The engagement ring, walking the bride down the aisle, the exchanging of vows, the shoving of cake in your partner’s face—your wedding day will be filled with the fun traditions and meaningful rituals of your culture and heritage! Planning a wedding is essentially the process of choosing which of these traditions you’d like to include, how you want them executed, and the new ones you want to create.
When you imagine an American wedding, there are probably a few quintessential images that come to mind. Have you ever wondered how and where they started though? Before you start your wedding planning, get to know the history behind some of the most popular and widespread wedding staples!
The White Dress
As a future bride, you’ll spend weeks searching for the perfect dress—the most timeless detail of your wedding. But did you know there was a time when, instead of trying on different shades of ivory, pearl, frost, and other variations of white, women simply pulled their best outfit from the closet?
Brides would wear their most elegant dress and accessorize with layers of fur, silk, and velvet to demonstrate their wealth (and worth) to her groom. It was Great Britain’s Queen Victoria who popularized the white wedding dress. She wore a white lace gown for her betrothal to Prince Albert in 1840, and the rest is history.
Early bridesmaids received the honor of not only buying a dress they could only wear once, but also protecting the bride from evil spirits! That’s right—the tradition of a bridal party is rooted in the superstition that ill-willed spirits and jealous ex-lovers would attempt to spoil the bride’s happiness on her special day.
Each bridesmaid wore a dress similar to the bride, to confuse and distract these bitter entities. They were prepared to take the brunt of curses and thrown rocks intended for the bride. Talk about true friendship!
Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue
We’ve all seen brides in the movies scramble to find their something borrowed or blue on their wedding day. Why is this melodic combination so important though?
Historically, something old would usually be a family heirloom of some sort (hairclip, shoes, jewelry) to ward off evil and keep the bride connected with her family and past. Something new, often the wedding dress, symbolizes optimism going into the marriage and hope for the future.
Something borrowed would traditionally come from a woman already in a successful marriage, with the intention that some of her good fortune would be brought to the new marriage. The something blue represents purity, loyalty, and love.
Giving Away the Bride
It may be true that the ritual of the father walking his daughter down the aisle and “giving her away” began in a time of appalling gender inequality, but it has since evolved into a beautiful symbolic gesture in many cultures! Women were once viewed as property, to be owned and exchanged by their male counterparts. A father would give his daughter to the groom as a sort of currency for paying off debt, a peace offering, or to “purchase” a higher social standing for the family.
Today the tradition is viewed more as someone accompanying a bride into a new way and chapter of life. More and more often we see the mother, another special family member, or both parents walk their daughter down the aisle.
When it comes to choosing the time-honored rituals and new, creative traditions for your wedding ceremony, there’s no better person to guide you than your officiant! At Casual Elegance, Pastor Ed has the experience and easygoing personality to lead weddings of all different styles.
You’ll find that the combination of warmth and expertise in our approach makes your wedding planning process smooth, reassuring, and efficient. Contact us today to start planning a ceremony that seamlessly blends creativity and tradition for an unforgettable celebration!