Many women have been planning their wedding days since they were little girls.
Trying to orchestrate the perfect ceremony and reception is no easy feat, and most feel that their wedding celebration would be incomplete without a few wedding traditions. While some traditions are relatively new, a rare few date back to surprisingly early times in history. And as it turns out, several of them have some pretty wacky and bizarre origins.
1. Before the bride’s bouquet was made up of flowers, they were made of herbs such as dill and garlic.
Centuries ago during the years when the plague took the lives of thousands of people across the globe, the arrangements that brides carried were bundles of herbs like garlic and dill, which were used in an effort to help keep the brides alive.
2. Throwing the bridal garter to wedding guests came about as a means to protect the bride.
In France, it was once tradition for wedding guests to rush to the bride and attack her for a scrap of her dress. These scraps were considered tokens of good luck. Throwing the garter is a much safer and less destructive alternative.
3. Bridesmaid dresses weren’t always like they are now.
In ancient Rome, both the bridesmaids and groomsmen donned attire that was nearly identical to what the bride and groom were wearing. The matching outfits served as a way to keep evil spirits from pinpointing the happy couple and ruining their the beginning of the rest of their lives together. Our fears of evil spirits have since subsided for the most part, allowing bridesmaids to stand out in a variety of colors.
4. Veils also warded off evil spirits.
Ancient Rome must’ve been a pretty superstitious society. If a Roman bride went without a veil, she was believed to be much more susceptible to spiritual enchantment. Today, though, veils are largely decorative.
5. A couple’s honeymoon has a rather boozy origin story.
As part of Norse tradition, newlyweds went into hiding for 30 days following their ceremony. During this time, a friend or family member of the bride would bring her a daily cup of honey wine. This month of wine consumption later became known as a honeymoon. Now, most couples leave their family and friends at home!
6. Pope Innocent III introduced the idea of waiting between the proposal and the wedding day in 1214.
The pope declared that women should wear a ring to show their commitment to their future spouses and discourage potential suitors.
7. The phrase “jumping the broom” dates back to slave times.
Slaves were not allowed to legally wed, so to show their commitment to one another, they would have their own ceremonies at which they’d do things like jump over a broomstick.
8. We tie tin cans to the back of our car after the ceremony because of a French party known as the “charivari.”
Long ago, the groom would have to physically fight suitors and literally kidnap the woman he wished to marry. The charivari was an all-night party he later threw to repay the locals for the damage done during those shenanigans. Tying tin cans to the bumper of your car is a way to pay homage to this custom.
9. Bachelor parties wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Sparta.
On the eve of a man’s wedding day, Spartans would hold loud and boisterous parties to celebrate his last night of freedom. The party often included a giant feast and a great deal of alcohol. To avoid a wedding day hangover, they would water down the groom’s wine.
10. You have Queen Victoria to thank for the tradition of wearing white on your wedding day.
Prior to Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert in 1840, brides simply wore their best dresses to their weddings. The queen initiated the white dress trend when she commissioned a white lace gown for her wedding day.
11. Your layered wedding cake was actually part of a medieval kissing game.
In medieval times, there was a game in which wedding guests would stack layers of cake atop one another, and then the couple had to kiss above them. The game doesn’t exist today, but layered cakes have become the norm, with couples typically feeding each other bites of the first slice.
12. The term “tying the knot” has a literal origin.
In Celtic, Hindu, and Egyptian weddings, the couple’s hands were tied together as a symbol of their commitment to and bond with one another.
13. The reason the bride traditionally stands on the left used to be for her own protection.
Because taking a woman’s hand in marriage often left the groom fighting off her potential suitors, his right side was left open so that he could more easily fend off anyone trying to get in the way of his future happiness.
14. The ring finger is known as such because of the ancient Egyptians.
They believed that the vein in your fourth finger on your left hand led directly to your heart. By wearing your wedding band on that finger, you were said to be keeping your lover near and dear to your heart.