The last decade has seen a dating revolution, but wedding traditions remain largely untouched. Even nontraditional brides frequently wear white, share a dance with their fathers, and request that their guests gather to watch them take the first bite of cake. Some traditions seem obvious, like the pure white dress common in Western wedding ceremonies. Others are much more perplexing, like the luck of finding a spider on the wedding dress or placing a sugar cube on the bride to sweeten her marriage.
Many traditions have ancient roots. Wearing a veil dates back to Ancient Rome wear the bride would cover her face to protect her from evil, jealous spirits. Similarly, carrying a bride over the threshold is a medieval superstition down to avoid bringing in bad luck to their new home. Wearing something old and something new, commonly practiced by American brides, comes from an Old English rhyme.
Regardless of how unorthodox the tradition may seem, the final objective for all weddings is the same: to celebrate love. Below you will find a list of wedding traditions from around the world that will warm your heart even as they make you question how they came about. As long as the marriage ends in eternal happiness, it is a victory for all parties involved.
Along with unique wedding customs performed around the world, there are also traditional wedding objects with interesting historical significance that have been used in weddings for generations. Read more on a few of the most common objects below.
- The bridal cup has roots in German folklore. According to the legend, a rich nobleman imprisoned his daughter’s true love because he didn’t think him worthy. After watching her suffering, he agreed to release the man and allow the marriage if he could create a cup from which two people could drink without spilling a drop. From this, the bridal cup was born.
- The hope chest comes from the time when a dowry was given to a man in exchange for him taking on the burden of care from the bride’s family. In Victorian Era United States, young women were given chests to prepare for matrimony which they filled with items needed for their future lives like blankets, dresses, and other household items.
- Wedding rings were used by the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans, who all revered the circle’s symbolical representation of eternity and the display of wealth demonstrated by the gold. In the 17th century, diamonds were added to the mix as a further display of love, affection, and status
Next time you attend a wedding, or when walk down the aisle yourself, consider why certain behaviors are expected. For example, the bride wears something borrowed from a happily married couple so that their good fortune will rub off. Typically the mother, sister, or other relatives will gift the bride a small token to include in her wedding day outfit for luck, like a piece of antique jewelry. When planning a wedding or purchasing a gift for a happy couple, consider giving the couple something steeped in history like antique wooden kitchen accessories or a blue brooch to wear on the walk down the aisle.