Ever wonder why western wedding traditions are what they are? From the dress details down to the ring, everything has a reason for being included in the big day. In a two part series, I will share with you some fun wedding facts and trivia that you can use for a night at the pub or to wow your wedding crowd with.
A Knot to remember
The phrase “tying the knot” refers to a tradition of the bride and groom having their hands or wrists tied with twine or wrapped together with linen to symbolize their commitment to each other. The earliest reference to this tradition dates back to the 13th century.
Stag parties, more commonly known as bachelor parties, started in Fifth-century Sparta. When a man was to marry, his friends would put together a raunchy party to say goodbye to his bachelor days. In contrast, the bachelorette party did not really become a tradition until 19th century America. Ladies would gather for a luncheon and an afternoon of gossip. 19th century America also gave rise to the bridal shower, as a bride no longer required a dowry in order to marry. Small gifts were wrapped up and hidden inside an umbrella or a parasol, which would “shower” the bride when she opened it up.
A Summertime Wedding
The month of June is the most popular month to get married in America. This stemmed from the Roman goddess, Juno, who is the goddess of marriage and childbearing. There’s an old folk rhyme that also dictated which days were the best to marry: “Marry on Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for crosses, Friday for losses, and Saturday for no luck at all.” (goodreads.com) This tradition has changed in the modern age however. Saturday has become the most coveted day for weddings: our Saturdays book out a year or two in advance.. We nearly never see a Wednesday wedding here at Kiana; but hey, if you’d like a wednesday night wedding, we can certainly arrange that. Our location here in Western Washington, makes August our most popular month for weddings as well because of the typical cool northwest rainy weather.
What’s a girl to wear?
In traditional western culture, wedding dresses were actually just a girls best church dress. The rich would be dressed in rare color, jewels, and beautiful furs. Queen Victoria went white for her big day, starting a new tradition in 1840. The white dress became a symbol for wealth and purity. Bleaching techniques were not very effective at the time, making white a very hard color to both achieve and maintain, naturally making the linen more costly. Traditionally, the style of the dress was just made to the style of the current period. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the floor-length hoop-style skirt became your a-typical fashion. Dresses now come in all shapes and colors; the most popular color is still white after all.
Beware of the Evil Spirits
Veils were worn by ancient Greek and Roman brides to protect them from evil spirits. The tradition of the groom carrying the bride over the threshold of their home stemmed from the same reasoning as well. If a bride or a bridesmaid were to stumble on her way to the altar, it was believed that she would never marry. They also carried bundles of fragrant herbs with them up the aisle, to cleanse the air from the spirits. It was also much welcome in the days where hygiene standards were quite different than they are today. Carriage rides to and from the wedding were quite an event as well. Firecrackers, bells, or other loud noise-makers were used to spook the spirits, and bring luck to the wedding party. Something old, new, borrowed, and blue originated in superstition as well, and symbolized the transition from single to married life.
Wedding traditions is a vast and fascinating subject. There’s a lot more to the basics than meets the eye. From tying the knot, to something borrowed and something blue, there’s a reason why things are as they are. There’s a lot more to come so stay tuned!
Part two, to be continued...