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Wedding traditions and where they came from

Bridal - By Esther Muchene
Weddings owe it to tradition for the manner in which they are conducted (Shutterstock)

While weddings are fun and exciting, they are full of tradition. But have you ever wondered why weddings happen the way they do?

Well, most of us for the better time want to see couples exchange vows then boom, rush to the reception for refreshments and for the real party to begin.

But why is it that things are done that way? Why can’t you just wake up one morning and decide to do things differently? The simple answer is, traditions. For years, things have been done this way and we still do them the same way.

Here are some of the wedding traditions many brides and grooms follow throughout the world and where they came from.

  1. The white wedding dress

White is the color that symbolizes peace and purity and it is probably why most wedding gowns have been maintained that way. The white wedding dress is a tradition that was popularized and derived from Queen Victoria in her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840. In the earlier years before the mid-1800, brides were known to wear red gowns. The Queens's decision to go against the grain set a trend that has since been followed to date

Although a few brides do step outside the white gown, many opt for off white, cream and beige especially if they understand the significance of a white gown which represents a pure bride.

  1. The wedding veil

Originally, veils were worn by brides to preserve their modesty and protect them from misfortunes brought by evil and jealous spirits. In some cultures like ancient Greece and Rome, veils were worn to protect the brides from evil eyeing creatures. For some cultures however, the bridal veil dates back to arranged marriages. The veil would be used to conceal the identity of the bride and would only be lifted after the wedding ceremony has been completed. That means that the bride and the groom saw each other for the first time at their wedding. Today, the wedding veil is a fantastic accessory that signifies the bride’s merit.

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While today the wedding veil is a fantastic accessory that signifies the bride’s merit, it initially signified a whole lot different things (Shutterstock)
  1. The bouquet and garter toss

Formerly, tossing the bouquet was used as a method of distraction to allow the bride and groom to sneak out to have some alone time while the single ladies scrambled for the floral bunches. This was done because, in the olden days, the married couple had to wait to consummate their marriage until the honeymoon.

Today it is a standard tradition for most weddings to toss the bouquet for marriage prediction to the lady that catches it. The garter toss originated from England and France as a way to mollify the guests and calm the bride's mind. It was known that a piece of the bridal gown brought good luck and so people would normally try to acquire a piece of the bride's dress leaving the bride quite terrified after the wedding.

  1. The wedding cake

Wedding cakes date back as early as ancient Rome and they were considered a symbol of fertility and prosperity from the raw materials from which they were baked, which was wheat. The guests would crumble the cake over the bride's head for good luck. For luck absorption also, cake crumbles were thrown and picked around the bride’s feet. Thank God this doesn’t happen anymore.

  1. The best man

Traditionally, the best man together with the groomsmen were assigned the duty of kidnapping a non-cooperative bride or family of the bride. This was so when weddings were conducted as a business transaction rather than for love. The best man’s duty was to ensure that the bride doesn’t run away during the ceremony. Scary!

  1. The bridesmaids

The bridesmaids today wear dresses that are in contrast to the bride to make the bride stand out. Originally though, the bridesmaids wore similar dresses to the brides. This was a superstitious belief that was meant to outsmart and distract evil spirits that would have come to ruin the bride’s happiness.

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