Some wedding traditions are just so common in our culture that we don’t even give them a second thought. But do you even know why the bride needs something borrowed and something blue on her big day? Why on Earth is it customary for the newlyweds to keep a slice of wedding cake in their freezer for an entire year after saying “I do”?! And why do brides go to such lengths to keep their grooms from seeing their dresses before it’s time to walk down the aisle?
The experts at PAPER & LACE thought it would be fun to debunk some of the most common – and most peculiar – wedding superstitions to figure out where they even come from and what they really mean.
Wedding Superstitions & Traditions: Explained
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
This well-known wedding rhyme is thought to bring the bride good luck on her big day… but why?
According to Victorian tradition, wearing “something old” expresses the newlywed couple’s desire to stay connected with their families even after they’ve tied the knot. One tradition suggests that the bride’s “something old” be an old garter given to the bride by a happily married woman so that the new bride would also enjoy a happy marriage.
“Something new” conveys that the couple is creating their new life together that will endure and looks to the future for health, happiness, and success.
“Something borrowed” is an opportunity for the bride’s friends or family to lend her something special as a token of their love. And finally, “something blue” is meant to symbolize fidelity (this one began in ancient Israel, where brides wore a blue ribbon in their hair to symbolize loyalty to their new husbands).
Many brides today find it fun to keep with tradition by wearing something old, new, borrowed, and blue. You can totally find creative ways to incorporate all four items into your wedding-day ensemble (cough, cough, vintage-glam gown definitely counts as something old!).
The Groom Can’t See The Wedding Dress!
This one will give you a good laugh. Back in the day when arranged marriages were “normal,” the couple-to-be wasn’t allowed to see each other before the wedding at all. Instead of never-ending love, the wedding more symbolized a business deal between two families (romantic, huh?), and a father would have been pleased for his daughter to marry a man from a rich, land-owning family. But he also worried that if the groom met the bride before the wedding and thought she wasn’t attractive, he’d call off the wedding.
Therefore, it became tradition that the bride and groom were only allowed to meet at the wedding ceremony so that the groom did not have the opportunity to change his mind.
Oh, and that veil the bride wears? Its original purpose was also to keep the groom from finding out what the bride looked like until the last possible minute, when it was too late to back out of the transaction.
Although arranged marriages are no longer common (thankfully), most brides still don’t want their groom to see them all done up before the wedding. On the other hand, some couples feel they’ll be more relaxed if they see each other even if for just a few minutes before the ceremony. It is really up to you and you groom and what makes you two most comfortable!
It used to be thought that once a wedding took place, a baby was going to come shortly after. And since the top tier of the wedding cake was almost always left over, couples began to see the christening as the perfect opportunity to finish the cake. After the wedding, they would freeze the top layer of the cake to save until the christening of their future child!
Couples could then logically rationalize the need for three tiers — the bottom for the reception, the middle for distributing, and the top for the christening.
Nowadays, couples enjoy saving the top layer of their wedding cake to eat on their first anniversary as a pleasant reminder of their special day.
The Bouquet & Garter Toss
This one’s probably a little more risqué than you thought!
In medieval times, it was considered lucky to get a fragment of the bride’s clothing, so hordes of guests would follow the newlywed couple into their wedding chamber after the ceremony and stand around the bed, trying to rip pieces of the bride’s gown right off her body (no, we’re not joking!).
Because dresses were often torn apart, brides searched for alternatives to preserve their gowns and began throwing their bouquets to distract guests while they made their getaway. When the bride and groom made it safely into their wedding chamber, the groom would then crack open the door and toss the bride’s garter to the throngs of people waiting outside as a way of saying that he was about to “seal the deal.”
At many weddings these days, the groom removes and tosses the bride’s garter to the groomsmen right after the bride tosses her bouquet to the bridesmaids.
Traditionally, the unmarried man who catches the garter must place it on the leg of the unmarried woman who catches the bouquet, and it is said that they will be the next two to marry (not necessarily to each other).
More Myths Explained
Rain on the Wedding Day
In some cultures, rain on your wedding day symbolizes fertility and cleansing.
Knives as Wedding Gifts
According to folklore, a knife signifies a broken relationship and is bad luck to give as a wedding gift. If knives are on your registry, give the gift giver a penny. That’ll make it count as more of a “purchase” rather than a gift.
Carrying the Bride over the Threshold
This superstition began in Medieval Europe where many believed that a bride was extra vulnerable to evil spirits through the soles of her feet. To avoid bringing in any evil spirits, the groom carried the bride into their new home for the first time.
As you approach your big day, there’s nothing to be afraid of! As you can see, many of these bizarre superstitions and traditions have simply become fun rituals over time. Tackle and enjoy your wedding with an open mind – and remember that, even if you aren’t carried over the threshold, it doesn’t necessarily mean evil spirits will enter through your wedding heels! Ha!