Weddings are special events that celebrate two individuals’ love for one another. Weddings bring together friends and family to witness couples share vows and devote their lives to each other.
Wedding guests recognize that certain components are commonplace in ceremonies and receptions. Perhaps you were once a ring bearer or caught the bouquet? There’s a rich history behind the traditions that feature prominently at many weddings. Here’s a look at traditions past and present and the meaning behind these customs.
The custom of marriage can be traced back thousands of years to when hunters and gatherers started coming together to form societies and farm land. In order to ensure the success of communities, couplings were developed to produce offspring and maintain households.
Tie the knot
Getting married is sometimes referred to as “tying the knot.” This stems from the custom of “handfasting,” which is a common practice among various cultures around the world, and notably in ancient Rome. The bride and groom’s hands are tied together for the duration of the ceremony, not to be released until the wedding is made official. This isn’t something you see too often at modern weddings, but can be something unique couples may want to consider.
A bouquet of beautiful flowers is held by the bride on her wedding day. Roses, orchids, peonies, and other fragrant blooms are often included, but in ancient times brides’ bouquets were likely made of herbs. According to the resource Minted Weddings, these aromatic herbs were used to ward off evil spirits.
Evil spirits also were the basis for the wearing of bridal veils, as they were utilized to hide brides from these miscreants. Veils now are more style than substance.
In ancient Rome, bridesmaids were tasked with protecting the bride. They wore the same dresses as the bride to confuse evil spirits from finding the soon-to-be-betrothed and cursing her. Today’s bridesmaids are less decoy and more helper. They may wear similar dresses to the bride and one another, but they aren’t trying to fool any spirits.
Rice and grains were long regarded as signs of prosperity and fertility, according to the gifting company Personal Creations. Therefore, couples were showered with rice to ensure their good fortune. Consumption of uncooked rice has been proven to be detrimental to some wildlife, so rice has now been widely replaced with bubbles or birdseed.
Cutting the cake
At the reception, many couples link hands and make the first cut in their wedding cakes. Wedding Wire says it’s a tradition that around 80 percent of wedding couples partake in. It is believed this tradition symbolizes the couple’s first official task performed together, and marks the promise to support and take care of one another throughout the marriage. However, in the past, brides were responsible for cutting the wedding cake alone and distributed slices to guests to aid in fertility, according to BakingNook.com.
Weddings are full of traditions with interesting histories.