A wedding ceremony is a wonderful event – a rite-of-passage full of ritual and symbolism.
Have you ever wondered where these rituals and practices come from and why we do these things? Here are the origins of some common wedding ceremony traditions.
The White Wedding Gown
We can thank Queen Victoria for the tradition of wearing a white wedding gown. She was the first to wear a white satin and lace dress for her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840.
Colored gowns were common at the time as white fabric was considered impractical (hard to come by, and hard to keep clean). Many brides wore their “Sunday Best.”
Enter Queen Victoria. She had some beautiful lace that she wanted incorporated into her wedding gown. The final product was made of white satin. Although she wasn’t the first royal bride to wear a white gown, it was her choice of attire that caught on and inspired brides to be married in white.
Today, while most brides still opt for the white gown, it’s not unusual to see non-white wedding gowns. Vera Wang’s fall 2014 bridal collection featured various shades of pink, including rose, coral and peony; and she also created bridal collections of red and black.
Bridesmaids Dressing Alike
Centuries ago, all of the women, including the bride, dressed alike, not just the bridesmaids. This was to confuse the evil spirits who lurked around. The evil spirits intended to cause harm and ill will to the bride. Since everyone was dressed the same, the evil spirits couldn’t tell who was the bride, and so were unable to cause any harm or mischief.
The Ceremony Processional
The ceremony starts with the processional, the formal entering of the wedding party.
Many couples have only the bride’s attendants walk in during the ceremony processional (with the groom’s attendants coming out with the groom and officiant), however having the entire wedding party enter as couples is perfectly acceptable. It’s your preference.
The processional dates back hundreds of years ago when a wedding ceremony was preceded by dancing (celebrating the joy of life) to the ceremony locale. Through the years the dancing evolved into the modern processional.
With This Ring
During the ceremony, couples exchange wedding rings.
The practice of exchanging wedding rings dates back thousands of years to the Romans, Egyptians, and Greeks.
The symbolism of the wedding ring originated with the Egyptians. A ring is round, with no beginning and no end. It represents eternity and the never-ending love of the couple.
In ancient Rome and Greece, wedding rings were used to represent a promise of fidelity.
International Wedding Customs
Sealed With A Kiss
Who can forget the kiss when the couple are pronounced husband and wife? We can thank the Ancient Romans for this as they sealed contracts with a kiss. Also, it was believed that as a couple kiss, their breath intermingles, therefore giving each other a little bit of their souls.
Decorating The Getaway Car
Tying shoes to the back of the getaway car dates back to ancient Assyrian, Hebrew and Egyptian cultures where exchanging shoes sealed an agreement or contract.
Tin cans were later used although it is unclear as to when this practice began). It was thought that the clanking sound would scare away any evil spirits.
Hearts, Joy, Love!
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Queen Victoria – unknown
Bridesmaid walking down aisle, and
Bride and father walking down aisle
Jeff Schaefer Photography
Stargazer lily with rings, and
Sandra Reed Photography
Bride with bridesmaids,
Wedding party lined up for processional, and
Weddings From The Heart