter toss? Why must the bride and groom feed each other cake? This is just what we expect at weddings, but have you ever thought of the origins of these customs? Here are 10 traditional wedding customs explained by me:

  1. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: It is customary for a bride to have a trinket of each of these descriptions on her person while getting married. They each symbolize something the bride and groom hope for for their marriage together. The something old represents the past, while the something new represents their future as a couple. A bride is supposed to borrow a special token from someone who is happily married in hopes that their good luck will rub off onto them. A blue something represents fidelity and love.
  2. Rain on your wedding day: Rain on your wedding day can represent fertility and cleansing
  3. Wearing a Veil: In ancient Rome, a bride would wear a veil over her face in order to confuse spirits who were jealous of her glee
  4. Not seeing each other before the ceremony: This custom is changing. Some couples choose to have a “first look” photography session before the wedding, but some people stay tried and true to this custom dating back from the time of arranged marriages. It was believed that the couple should not see each other before marrying so they couldn’t change their mind. Sounds an awful lot like the show, Married at First Sight.
  5. The “Ring Finger”: Wedding and engagement rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was once believed that that finger had a vein run directly to the heart.
  6. Bouquet and Garter Toss: This tradition comes from across the pond in England. Wedding guests used to try to rip pieces of the dress and bouquet from the bride in order to gain some of her good luck. Brides started tossing their bouquets in order to get away from the crowd. Now this has become a tradition at most weddings in which a single woman catches the bouquet and then is believed to be the next to marry.
  7. Bridesmaids: Bridesmaids at one point were to dress exactly as the bride on the wedding day to confuse evil spirits.
  8. Giving away the bride: This tradition also comes from the days of arranged marriages. It was believed that a daughter was property of her father until she was literally given away to the man she was to marry.
  9. Feeding of the cake: In Christian weddings, feeding each other wedding cake represents giving everything they have and caring for one another.
  10. Throwing rice: This common practice represents the guests showering the newlyweds with abundance and fertility.

If you think some of these are weird traditions we’ve carried on for years, wait until you see what some traditions from other cultures are:

A June Bride

I have gotten a little behind on my event updates due to my other job, but on Saturday I worked another wedding.  Every wedding I work is just a little different than the last.  Some couples choose to get married on-site, others prefer a church.  Some couples decided to do a first-look, others decide their first moment seeing each other should be walking down the aisle.  Some have large bridal parties, some small.  Every aspect of the wedding has to be perfectly catered to the couple and then translated to the timeline of the event. Saturday was the wedding of Dr. and Mrs. Bonner.  I arrived at 2:30 and was promptly put to work on the tables.  I had to put all the table numbers on the tables while following the floor layout.  The difficult part of that task was the fact that the ball room was not set up yet.  When a couple chooses to get married on site, approximately 1/3 of the ballroom is used for a ceremony space, then that space is flipped during cocktail hour.  For the wedding on Saturday, they had over 300 guests so it was necessary to use 1/2 of the ballroom for the ceremony.  Therefore, while setting up table numbers, I had 33 tables in half of the actual ballroom.  I had to imagine which tables would move once the partition opened and which would stay, and try to get the numbers as close to the floor layout as possible so they didn’t have to move a ton of tables during the flip.  After I was finished putting all the numbers and menu cards on the tables, the florist guys from Beautiful Blooms were able to put the centerpieces on the tables.

Set-up of part of the ballroom

Set-up of part of the ballroom

2/3 of the ballroom used for the ceremony

1/2 of the ballroom used for the ceremony

After I finished the table numbers, it was time to set up the couple’s accessories brought.  This couple provided a birdcage for their cards.  The birdcages have been a big trend seen lately at weddings.  This couple didn’t have a ton of accessories, but they did have some photos of family members at their weddings. photo 1 (3) Once it was time for the ceremony to start, I was positioned at the top of the elevator to check in any guests that used the elevators and turn away any unwanted crashers.  Most of the guests use the escalators located at the front of our venue, so a lot of the elevator person’s position is telling girl scout troops and tourists that One Atlantic is a private venue that isn’t open to the public and they have to ride the elevator back down. When a couple gets married on-site, its important to hold any late guests at the door of the venue until after the bride walks down the aisle.  A lot of guests get really angry with us because they want to see the start of the ceremony and the bride, but the reason we do this is to not ruin the bride’s special moment.  After the bride enters and the guests’ eyes follow her down the aisle and continue facing forward, we slip the late guests in in the back.  While the ceremony is happening, I put out the posters that were used in replacement to placecards. photo 2 (2) photo 3 (1) All the planners were so shocked with the number of presents the couple received.  They informed me that it is against wedding etiquette to bring a gift to the wedding.  If a guest wants to give a gift, they are supposed to send it to the couple’s home so that the couple doesn’t have to deal with it at the end of the wedding.  This was something I never realized before but it makes a lot of sense.  These are the types of things that wedding planners think of that others do not. After the ceremony, there was the usual 1 hour cocktail hour.  Then it was time for the reception to start.  By this time, the planner is less involved other than timings of the blessing, toasts, and special dances.  When the reception begins, that’s when the banquet manager goes into high speed. For the rest of the night, the greeters and interns rotated from sitting near the elevator or in the study by the cigar bar.  At the cigar bar we had to make sure the lighters and cutters didn’t leave the table and remind people that they could only smoke outside. photo 2 (4) At the end of the event we have to make sure that all guests leave with their shoes on and without any alcoholic beverage or glass.  Some guests completely understand this policy and then there are others who will argue with you over their free beer for 5 minutes.  This is always a really interesting part of the night.  Overall, this wedding ran very smoothly and it was enjoyable.  As guests left we received tons of compliments from guests stating everyone did a great job and they had a really good time at the wedding.

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This was the first wedding of June, which is the most popular wedding month of the entire year!

Photography by: Marie Labbancz Photography