1. You may kiss the bride...

Once as important as signing the marriage certificate - it was legally binding in ancient times - today when we hear "you may kiss the bride" it's time to clap, cheer and prepare to party!

2. The bride is on the left...

We all know the bride stands to the left of the groom - and walks down the aisle on her father's left arm, but why? It dates back to ancient times when the groom apparently needed to keep his right arm free in case he had to quickly draw his sword for combat. Funny that we still stick with this one, with the bride's family and friends typically seated on the left-hand side and the groom's on the right without a sword in sight....

3. Why the bride is late...

Why is it that the groom is left to sweat it out at the wedding ceremony awaiting the "fashionably late" arrival of his bride - apparently an average of 8 minutes late? Well it has nothing to do with fashion, that's for sure.

The tradition behind the groom being there first stems from the idea it was his duty to literally lead the bride into her new life of love and happiness. For those keen to keep tradition alive, the groom should say his vows first - a convention which began as a nod to his position of responsibility within the union.

4. Giving the bride away...

The idea of the father "giving away the bride" is to hand over responsibility for care of his daughter to his future son-in-law. It's also therefore a sign of him giving his utmost blessing to the marriage.

Today, when the minister or celebrant asks "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?", the bride's parents will often both reply.

5. Throwing confetti...

Back in the days when rice and grain were thrown over the bride and groom as they left the church it was all about wishing them fertility. These days we shower people in petals, bird seed, bubbles and more, well, just because it's fun and looks pretty. Reason enough, right?

6. Bouquets...

Today's bridal bouquets are usually chosen for their colour, to suit the wedding theme or just because they're the bride's favourite blooms. Of course that wasn't always the case. The original concept behind the bouquet was to carry a collection of herbs, flowers and spices which all had symbolic meaning. The herbs and spices represented fertility and new life - and warded off evil spirits and family demons; while flowers signified purity and innocence.

Some brides still choose flowers for their meaning though, with stephanotis (marital happiness), gardenia (purity, joy), rose (love, joy, beauty) and lily (majesty, truth, honour) popular picks among sentimental couples.

The tradition of throwing the bouquet into a crowd of unwed women to identify who'll be the next to marry is an enduring one, but many people mightn't know that if she drops it then the story changes and she'll supposedly go from first to last on the marrying list.

For those who like to take tradition a little further, the man who caught the garter can put it on the woman who caught the bouquet with the "couple" then starting off the next dance.

7. The engagement ring...

If we go all the way back to Ancient Greece, the engagement ring was originally a gift given by the groom to his future father-in-law as a symbol of the husband's promise to look after his bride, with the stone in the ring said to represent eternal happiness - no doubt it was also an indication of the groom's financial security.
Today traditional engagements are set with diamonds, but other popular picks include precious gems and the bride's birth

8. The wedding ring...

Although nobody knows exactly when the first wedding rings appeared, we do know ancient Egyptian brides were buried with rings and ancient Greeks and Romans made iron wedding rings for their future wives. The idea of wearing the ring on the third finger of the left hand is believed to stem from the vein there which has a direct link to the heart.

Today the wedding ring is given as a symbol of commitment, love and respect, with the circular shape representing unity and eternal love.

9. Marrying on the half-hour...

Chinese tradition states that a bride and groom should marry on the half-hour, not on the hour so that they begin their married life when the hands of the clock are moving up and not down.

10. Never marry in May...

Back in ancient Roman times, May was considered the unluckiest month of the year as it coincided with the festival for the dead - there's even a nursery rhyme to back it up swith the lines: "Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day".

11. A silver sixpence in your shoe...

Slipping a silver coin in your shoe signifies an abundance of wealth, both emotionally and financially.

wedding traditions

12. The trousseau...

Originally comprising whatever the bride's father gave her as a dowry - her worldly possessions to bring to the marriage such as linens and clothing - today the trousseau is largely known as a glory box but is a dying tradition in western cultures.

13. Something old...

Signifies the bride's ongoing link with the traditions of her family. Popular choices are to wear a bridal accessory such as a veil or tiara, or a piece of jewellery that was passed down from someone in her family.

14. Something new...

Represents the start of a brides new life, and hope for the future. This can be represented by the wedding gown, shoes or any other new bridal accessory.

15. Something borrowed...

Is a nod to strong ties with friends and extended family. This could be a borrowed piece of jewellery from a family member or a friend. A popular choice is to borrow a lace handkerchief from a friend or family member who is happily married, so that their good fortune may be passed on.

16. Something blue...

Symbolises all things pure, such as faithfulness, loyalty, devotion and everlasting love. This can be a blue garter, a blue love heart sewn into the hem of your wedding dress or blue wedding shoes. Aaaaww - how can you resist?

17. The veil...

The original idea behind the lifting of the bridal veil was to symbolise her crossing from her family's home to that of her husband. Many believe the veil represents innocence and purity, with the lifting (and first kiss) only taking place after the exchanging of vows.

18. Wedding handkerchief...

The wedding handkerchief is often passed down through generations of brides in a family, and can be used for the something old tradition. Superstition says that if the bride sheds a tear on her wedding day, she will never cry again for the duration of her marriage.

19. Bridal attendants...

Most of us love having bridesmaids and groomsmen, our nearest and dearest sharing the big day by our side, but where did the idea come from?

Apparently they were originally there as some kind of bodyguard, dressed in similar gear to the bride and groom to confuse evil spirits as to who was who so that no spells could be cast on the newlyweds.

20. Flower girls...

The idea of young girls scattering something along the path before the bride was to pay homage to the Gods of fertility on her behalf. Originally it was grains and fragrant herbs, becoming flowers in Elizabethan times.

21. The bridal garter...

We have the French to blame for the tradition of throwing the garter, which stems from the idea that owning a precious piece of the bride's wedding attire would bring good fortune and happiness. In years gone by, hordes of guests would often compete for the prize with parts of the dress often torn to shreds in the process, which is why brides began throwing the garters themselves.

Today, only unmarried men are the recipients, with whoever catches the garter said to be the next to marry.

22. Cutting the cake...

The cutting of the wedding cake takes place at the reception. The bride holds the knife and the groom places his hand over hers to make the cut. This symbolises the plunge the couple has taken, as they embark on a new life together. 

Originally the bride would cut up the cake herself for all the wedding guests, however as wedding cakes became larger and multi-tiered the groom pitched in to help. Today the cake is whisked away for someone behind the scenes to cut it up and distribute to guests.

23. Feeding your spouse cake...

In ancient Rome, couples pledged their unity by sharing food. Today a Japanese bride and groom drink sake together, Jewish couples drink from the same cup of consecrated wine, and Muslim couples eat from the same piece of candy.

24. White wedding cake...

The idea of the wedding cake being white comes from Victorian times, when it was meant to reflect the bride's purity and virginity, but there were also more practical reasons at play. Refined sugar was hard to come by, so only the most affluent families could afford to ice the cake with pure white icing, meaning the whiter the cake, the higher the family's social standing.

25. Keeping the top tier...

Couples often keep a layer of their wedding cake (in the freezer) until the birth of their first child or to share on their first wedding anniversary.

Some say that if a bride keeps a piece of her cake it will ensure her husband will never stray.

26. Cake under your pillow...

Tradition also says that if an unmarried female guest keeps a piece of wedding cake and places it under her pillow, the bride's good fortune will spill over to her, and she will soon find her future husband.  It also suggests you will dream of your future spouse. 

27. "Tying the knot"...

There are competing ideas on where the idea of "tying the knot" comes from. Some say the ancient Romans are to blame since the bride would wear a knotted girdle which the groom had to untie, while others say that in ancient Babylon threads were taken from both the bride and the groom's garments and tied together in a symbolic act. Either way, we're pretty sure the expression's here to stay.

28. Unity candle...

Having the bride and groom each light a candle - and then join the flames as they light one unity candle - is said to symbolise family unity.

29. Wedding bells...

It is tradition for wedding bells to be sounded after the ceremony. Originally this was to safeguard the bride and groom from evil spirits and other undesirable presences, but nowadays it is a sign that a couple has become husband and wife.

30. Wedding handkerchief...

Whether because of tradition or to mop up those emotional moments, plenty of brides carry a pretty handkerchief for their wedding day, and often it's an item passed down through generations of brides in the one family and often used as the "something old" in a bride's big day arsenal.

31. Wedding toasts...

In Medieval times, the sound of bells was said to scare off the devil (who apparently liked to appear at celebratory occasions), so guests would clink their glasses to imitate the sound and make sure evil wouldn't come their way.

32. The receiving line...

In times past it was a common belief that the bride and groom were blessed with exceptional luck, and guests would line up to touch them in the hope a little of that good fortune would come their way. Today, the receiving line gives the couple a chance to speak to every guest, receive congratulations and thank them for coming - whether or not you decide to do it may depend upon how many guests you've invited!

33. Wedding car decorations...

The idea of tying tin cans, old shoes, bells or anything noisy to the back of the wedding car was to make plenty of noise to scare away evil spirits - leaving the newlyweds free to begin their lives free of any curses. It seems evil spirits were a serious concern for marrying couples in times gone past.....

34. White wedding dress...

Brides haven't always worn white, with bold colours once the colour of choice for brides in times gone by. As for who we have to thank for the white gown tradition, some say it's the wife of Napoleon the Third, others blame the daughters of Queen Victoria. Either way, it's widely accepted that the symbolism was the same: virginal purity.

35. Carrying the bride over the threshold...

Once a precaution against evil spirits or family demons (which seem to have been a common concern in ages past), the groom carrying his bride across the threshold of their new home was thought to protect the new lady of the house from harm.

Going back even further and the tradition came from a time when brides were literally carried, kicking and screaming, across the threshold having been forced to tie the knot without their consent.

Fortunately today it's just a bit of fun when it happens, as well as a test of the groom's strength!

36. The honeymoon...

When it comes to the honeymoon tradition, it's tricky to get to the truth. We've uncovered a raft of rumours, from the story that back in the days when husbands-to-be literally "took" a bride without her constant (which involved kidnapping her and hiding her from her family until the next full moon and plying her with a potent honey brew blend to promote fertility) to the 5th century idea that newlyweds drank mead, a honey-based alcoholic drink during their first "moon" of marriage for its alleged aphrodisiac properties.

Perhaps most plausible is that the origin comes from the Old English term "hony moone" with "hony" referring to the "indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newlywed couple" and "moone" referring to the fleeting amount of time that sweetness would last.

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