Wedding ceremonies are brimming with traditions that date back centuries. While many of these customs have gained new meanings over the years, it’s fun to know their origins. Many of the wedding traditions that have withstood the test of time started as means for protection and luck, as well as commitment and unity for the betrothed. Here are some of the most common wedding traditions and their fascinating stories!
Bride on the Left, Groom on the Right
As you attend weddings, you’ll likely notice that the bride traditionally stands on the left, with the groom to the right. This tradition dates back to the Middle Ages when grooms needed to be able to defend their brides, who were often kidnapped by competition. Standing on the right during the ceremony allowed the groom to keep their sword-fighting hand free while holding the bride with his left hand. Though brides now have little worry about kidnappings on their wedding day, it has become a standard and helps ease the flow of the ceremony, but it is ultimately up to the couple to decide.
Wearing a veil dates back to Ancient Rome
brides would wear veils to disguise themselves from evil spirits looking to ruin the wedding day. Historically, they’ve also been used across various cultures to represent modesty and purity. In modern times, veils have limitless lengths and styles for brides to choose from, depending on the look they’re aiming for on their wedding day. While many brides still take part in incorporating veils into their wedding look, some may opt to switch it out for ornate clips or tiaras — or nothing at all!
“Something blue” is part of an Old English rhyme: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” The “something blue” portion was originally included to ward off evil spirits and represent love and fidelity. The color blue is specifically used due to its Christian symbolism; The Virgin Mary is often depicted wearing blue, a color that has long represented purity. Also, historically brides wore hues of blue rather than white for their wedding attire. Brides today often include blue in their wedding ensemble in many creative ways, including sewn-in handkerchiefs in their dresses, blue heirlooms, sapphire jewelry, blue shoes, and more.
Bourbon Bottle Burial
Burying a bottle of bourbon at the couple’s
wedding venue is a Southern wedding
tradition rumored to reward them with a
rainless wedding day. No one quite knows
where this tradition started, but there is a
few rules that must be followed in order for
the sunny wedding day wish to come true.
First, the bottle should be bourbon, not
whiskey. Second, the bottle must be
unopened, buried upside down, and placed
in the ground precisely one month before
the big day.
In Ancient Rome, grooms would break a piece of wheat or barley cake over their bride’s head for fertility and luck. The couple would then enjoy the cake together as one of the first unified acts in their marriage. During Medieval times, this tradition evolved to stacking spiced buns and cookies for the couple to kiss over. It was said that if the sweets didn’t topple, it was a sign of good luck. Over the years, this tradition has evolved to look more like the traditional tiered cake couples normally cut together to serve their guests. Nowadays, some couples opt for a more modern twist on this tradition by choosing cupcakes or handheld confections, rather than the typical tiered cake. These smaller desserts are often less expensive, providing more bite-sized portions and a larger variety of yummy flavors.
Prior to the 1800s, it was considered good luck simply to touch the bride on her wedding day. In a time when a woman’s marriage affected her social and economic position, becoming a bride was a necessary part of life and a very coveted role. In some cases, single guests were said to go so far as to take pieces of the bride’s gown to increase their chances of marriage. To avoid their dresses being torn, brides would toss their bouquets as they ran away. Over time, the toss became a fun way for brides to share their luck with single attendees in a more fun and lighthearted way.
Photography: MDB Photography (A Red Gate Farms Preferred Vendor)
There’s nothing quite like popping a bottle of bubbly to kick off the celebrations of the evening! The tradition of a wedding toast is said to date back to 6th century Greece when wine was consumed ceremoniously to offer appreciation to the gods for good health. The phrase “toast” dates back to Shakespearean days when guests would dip stale toast into their wine to soak up the acidity and make the drink more enjoyable. In the late 19th century, champagne became the celebratory libation of choice and has become a staple of joyous celebrations over time. These days, couples may opt for affordable, equally delicious, prosecco for their toasts! At Red Gate Farms, an in-house celebratory toast can be included as an add-on to your momentous occasion.
The time-honored tradition of sending off the newlyweds after the wedding reception is also said to have started during Ancient Roman times. The reception send-off is a fitting way to wrap up the celebrations of the evening and shower the couple with well wishes as they walk into their new lives together. Throughout the years, guests have thrown rice and other grains as the couple exited their ceremony as this was thought to bring fertility, wealth, and good luck. However, a more modern take is to send off the happy couple with sparklers or bubbles, which Red Gate Farms can assist with in-house should the couple want to include this custom in their celebration.
Commitment & Unity
Photography: MDB Photography (A Red Gate Farms Preferred Vendor)
“Tying the Knot”
“Tying the knot” is a phrase people use nowadays that is synonymous with getting married. Many cultures, like Hindi and Celtic, use handfasting — a ritual where the bride and groom’s hands are tied together — to represent the couple’s commitment to one another. Often, couples will incorporate these types of unity ceremonies into their wedding day by way of rope, sand, or candles to represent the coming together of two families.
Carrying a Wedding Bouquet
Bouquets can be traced all the way back to the Ancient Romans, who believed flowers signified fertility and new beginnings. Some Roman ceremonies used specific herbs and spices with unique symbolism such as ivy, which signified an unbreakable bond.
Towards the Middle Ages, flowers served an alternative purpose of making the smell of common body odor. Today, brides enjoy bouquets for their aesthetic appeal as they walk down the aisle. Not to mention, wedding florals are a beautiful way to bring all of the decor and colors together!
Red Gate Farms
Whether or not you plan to incorporate these wedding traditions, Red Gate Farms is the perfect place to host your special day! Our historic property is home to three stunning and unique venues fit for the wedding celebration of your dreams. Whether large or small, traditional or modern, we can accommodate a variety of events. Get in touch today to learn more or to schedule a tour of our property!