Where did some of those silly wedding traditions come from?
Here’s a partial list.
Carrying the Bride over the Threshold: In the early days, when a Groom used to kidnap a woman from a village to make her his Bride, he would carry her away kicking and screaming while the villagers chased him. To fight off these opposing villagers, the Groom would hold his sword in his right hand while holding the captured Bride in his left hand. This also explains the origin of why the Bride stands on the left side of the Groom at a wedding. The Groom eventually took some friends (Groomsmen) to help defend him while stealing the chosen beauty.
The Honeymoon: After capturing the woman of his choice, the Groom would hide her until the moon completed a 30-day cycle. During this time, they “got to know each other” while drinking mead. Mead was a honey-sweetened alcoholic beverage that affects the acidity of the womb, thereby increasing fertility.
The Wedding Veil: Eventually, marriages were arranged by family members. The Bride & Groom were not allowed to see one another before the wedding because the family would be exchanging a dowry for the bride and they were afraid that if the Groom didn’t like the appearance of the Brides face, he might refuse to marry her. This is also why the Father of the Bride would “give the Bride away” to the Groom at the ceremony. Only after lifting the wedding veil at the ceremony would the Groom have seen the Brides face for the first time.
The Money Dance: When arranged marriages were common, the Groom would usually collect a dowry for the Bride. But he wouldn’t be able to collect it until after the marriage was consummated. The money dance was a way for the couple to receive some money before they left their wedding reception.
The Bridal Shower: During the times of arranged weddings, a poor man fell in love with a girl and married her. The Bride’s father refused to pay a dowry. So their friends showered her with gifts to help them start a household together.
Bridesmaids: Bridesmaids were gathered together to wear similar dresses as the bride to confuse evil spirits.
Ring Finger: Many years ago, the ring finger was the index finger. Later it was believed that the third finger contained the “vein of love” which led directly to the heart.
Wedding: The word “wedding” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word wedd that meant not only would a man marry a woman, but also that the Groom would pay the Bride’s father.
The Wedding Toast: The wedding toast comes from France where bread was placed in the bottom of two drinking glasses for the Bride and Groom. They would then drink as fast as they could to be the first one to get to the toast. The winner was to rule the household.
The Wedding Cake: In the Roman days, wedding cakes were baked of wheat and barley. At the reception, they were traditionally broken over the head of the new Bride and Groom as a symbol of her fertility. Guests would then scramble for the pieces of the cake, and take them home for good luck. It later became tradition to place many small cakes on top of each other as high as possible. The Bride and Groom would then try to kiss each other over the top of the cakes without knocking them down.
Floral Bouquets at a Wedding: Wedding bouquets were originally made of strong herbs like thyme and garlic to ward off evil spirits.
Bouquet Toss: It was believed that a Bride was especially lucky on her wedding day. Guests would sometimes tear at her dress for a souvenir piece of good luck to take home. Brides wanted to offer such good luck souvenirs to the guests, but without them bothering her at the wedding. So Brides started tossing a… garter! That’s right, before the bouquet, Brides actually used to toss a garter at a wedding reception. This was eventually changed to a bouquet after Brides got tired of fighting off drunken men who were trying to remove the garter themselves!
Garter Toss: The “garter toss” evolved from an early tradition when wedding guests would follow the Bride & Groom to their bedroom on the wedding night, wait until they undressed, then steal their stockings and fling them at the couple. The first person to hit the Bride or Groom in the head would be the next person to marry.
Tossing of the Rice: People used to believe that newlyweds would bring good luck. Guests would shower them with nuts and grains to ensure a bountiful harvest and many children to help work in the fields. In years of poor harvest, rice was tossed instead.
Tying Old Shoes on the Car: In ancient times, the Bride’s father would give his shoes to the Groom to show the transfer of authority over the Bride. Later it became popular for wedding guests to throw their own shoes at the newlyweds to signify the same.
Tying the Knot: This comes from the days when the Bride wore a girdle that was tied in knots. The Groom had to untie all of the knots prior to consummating their marriage.