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Something Old, Something New: Exploring the (Slightly Odd) Origins of Wedding Traditions

Who doesn't love a wedding eh?! A time for love, laughter and rather ancient traditions!

Bride and groom's first dance

Now, first things first I need to say this is not a blog post for or against these traditions. I personally am not a huge fan of most wedding traditions but I am in favour of is knowing where a tradition comes from if you want to use it at your wedding, so here are 6 of the most popular you might want to learn about before saying I Do! I will warn you... history is weird and some of these tradition's origins are strange to say the least!

  1. Where to stand at the alter - The tradition is for the Groom to stand on the right and the Bride to stand on the left and the origins of this stems from times when a man would kidnap his bride (yup you read that right) and he would have to potentially defend them from family that wanted her back or other suitors. He would be able to draw his sword with his right hand and protect his bride with his left which, I suppose, is one way to make it a day to remember!

  2. Carrying a bouquet down the aisle - apparently this comes from the days before deodorant existed and was to hide the Bride's smell! HA! They used to put fragrant flowers and herbs in the bouquet to mask their body odour and ward off evil spirits, a common theme you'll see with these traditions!

  3. Cake Cutting - OK! This one's gunna be controversial because it's obviously the best and tastiest tradition, who doesn't love cake?! But I'm just here to tell you the facts and the facts are... well... a mixed bag! The tradition supposedly started as a way for the bride to symbolise the loss of her virginity, then it evolved into it being about the Bride demonstrating what a good housewife she would make *insert eye roll here* but is now seen as a symbol of sweetness and shared life. Sweet I suppose, just don't go shoving it in your partner's face. It's only your weird Uncle Bruce finding that funny!

  4. The infamous rhyme - “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a silver sixpence in her shoe." Originating from the UK in the 19th century each item was meant to bring luck in its own way. "Something old" represents a tie to the past whilst "something new" stands for hope and optimism for the future. Borrowing something from a happily married friend is supposed to bring good luck, while the blue item wards off evil spirits so my advice would be to make sure your blue object is something hefty!

  5. First Dance - Back in the day when people used to 'court' each other and formal dances were a thing it was common practice for the person of highest society in the room to take the first dance of the night to kick off the proceedings, at weddings those of highest society are the newlyweds so it's only right!

  6. Carrying the bride over the threshold - In some parts of the world this tradition goes back to the belief that the bride would be swept away by those pesky evil spirits if her feet touched the ground. In other parts of the world it was believed that if the bride tripped over on her way into the marital home it was a bad omen for the marriage. I don't mind this one as a bit of fun but I'd opt for a modern day swap for a piggyback ride!

So there you have it! Evil spirits didn't RSVP to weddings but were definitely (supposedly) present and misogyny had a front row seat but these traditions do add an element of charm to a wedding day so if you don't mind what these traditions have evolved to symbolise, or they mean something entirely different to you, then go for it! After all, cake is darn tasty and flowers do smell great!

Bride and Groom's first dance with confetti flying


Credit for all images goes to Ampersand Memories - Thanks Lisa!

  1. Standing at the alter Source 

  2. Bouquets Source 

  3. Cake Cutting Source

  4. Rhyme Source

  5. First Dance Source

  6. Carrying a bride over the threshhold Source

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