What do we know about the classic wedding traditions? When and how were they invented or established? How did they influence the wedding and even the lifestyle of people back then and today? There are dozens of questions regarding the origin of modern wedding traditions. But after you find out the real meaning of them, you might feel lucky to live in the 21st century, when all these crazy and scary rituals are history already.
The origin of bridesmaids
It turns out bridesmaids were originally told to dress similarly to the bride in order to confuse exes or evil spirits. Wow, really taking a bullet for your best friend!
In the Roman Empire, bridesmaids would accompany a bride if she had to travel to another town or village, where the groom lived. And this larger party was thought to keep the bride safe from attacks by robbers or kidnappers.
The origin of groomsmen
If bridesmaids are just basically decoys for evil spirits or kidnappers, then what are groomsmen?
The best man actually is the biggest and strongest friend. In some cultures, men would kidnap or steal their bride. You were the best man if you were the strongest and you were the most skilled in fighting. You were supposed to help the groom combat anyone who opposed the bride being kidnapped.
The best man actually stands next to the groom during the ceremony to make sure that the bride doesn't run away. Because if the bride tries to run away, the best man is supposed to grab her.
The origin of white wedding dresses
The wedding dress was actually meant just to be ostentatious and to show off wealth. In the 18th and 19th century, washing was done painstakingly by hand, so to have an immaculate white dress – that was only for the very wealthy people.
Red actually was the common color of wedding dresses before Queen Victoria. So, Queen Victoria got married in 1840 and before her, people did not wear white to their weddings. She wanted to wear white. Nobody thought it was a good idea. She did it anyway. Everyone was like, oh my god, that's so cool, it makes you look so wealthy.
The origin of a wedding bouquet
Why do you think brides always carry a bouquet of flowers down the aisle?
Ancient Greek brides would wear wreaths of mint and marigold that were meant to serve as an aphrodisiac. Brides would also use clusters of herbs to ward off evil. So there you go again with the evil – people back in the day we're very afraid of evil spirits and they did not want them at their weddings.
The origin of a bridal veil
It actually comes from the tradition of arranged marriages. In some cultures, the veil was meant to hide the identity of the bride from the groom.
In Greece, the veil was typically yellow and in Rome, it was usually red. They were both meant to represent fire and also fend off those evil spirits.
The origin of a honeymoon
The honeymoon also has very creepy origins. Some say it dates back to when marriages were created by kidnapping. The husband used to have to hide for about a month after the kidnapping to prevent the woman's tribe from rescuing her. Her family – after a month – they basically just gave up looking.
The origin of wedding rings
Historically, the bride's ring was meant to signify ownership. So, the development of the bride and groom exchanging rings was a result of the advancement of women's rights – not only do they own us, but we own them.
The significance of the fourth finger is because it was believed to have a particular vein that led to the heart. So, in Latin, it was called the “vena amoris”, which means “vein of love”. But actually, that is incorrect – there isn’t a vein in that finger that leads to your heart. But it's all about the symbolism.
The origin of giving away the bride by her father
The father giving away the bride symbolized the transfer of ownership of the bride's property from her father to her new husband.
The origin of the first kiss
It was once custom for a priest to give a holy kiss of peace to the groom and then the groom would pass the kiss onto the bride. And then the clergyman would kiss all the bridesmaids and the groomsmen. Everyone just was kissing, were all passing kisses around.
So, this is pretty the list of wedding traditions and their weird origins. These are the most popular – you may say the obligatory wedding customs, and almost all of them have a not so pleasant background. But still, it’s your right to use them during your own wedding ceremony or not and to have your own opinion toward their meaning.