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Something Borrowed, Something Blue – Wedding Traditions and Superstitions

9th January 2018

Everyone knows that it’s bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the big day, but did you know that the most popular day for weddings is also considered a tempt of fate? From the well known and adhered to, to the weird and wacky, read on to learn about some of the ways to try and ensure your marriage will be a happy one.

Planning

Although the nice weather may be a factor, the popularity of June as a choice of wedding date can also be attributed to the link to Roman goddess Juno, who rules over marriage, childbirth and the hearth. Wednesday is traditionally thought of as the best day for a wedding, while Monday is for wealth, and Tuesday is for health. Saturday, however, was traditionally considered an unlucky day to hold a wedding – which is unfortunate considering its popularity today!

Timing wise, it is considered good luck for the bride and groom to recite their vows while the clock’s minute hand is ascending ‘towards heaven’ (i.e upwards). And if rain on your wedding day is your biggest fear – don’t fret! It’s considered very lucky, bringing fertility and cleansing to the new couple. However, if this doesn’t quell your fears about a soggy service, legend has it that if you bury a bottle of bourbon at the wedding venue a month before, your day will be a dry one – other than the bottle of bourbon you can dig up and enjoy in the celebrations!

Wedding Wear

Wedding dresses are traditionally white, representing the virginity and purity of the bride. While wedding dresses in Japan have been white for much longer, Queen Victoria popularised the colour choice in this country with her wedding in 1840. Prior to this, brides simply wore their favourite colour or their nicest dress. If you’re thinking of asking your future husband’s advice on your prized gown, don’t – it’s commonly considered very unlucky for the groom to see the bride’s wedding dress until the ceremony, while some believe that it is unlucky for the groom to even sneak a peak as the bride is walking down the aisle. And you can forget your arachnophobia on the big day, as it is considered good luck to find a spider on your dress – eek!

Veils have also made up a key part of the bride’s outfit, traditionally worn to protect the modesty and chastity of the bride, while protecting from evil spirits that may be threatened by her beauty. It is also thought that veils may have been worn in the ceremonies of arranged marriages to hide the bride’s face until the groom had committed to the marriage – meaning he couldn’t back out once he saw her! Nowadays veils are often worn off of the face, instead being worn in the hair and cascading down the bride’s back.

Flowers are a key part of not only wedding wear, but an entire wedding, held in a bouquet by the bride for their beauty and delicate scent. A matching flower is often worn in the groom’s buttonhole, a tradition which can be dated back to the times when knights would wear their lady’s colours on their suit of armour as a declaration of love.

While the dress, veil and flowers are well known wedding wear customs, a less common one is the Greek tradition of tucking a sugar cube into the bride’s glove to sweeten the union. A nice way of incorporating this into your ceremony without having to add some gloves to your attire is tying them to your bouquet.

Finally, the rhyme of ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence for your shoe’ is a common superstitious tradition adhered to in wedding planning. With ‘something old’ linking to the bride’s past and family and ‘something new’ for good fortune and success in the couple’s future, the ‘something borrowed’ is thought to represent family and friends who will always be there, or perhaps even the idea of borrowing an item from someone in a happy marriage in the hope that the happiness will rub off on them. The ‘something blue’ represents purity, loyalty and love, while the silver sixpence is for wealth, both financial and happiness-wise.

Cake

The tradition of a wedding cake originates from Roman times, in which bread would be broken over the bride’s head to symbolise fertility. Nowadays it is the fruit and nuts used in cakes that symbolise fertility. Tiered cakes are thought to be inspired by an old game in which the bride and groom would attempt to kiss over an ever-higher cake without toppling it over, with the common 3 tiered cake design thought to be inspired by the spire of the aptly named St. Bride’s Church in London. If the top tier of the cake is a fruitcake, it is commonplace for this to be kept and saved until the christening of the couple’s first child – a sponge cake wouldn’t last! And albeit messy, it is believed that if a single woman was to sleep with a piece of the wedding cake under her pillow, she would dream of her future spouse.

It doesn’t stop there…

Everyone knows about the throwing of the bouquet – the bride throws her bouquet over her shoulder, with the woman that catches it said to be the next to marry. A similar tradition exists regarding the bride’s garter -which used to be shown to the wedding guests as proof of the wedding’s consummation, and later was fought over by guests as it was rumoured as lucky – in which the groom tosses the item to the single men, with the man catching it the next to be married.

After the wedding, it is the tradition for the groom to carry his wife over the threshold of their home, in order to protect her from evil spirits lurking below. And if you’re thinking of jetting off on a honeymoon, you should know that the custom originates from when a groom would capture his bride – the couple hiding from their parents and getting married in secret, before continuing to hide away for a further cycle of the moon, celebrating with honey wine.

 

Of all of the superstitions there are regarding weddings, many are simply continued for tradition’s sake. If you wish to wear a purple wedding dress or get married on a Saturday, it is up to you whether or not you decide to try your luck…!

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