In Mexico, during the wedding the groom bestows his bride a gift of 13 coins, or arras, representing Jesus and his 12 apostles. The coins are to be blessed by the priest and bear the groom’s promise to care for and provide for his wife.
The Bachelor Party
Known today as the bachelor party, this celebration in the groom's honor was originally called the bachelor dinner, or stag party. It first came about during the fifth century in Sparta, where military comrades would feast and toast one another on the eve of a friend's wedding. Even today, a bachelor party customarily takes place quite close to the actual wedding date, as it has become known as the groom's last taste of freedom.
The Best Man and Ushers
Many years ago, a potential groom would take a group of his friends with him while in pursuit of the bride to help him capture her by force. Often as not, young brides were "kidnapped" from a protective family. Sometimes there would even be a battle between competing suitors. If a potential groom wanted to show that he meant business, he took along the "best man" for the job of helping him fight for his love and he would ward off the bride's relatives while the couple escaped.
Both Feet on the Floor
In the old days of Ireland, couples dined on salt and oatmeal at the beginning of their reception: both the bride and groom would take three mouthfuls as a protection against the power of the evil eye. During the reception, when the couple is dancing, the brides feet must remain on the floor. It is said that Fairies love beautiful things and their favorite beautiful thing is a bride. If the bride was to have even one foot off the ground, then she could be swept away by the Fairies. It is bad luck for a bride, as well as anyone attending the wedding, to wear green at an Irish wedding. It’s also bad luck for a bride or the groom to sing at their own wedding.
Breaking of the Glass
After the groom kisses the bride he breaks the glass with his right foot. Some couples choose to break the glass together. The "glass" is usually a light bulb wrapped in a white napkin or towel. The breaking of the glass has many meanings. The meaning of this act is disputed. Its spiritual significance is reaffirmation of a couple’s faith in God. One interpretation of this ceremony states that once the glass is shattered, it can never return to its former condition, thus symbolizing the couples wish to never return to the time before they shared their lives. Another interpretation is that the marriage will last as long as the glass is broken-- forever. It also symbolizes that marriage is not always as joyous as the wedding itself. The bad times, when our hearts break, are representative of the shattered glass. Some say (with tongue in cheek) that the moment the groom smashes the glass symbolizes the last time he gets to "put his foot down."
The Bridal Party
Bridal Party tradition commenced from the Anglo-Saxon custom of a groom using "Bride’s knights" to make certain that the bride headed for the ceremony and then back to her husband's home without being attacked and the dowry stolen. Have bridesmaids and groomsmen at your wedding, a custom that likely evolved from an ancient Roman law that required 10 witnesses at a wedding. The attendants dressed in identical clothing to confuse envious spirits and help prevent them from knowing which couple was getting married. Now bridal party is all about celebration and enjoyment.
The Bridal Shower
This custom is believed to have started in Holland. Legend has it that a disapproving father would not provide his daughter with a dowry, to discourage her from marrying a less-than-wealthy miller. Her friends provided her with the then-essential dowry by "showering" her with gifts. It is said that the bridal shower proposed to brace the friendships between the bride and her female friends. In the 1890s it evolved into an event for friends to present the bride-to-be with small gifts. The gifts were placed in a parasol, which was released above the brides head, allowing the gifts to "shower" down on her.
A German tradition involves shattering a large number of dishes before the wedding and having the bride and groom cleaned it up. It is believed that the action of cleaning up the mass collection of broken dishes, which the family and friends have worked so hard to make, will help prepare the couple for their new lives together. It might be a little destructive but everyone seems to enjoy themselves and like most customs, bring the couple good luck. In Greece, the custom of breaking plates during the reception symbolizes good luck, happiness and the permanence of marriage.
Carrying the Bride Across the Threshold
This wedding custom originated in Rome. The bride had to be carried across the threshold because she was (or pretended to be) reluctant to enter the bridal chamber. In those days, it was considered ladylike to be hesitant at this point - or at least look hesitant. Ancient Roman grooms lifted their new wives into their houses to prevent them from tripping, a bad omen on the wedding day.
(Another legend has it that the bride was carried over the threshold
to protect her from any evil spirits lingering there).
Clanging Pots & Pans
The French have an interesting after-wedding tradition known as Chiverie. During this traditional prank, friends and family of the newly married couple gather in the evening and clang pots and pans, ring bells, and blow horns intended to startle and interrupt the couple. Upon hearing the noise, the newlyweds are to come out, still wearing their wedding attire, and provide their tormenters various refreshments.
The Coin Game occurs after the wedding festivities, when the bride and groom go to the groom’s parents’ house. Coins and other items are placed into a large bowl filled with red colored water tinted with sindoor. The newlyweds place both hands in the bowl in an attempt to retrieve a particular item. This is done repeatedly and the one who pulls out the most specified items is fated to be the ruler of their home.
Coins in the Bride’s Shoes
An old, adorable Swedish custom is for the bride to carry coins in her shoes.
A silver coin from her father is placed in the left shoe, while a gold coin from her mother in the right shoe, ensuring she will never go without.
Diamond Engagement Ring
In medieval Italy, precious stones were seen as part of the groom's payment for the bride. The groom would give a gift of such stones, which symbolized his intent to marry.
Feeding Each Other the Cake
Feeding each other the cake symbolizes how the couple will feed and nourish the relationship for the rest of their lives. Now, this was meant as a loving and caring symbol for each other. As for smashing cake into each other's faces, no one knows how that started.
Giving Away the Bride
Back when a daughter was considered her father's possession, some formal transfer was necessary during the wedding ritual. Today, the custom symbolizes the parents acceptance of the brides passage from child to adult, and a sign of their blessing of her marriage to her chosen groom.
The Groom’s Cake
The groom's cake is cut post wedding: a piece of the cake is distributed amongst each guest as a memento of the wedding. The belief goes that if a woman slept with a piece of the groom's cake under her pillow, she would dream about the man she would marry.
At Swedish wedding receptions, guests may get an opportunity to kiss the bride or groom. If the bride goes to the restroom, all of the women at the reception line up to kiss the groom. If the groom exits the room and is out of sight, the men line up to kiss the bride.
The bride and groom's honeymoon hasn't always been a post-wedding vacation. The word actually originated in northern Europe from a tradition involving wine made from mead and honey. In order to bring good luck, the newlywed couple drank the sweet wine, called Metheglen, for a month after the wedding. Since a month was known as a moon, this period of time acquired the name honeymoon. Another tradition started in the days when a man captured his bride and needed to hide out until the angry in-laws got tired of looking for her. Now it’s all about going for a long vacation and spending time with each other.
Iron, Veil, and a Shattered Vase
In Italy it was customary for the groom to carry a talisman, piece of iron, in his pocket on the day of his wedding. The talisman was believed to ward off misfortune, while the bride’s veil covered and protected her from evil spirits. When the wedding day came to an end, the newly married couple would shatter a vase or glass into many pieces. The number of pieces represented the expected number of years they would be happily married.
Jumping the Broom
African Americans embrace the “Jumping the broom” ritual. Its origin is a little vague, but its meaning is agreed as the beginning of the newlyweds creating their happy home. The “Jumping the Broom” is a ceremony in which the bride and groom, either at the ceremony or at the reception, signify their entrance into a new life and their creation of a new family by symbolically “sweeping away” their former single lives, former problems and concerns, and jumping over the broom to enter upon a new adventure as wife and husband. This “leap” into a new life (marriage as wife and husband is performed in the presence of families and friends. You can be as creative as you want when planning for this special ceremony. Couples celebrate this rich cultural heritage, irrespective of race, religion, and nationality. The most important thing is its significance; Honoring and respect of your ancestors, their legacy, and your rich African and African American heritage. Coming together of both families, and commitment to each other as wife and husband. It represents strength, love, togetherness, loyalty, and respect which is essential for a successful marriage. This ceremony can also be performed at an anniversary or a renewing of vows ceremony.
Kidnapping the Bride
In many small villages throughout Germany, friends of the bride and groom will kidnap the bride and hide her somewhere. The groom then has to search to find her. Of course the search always begins in the local pub, for obvious reasons,
where the groom will invite everyone to join him in the search,
after buying them all a drink.
This ritual has been known to end badly. . .
Log sawing is just another tradition that seems to really test the bride and grooms physical skills. After the couple are married, a log is positioned between two sawhorses where both the newlyweds must saw in half working together. This is supposedly a sign of how they will handle things together once they are married. Germans also wear their matching wedding bands on their right hands not their left.
Indian weddings, which are traditionally multi-day affairs, involve many
intricate ceremonies, such as “medhndi”, the practice of painting intricate
patterns on the bride’s hands and feet. The idea is to make the bride feel like a princess as she is about to start a new life. There is also a special
dance and song associated with the Mehndi process.
The Maid Of Honor and Bridesmaids
These were the women who helped the bride get away from her overprotective family and other suitors, so that she could be captured by the groom she wanted. When such quaint methods of getting the bride and groom together faded in popularity, the honor roles survived.
The Ring Finger
The third finger on the left hand is considered the ring finger. All engagement and wedding rings are worn there because of an ancient Greek belief that the third finger was believed to be connected by a vein, directly to the heart. Wearing a ring on that finger would not only protect the heart from evil spirits, but also enhance the life of the wearer by transmitting energy to the heart. A Roman scholar later proclaimed that this tradition prevented love from escaping from the heart.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
The odds are pretty strong that you'll be wearing all of the above on your wedding day, but do you know why? The old stands for a bride's ties to her past; the new represents good fortune and success in the bride's new life. The borrowed symbolizes the love and support of her family and friends; and the blue is for faithfulness and loyalty.
Stealing the Groom’s Shoes
It might seem odd, but in this custom everyone is either out to steal the groom’s shoes or protect them. During the ceremony the groom has to remove his shoes prior to entering the alter to be married. Members of the bride’s family are obligated to try to steal the grooms shoes and will go to great lengths to do so. The groom’s family, on the other hand, must protect the shoes and they will also go to extreme measures in order to hide the shoes. If the bride’s family is successful in stealing the groom’s shoes, then the groom must pay whatever amount of money they request to get his shoes back.
The tradition of throwing rice, began in the orient. Rice (which symbolizes fertility) was thrown at the married couple in the hope that this would bring a marriage yielding many children.
Tossing the Bouquet And Garter
This dignified custom began in the thirteen hundreds in France, where the guests used to chase the bride and tear off her garter because they believed it was good luck. To save herself, her leg, and her dress, the bride began removing it voluntarily and tossing it into the eager crowd. Later, the bouquet was added to this toss. The lucky recipient of the bouquet is now believed to be the next woman in the group to get married. The man who catches the garter is supposed to be the next groom.
Veils were originally meant to symbolize the virgin bride’s innocence and modesty. Although, in parts of the Middle East and Asia, the veil is still used to hide the brides face completely. The first lace veil is said to have been worn by a woman named Nelly Curtis, George Washington's adopted daughter, who married one of his aides. Apparently, the first time the aide ever saw her, she was behind a lace curtain. He was mesmerized by her beauty. As the story goes, Nelly made herself a lace veil for the ceremony, in an effort to duplicate the effect. Traditionally it meant that the groom didn't see the bride until the wedding ceremony. It was thought that if the groom had seen the bride before the ceremony was over and didn't like her, he might refuse to get married. So the veil was not lifted until after the ceremony and this is functional even today in modern American wedding. These days, our society considers the veil a purely romantic custom.
The Wedding Cake
Wedding cakes originated in ancient Rome, where a loaf of wheat bread or a cakelike pastry was broken over the brides head to ensure her happiness and wealth and to symbolize hope for a fertile and fulfilling life. Guests would pick up crumbs of this broken pastry for some good luck of their own. The custom found its way to England in the Middle Ages. Guests brought small cakes to a wedding; the cakes were put in a pile, where the bride and groom later stood over and kissed. Apparently, someone came up with the idea of piling all the cakes together and frosting them, creating an early ancestor of the multi-tiered wedding cakes of today.
The Wedding Ring
The idea of the wedding ring itself dates back to ancient times. At that time, a cave-man husband would wrap circles of braided grass around his bride's wrists and ankles, believing it would keep her spirit from leaving her body. The bands evolved into leather, carved stone, metal, and later silver and gold.
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