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  • Writer's pictureJamie York

Where Do Popular Wedding Traditions Come From?

A bride pushing a groom on a large garden swing.
Photo by Ashley Hall

Advice from Prosperity Mansion & Farm an outdoor, Maryland wedding venue located in Frederick County Maryland and near Westminster.

All weddings are unique in their own way, but each wedding includes some (or all) of the most popular wedding traditions. But have you ever wondered where these wedding traditions started? Here are the origins of some of our favorite wedding traditions, according to Southern Living and Roberts Centre.

The White Wedding Dress

Originally, brides wore red dresses at their wedding because white fabric was expensive to maintain and keep clean. White dresses became the staple of bridal fashion after Queen Victoria of England wore a white gown at her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. Today, while some brides do wear white, wedding dresses come in many colors.

The Veil

There are two common beliefs about the origins for the veil a bride wears during the ceremony. The first comes from the traditions arranged marriages had if the groom did not know the bride in advance. Her face was covered until the ceremony was over to prevent the groom from changing his mind about the marriage after seeing her face. The second belief comes from Ancient Rome, where the veil hid the bride's face from evil spirits that come to ruin the wedding and marriage.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

This common rhyme comes from the Victorian-Era belief that if the bride had all of these items during the wedding, good fortune would come to her and the marriage. Something Old was supposed to be from her family and connect her to her past, and Something New was to celebrate her new family and journey in life. Something Borrowed came from a happily married couple to pass along their good fortune to the newly married couple, and Something Blue, coming from the phrase “true blue,” represented faithfulness and loyalty in the marriage. The original rhyme actually had an additional phrase: “and a sixpence in my shoe.” A sixpence coin tucked in the bride's shoe was another symbol of good luck and fortune. Sorry, sixpence coins aren't minted anymore, but you can easily find them online! Places like Etsy have replicas for $7.00.

Bridal Bouquet

While the flowers in your bouquet are a great way to add a pop of color to your wedding day look, bouquets weren't originally made from flowers. Brides from Ancient Greece carried bundles of garlic, herbs and spices as a way to ward off evil spirits. Since bathing was thought to cause pneumonia in cooler weather, ladies carried bouquets to disguise the smell from the men.

The Bridesmaids

Today, the bride's “squad” of bridesmaids are there to support her as she marries her best friend, but they originally had a much different job. The bridesmaids wore similar, if not identical, dresses as the bride to confuse jilted ex-lovers and evil spirits, preventing them from harming the bride. In Ancient Rome, bridesmaids were also expected to step in if anyone tried to kidnap the bride or steal her dowry, the payment or livestock given to the groom by the bride's family to thank him for marrying her.

The Best Man

The Best Man also had multiple roles throughout history. He's called the Best Man because he was supposed to be the best fighter of the groomsmen; if an attacker or an enemy came to kidnap the bride during the ceremony, the Best Man fought for her safety on the groom's behalf. No bride wants to get cold feet on the day of the wedding, but the Best Man was also there to catch the bride if she did run off and make sure the ceremony was completed. In addition, if the bride's family didn't approve of the union, he was also there to make sure the bride and groom could safely leave and begin their lives together.

The Ring Bearer and the Ring Pillow

We've all seen adorable pictures and videos of young boys acting as ring bearers and holding the rings on a small pillow as he walks down the aisle, but the Ring Bearer is a part of the wedding party with a deeper meaning. Selecting a young child to carry your rings represented innocence and the future, and he holds the rings on a pillow to represent your dreams coming true.

The Father of the Bride Giving Her Away

Fathers look forward to the time where they can give their daughter away at her wedding, but it’s a symbolic gesture in modern times. Long ago, however, women were not considered their own independent person, so the father of the bride was literally giving her away from his family to the groom.

Wedding Bells

When we hold ceremonies at our Maryland wedding venue, we ring a large bell positioned on top of our Egyptian Doors as the bride walks down the aisle. This tradition comes from an old Irish belief that ringing bells at your wedding would ensure your new family would have a happy life. It was also the Irish way to ward off evil spirits.

The Wedding Cake

Before there were wedding cakes, there was bread at a wedding. Wheat was a symbol of fertility and prosperity at the time, and a loaf of bread was broken over the bride's head as a fertility ritual. As the tradition shifted from bread to cake, guests at the wedding would take pieces from the cake and place them under their pillows in hopes of good luck. The bride and groom cutting the cake together is their first joint task in their marriage, and they feed the cake to each other to symbolize their commitment to each other.

The Top Tier of the Cake

Some couples save the top tier of their wedding cake and keep it in their freezer to eat on their first anniversary. This tradition actually stems from the tradition of saving the top tier of the cake to use as a celebratory dessert for the birth of the couple's first child.

The history of these traditions is long and storied, and it surprisingly features a lot of ways to ward off evil spirits. We hope you enjoy learning about wedding traditions as much as we do!

Prosperity Mansion & Farm proudly serves:

Frederick Maryland

Carroll County Maryland

Westminster Maryland

Baltimore Maryland

Montgomery County Maryland

Anne Arundel County Maryland

Glen Burnie Maryland

Severna Park Maryland

Gettysburg Pennsylvania

Hanover Pennsylvania

Littlestown Pennsylvania

Loudoun County Virginia and more

Contact us at: 443-350-8100


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