When it comes to THE ring, something that is big and sparkles is always welcomed, but did you know that in Egyptian times a gold ring was thought to hold mystical powers? When adorned with a diamond, the hardest substance on earth, it symbolized a love that would last forever. Also, why do you think that it is traditionally worn on the third finger of the left hand? There are two answers to that question. The first belief refers to an Egyptian belief that the ring finger follows the vena amoris, the vein that runs directly to the heart. The second dates back to the 17th century, when at a Christian wedding the priest arrived at the forth finger (counting the thumb) after touching the three fingers on the left hand “...in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”
The viel holds some significance as well. By wearing a veil, the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that a bride would ward off evil spirits and magically protect her from harms way as other suitors might try and “steal” the bride. Of course, today, we know that a veil doesn't get in the way of other suitors (a groomsmen is one of the guilty ones) stealing the bride.
The tradition of having bridesmaids and groomsmen originated from the Roman law that demanded that ten witnesses be present at a wedding. By having ten witnesses they were believed to be able to dupe evil spirits who were believed to attend marriages with the view to causing mischief and disharmony. Unlike today, originally, the bridesmaids and groomsmen all dressed in identical clothing to the bride and groom. This was so the evil spirits wouldn't know who was getting married.
Many couples pay quite a lot of money for that perfect wedding cake. However, if you are a strong follower of the Greek and Roman traditions, you may want to think twice about having an expensive cake (and an expensive wedding dress too). The ancient Greeks threw cakes at the newly married couple, just as we through confetti, rice, etc. today. In Roman times, brides and grooms would first share the cake with each other which was thought to promise the couple a life of plenty, in both children and happiness. Then the remainder of the cake was then broken over the bride's head. I'm sure the kids would enjoy that, but the couple not so much.
Having the perfect flowers is of major importance. It was believed that strong smelling spices and herbs would ward off and drive away evil spirits, bad luck and poor health. Garlic and chives were also popular for the same reason and were added to the bouquet.
During the marriage ceremony, depending upon one’s religion, the bride stands on the left and the groom on the right as they face the alter. The origin of this goes back to the days when a groom would “capture his bride” by kidnapping her. In the event that the groom had to fight off other men who also wanted her as their bride, his right hand would be free to use his sword to hold potential thieves!
The full wording of the popular bridal attire rhyme goes something like this: 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe'. Do you know what each means? Something old refers to wearing something that represents a link with the bride's family and her old life. Something new represents good fortune and success in her new life. Something borrowed is meant to bring good luck to the marriage from a happy bride. Something blue dates back to biblical times when the color blue was considered to represent purity and fidelity.
Last but certainly not least, we can't forget about one of the most important part of a wedding: the honeymoon. There are two origins for this common practice:
- The first is thought to have begun 4,000 years ago in Northern Europe and Babylon. Newly married couples would drink metheglen, a fermented honey drink, for one lunar month (about 28 days). From there the custom grew from the terms “honey moon” or “honey month.”
- The second possible origin came from ancient times when the groom kidnapped his bride and kept her from her family for approximately one lunar month. This was considered the cooling off period for the bride’s family. It was the hope that the bride’s family would have forgiven him upon his return.
Some of these traditions are certainly being upheld until this day whether you know their origins or not. However, sometimes it's okay to do away with old ones and come up with a few of your own.
Source: Sacred Unions