Wedding Traditions

Ever wondered why the bride throws her bouquet, why her dress is white and why the groom has a best man? Read on and you’ll discover where our wedding traditions come from. Let’s start with the Bride and her wedding dress. The white wedding dress was first worn by Queen Victoria; she was revolutionary in our modern day weddings with many traditions being stemmed from her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840. Instead of wearing the elaborate robes as many noble women did in the day, she opted for a neutral white dress which was much understated in comparison. Now we see many variations of the white dress with cream, ivory and champagne being very in vogue. In some customs when marriages were arranged by parents and the couple had no idea who they were marrying, a veil would be worn to conceal the brides face so that the groom couldn’t run off if he wasn’t overly impressed with his new wife, or indeed to conceal her beauty. In this day and age it’s just a very lovely accessory Next it’s onto the Bridesmaids. Long before Queen Victoria the Bride had attendants, now better known as bridesmaids, the attendants all dressed the same as the bride, this was believed to confuse any evil spirits as they couldn’t tell the difference from one girl to the next, now I’m not entirely sure what the evil spirits intended to do and indeed why they would do it on a wedding day however, as time went on the attendants acted as helpers and support for the bride. They prepared the flowers and made party favours but the tradition of warding off evil spirits still continued by them holding posies of herbs and garlic, and scattering grains. Luckily, nowadays your bridesmaids are there to give you a “right royal send-off” by arranging the hen doo, coming along to the pre wedding hair and beauty trials and dancing the night away at the reception. They also get to hold posies of flowers, a pretty bag, or don a wrist corsage; much more civilized. Way back when, It was considered Good luck to grab, and therefore tear, a piece of the Brides dress or veil to gain some of her luck in love; not such great luck for the Bride I hasten to add. Can you imagine that happening now! As time went on and it was considered a little inappropriate to savagely rip apart the bride’s attire, the throwing of the bouquet started to gain a more reputable tradition, still somewhat savage as that too was torn apart by the female guests. Nowadays the bouquet, or sometimes a smaller version, is thrown and the guest, lets’ face it generally a female guest, who catches it is said to be the next in line for marriage. I have seen a few rugby tackles in my time but we are generally a little more behaved. In days of old when knights were bold……… The best man was traditionally chosen to help kidnap the bride, yes you heard me right! The groom would go in search of his bride and take his BFF with him to help. He was generally someone who was good with a sword so that he could see off the bride’s family and any other men who wanted her for their own. He would stand guard whilst the marriage was taking place with his sword in hand!!!!! Luckily we don’t kidnap brides anymore and the best man is now given the responsibility of looking after the groom and making sure he gets to the ceremony on time. Although, some best men do require a little looking after themselves! The cake! This has to be one of the best bits, what flavour, design, how many tiers…… but where did this tradition come from? In Medieval times the happy couple used to kiss over a stack of bread rolls, if they remained stacked then the couple would be blessed with prosperity and children. In the seventeenth century a French baker used sugar frosting to help keep the rolls from falling; this was possibly the beginning of our wedding cakes today. It was also tradition for the groom to break the bread over his new wife’s head, luckily now they cut the cake together.
Becky I'Anson Deputy Superintendent Registrar

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