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Friday, August 17, 2012

{Aisle Say by Candice}: The origin of wedding traditions

When the wedding day arrives, many Bridal couples become unknowingly superstitious. There’s a certain comfort and reassurance we get from these rituals. No bride or groom will dare take the chance of seeing their fiancé before walking down the aisle. And let’s not forget the Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed & Something Blue for extra good luck!

Many couples incorporate “traditions” into their ceremony and reception. It's interesting to look into the history and significance of these quaint acts that have always been seen to bestow protection, good luck and fertility on the happy couple.

Here are a few of the most popular:


In Shakespearean times, women carried aromatic bunches of herbs and flowers to mask the pungent smell of body odour in the stuffy churches as bathing only occurred sporadically. Other bouquets consisted of garlic, herbs and grains that were to drive evil spirits away. Over time, the prettier scent and look of flowers became more popular, thank goodness for us today! Specific flowers have special meanings in many cultures, often symbolizing happiness and everlasting love. In Hawaii & India both the bride and groom are adorned with blossoms. There are many books containing glossaries with the significance of every flower so be sure to consult one when planning your bouquet.


It may seem like quite a waste but it was an ancient fertility rite where handfuls of grain or nuts were traditionally thrown onto the wedding couple because they are 'life-giving' seeds. In some European countries, eggs were thrown instead. You can be glad that you don’t have to have eggs splattered on your R20 000 wedding dress- Eeek! Some modern day equivalents of this tradition is throwing rose petals or blowing bubbles from soapy scented bottles as the couple leaves the chapel.

Until the 1900’s, Brides hardly ever bought a special wedding dress and would wear their best outfit instead. These poor ladies never got to feel like a ‘princess’ for a day. White Dresses were made popular by Queen Victoria, who broke the tradition of royals marrying in Silver. Symbolising purity and virginity, white was also thought to ward off evil spirits. Another tradition is that the bride should never try on the entire bridal outfit before the day as this could be seen to ‘jinx’ the wedding celebration.

For many decades, bridesmaids wore similar dresses to the Bride. This tradition began as a form of protection against evil rather than for purposes of uniformity. The Bride would blend in and this would trick evil spirits or jealous suitors who may have wanted to harm the Bride.

The tradition of a "best man" probably began when it was customary and preferable for eligible bachelors to seek out and capture their Bride-to-be. The Groom-to-be would choose a strong, reliable man who would assist and help fight off any opposition. The best man was also responsible for safe guarding the wedding rings. Nowadays, ring bearers range from teeny toddlers to the family pet.


In ancient times, the breaking of bread was done as part of a fertility ceremony. Some cultures during fugal times, every member of the community or village would get a piece of the wedding cake to ensure good luck, even if it was only a crumb. Single ladies would sleep with a piece under their pillow which was seen to bring them dreams of their future husbands.

One of the oldest wedding rituals comes from the ancient custom of witnesses to the marriage bed who were assigned this duty to ensure that the couple consummated their marriage. The marriage was only valid and legally binding until after it had been consummated. The witnesses would bring forth the garter as a sign of the witnessing. You can imagine what a violation of privacy this was and eventually a very wise and determined bride insisted that the groom throw it into the crowd to prove consummation.

Over The Threshold
Generations ago it was considered lady-like for the new bride to appear hesitant at "giving herself" to her new husband, whether she was or not. At the threshold to the bridal chamber, the husband would often have to carry the bride over to encourage her to go in. During the days of "Marriage by Capture," brides were certainly not going to stroll peacefully into the groom's abode and would normally be putting up a fight to protect her virtue, so often she had to be dragged or carried across the threshold.

Tip for the Bride-to-be: Incorporating some of these rituals on your wedding day will offer you a way of honouring all brides before you and add some extra fun.

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Contact Candice* at Live Love Dream and invest in a Pre-Marriage Course to ensure your Happily Ever After...

*With a Degree in Psychological Counselling, Candice Luck of Live Love Dream specialises in presenting fun, modern Pre-Marriage courses, that assists couples in building a marriage based on communication, transparency and connection.

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