5 More Wedding Traditions and Their History
There are so many wedding traditions that we do without thinking twice about. Here is your opportunity to learn more about the things we do and see when weddings happen today!
Bridal bouquets are an amazing accessory to every bride’s day. They are colorful, fragrant, or personalized with something sentimental to the bride. In the past, they were less of an accessory and more of a necessity. First, the flowers in a bridal bouquet were there to mask the, um, scent of the bride. Back in the 15th century, weddings in June were popular, but bathing was not so much. The flowers helped to cover any odorous issues that were probably happening. Second, bouquets were thought to help ward off evil spirits. They used to contain much more herbs and highly fragrant plants that would help to drive away evil spirits. Later, it was thought that they might help during the time of the Plague.
Third, bouquets also came from Roman times (seems to be a theme!). Back then, brides would wear floral garlands that symbolized fertility and new life. Finally, like I mentioned in the last wedding tradition histories post, the bride have a bouquet to use to distract wedding guests from taking pieces of her dress when she and her new groom were leaving to consummate their marriage.
Today, bridesmaids come in almost every conceivable fashion. There are bridemen, junior bridesmaids, matrons of honor, sisters, cousins, etc. But the history of this group actually comes from many different places. In the ancient Greek and Roman times, the bridesmaids all looked the same and wore veils the same as the bride. This was to ward off and confuse any evil spirits that could spoil the day or marriage. In Roman times, it also took 10 people to bear witness to a marriage to make it official. This group would help serve in that regard.
The tradition also goes back into Biblical times. In the story of Leah and Rachel in the book of Genesis, it says that when they were married to Jacob, each woman brought their own maid with them. While these women were handmaids, rather than social peers, the idea stuck. During the Victorian era is when bridesmaids started to take on the contemporary roles that we see today.
The origin of the best man really is a part of the name itself. In the German Goths of the 16th century, when the bride was coming from a different village or area or if the bride’s parents were not on board with the marriage in general, the best man’s job was to go with the groom to kidnap her and bring her back to be married. At the time, it was much more preferable for the bride to come from the groom’s same village. Typically the best man was chosen because he was, well, the best man for the job. He was usually bigger, muscular, and fairly good with the sword.
Later in history, the best man’s duty was to stand beside the groom, much like they do today. BUT they were still alert and at the ready in case they needed to fend off those trying to take the bride… including the bride’s own family. He would continue his century duty outside of the couple’s new home after the ceremony as they made their marriage official.
Keeping the Top Tier of the Cake
Almost everyone has heard the rhyme “First comes love; then comes marriage; then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” But did you know it was tied to keeping the top tier of the wedding cake? Way back when, having a baby was a logical and expected next step after a couple was married. This often happened relatively shortly after the wedding, or at least within a year or so. With a baby came a christening, which meant yet another cake. Well, as wedding cakes became more elaborate, christening cakes kind of took a back seat. Couples soon realized that they had a lot of wedding cake left over, so would use that instead. It became easier to justify getting a larger cake when they assumed they would be eating the leftovers again soon anyway. Well, things evolved, as things tend to do and the tradition became more about celebrating a first anniversary, rather than a baby. Not a fan of freezing your cake for a year? You may also consider asking a baker to recreate the top tier instead!
Remember how the best man would sometimes have to kidnap the bride before the wedding ceremony? As you can imagine, the bride’s family wasn’t too thrilled with that idea. After the ceremony, the bride and groom would get away and hide so that the family could not come and take the bride back. In a closer idea of what we do today, honeymoons in 19th century Britain would involve travel. But this often meant travel to family and friends in a kind of bridal tour to visit those who could not travel to the ceremony.
Where does the word “Honeymoon” come from? It is actually comes from the Old English “hony moone.” Hony refered to the “indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newly wed couple.” Moone, on the other hand, referred to the short time of happiness that the couple would have. The first recorded description of the word came from 1542, when Samuel Johnson wrote, “The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure; originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full that it begins to wane…”