Wedding Tradition Origins

Some wedding traditions offer sweet reminders of the practice of marriage, while others seem a bit antiquated. Here’s how they originated, according to academic encyclopedia Marriage Customs of the World.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue

Each of the items arefrom the Old English rhyme. Something old puts good faith in the bride’s past, something new shows optimism for the couple’s future, something borrowed should be from someone who is happily married, bringing the couple a bit of good fortune. Something blue represents fidelity.

The bride and groom can’t lay eyes on one another before the wedding

While this does make for a great first-look moment, it used to serve a much darker purpose. During the time of arranged marriages, families believed if the couple saw each other before the wedding, they may want to back out. Couples had to make a life-long commitments, sight unseen.

The bride stands on the left

Urban legend dictates that, back during the days of marriage-by-capture the groom needed his right hand, usually the dominant one, free to fight off other suitors. Until the bride was married she was still eligible to be captured, so the groom had to be prepared in case someone tried to sweep her away at the last minute.

Carrying the bride over the threshold

According to lore, a happy bride attracts jealous, evil spirits—by keeping her feet from touching the ground, a protective barrier is placed between her and them. It’s also considered a bad omen if one trips or falls into their new home, so it brings better luck to be carried.

Bridesmaids wearing the same dresses

This perplexing tradition has links all the way back to Ancient Rome when bridesmaids not only wore dresses that matched one another, but matched the bride, as well. The purpose was to make the bride indistinguishable from the others, and therefore protect her from evil spirits and suitors she once turned down. The bridesmaids acted as decoys, letting the actual bride go on with her wedding without these unwanted interruptions. By the Victorian era, the threat of demons wasn’t so great and the brides started dressing more elaborately than their bridal party.

Veils, which also originated in Rome, were worn to protect the bride from evil spirits as well.


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