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Wedding traditions

Incorporating wedding traditions into your ceremony is a great way to celebrate and recognise the historical importance of your marriage within a modern context. Many of the traditions associated with modern weddings can be found to have their roots in the customs and rituals of our ancestors.

Why does the bride stand on the left and the groom on the right?

This tradition dates back to the Middle Ages, when women were traded and sold for marriage. So why does the groom stand on the right side of the altar?  Well, your heart is located on the left so the bride stands “under his (groom's) heart”. This keeps the groom’s right hand (“fighting arm” or “sword arm”) free to defend his bride should an enemy try to steal her away at the last minute. If any man or attacker made it past the groomsmen at the altar, the groom would hold his bride with his left hand, while using his sword or weapon with his right hand against any oncoming attackers. Another explanation for this is that men and women used to be split up when they went to church, with the men sitting on the right side, and women sitting on the left. Because of this, it made sense for the men to stand on the right side of the altar, and the women on the left. In modern interpretations, it is said that when a man and woman join hands at the altar, it symbolises their unity and strength.  It also shows their combined resources they bring to the marriage. Another idea is that when newlyweds turn and face their friends and family at the end of the ceremony, the bride is standing to the groom’s right, symbolizing her spot as his “right hand” throughout the rest of their lives together. Whether you choose the right side or not, we thought you’d like to learn a few reasons for this tradition.

Weddings rings

These are thought of as symbolising eternal love due to their having no beginning or end.

Why the third finger on the left hand?

The story of why the wedding ring is worn on the left hand can be traced back to ancient times. In that era, the Romans believed that the vein in the ring finger (the fourth finger) on the left hand ran directly to one's heart. Because of this belief, they called that vein the "vena amoris" or vein of love. Naturally, to solidify a union based on love, they'd place the ring on that finger that housed the vein of love to signify the romance the newly married couple shares.

Throwing the bouquet

In days gone by women would rip pieces of the bride’s dress and flowers in order to obtain good luck. To get away, the bride would toss her bouquet and run away. Today the bouquet is tossed to single women with the belief that whoever catches it will be the next to marry.

Veil of protection

Everyone loves to accessorise on their wedding day and you’ve probably always thought a veil is the ultimate wedding accessory, not a shield from evil spirits like it was once considered.
Way back before your biggest worry was someone Instagramming your dress before the evening guests arrive, brides had to stress about being attacked by evil spirits! This adds a new meaning to wedding stress.

Something old

Back in the day, including “something old” was a sure way to ward off the Evil Eye and protect any future children the couple might have (the Evil Eye was thought to cause infertility in the bride - yikes)! But more generally, and on a more lighthearted note, “something old” represents continuity, and contemporary couples use this as a chance to wear a sentimental piece of jewellery or item of clothing belonging to an older relative. Often the parents of the bride will give her an heirloom before the ceremony.

Something new

This one’s pretty straightforward: “Something new” offers optimism for the future. The couple is about to enter into a new chapter in life, so walking into marriage with “something new” makes total sense. Don’t worry about searching far and wide for “something new”—it can truly be anything, including your wedding dress, veil, jewellery and shoes. Couples often tick this box before they even learn this rhyme exists. It’s up to you whether your “something new” is a gift from someone else or the result of a treat yourself moment.

Something borrowed

Incorporating “something borrowed” brings the couple good luck. By borrowing something from a happily married friend or relative, the bride or couple ensures a little of their good fortune rubs off on them. The old-fashioned superstition urged the bride to borrow the undergarments of a female friend or relative with a happy marriage and healthy kids (again with a reference to fertility). But, of course, today it’s all about honouring a loved one or holding onto something of sentimental value - like your grandmother’s wedding hair comb or your mother’s diamond earrings - for a touch of good luck as you say your “I dos.”

Something blue

While wearing or carrying “something blue” was also meant to deflect that pesky Evil Eye, the colour blue stands for love, purity and fidelity - three key qualities for a solid marriage. The traditional “something blue” was often a blue garter worn beneath the bride’s white dress. But you don’t have to wear “something blue” to ward off wicked spirits: Sprinkle blue clematis into the bouquet, pick out a gorgeous pair of blue pumps, find a powder-blue bow tie or use blue ribbon to tie your invitation suites together—just because you feel like it.

A silver sixpence in your shoe

Following on from something old, new, borrowed and blue is a silver sixpence in your shoe.
The sweet touch is meant to bring the happy couple wealth and happiness throughout their married life.
It was traditionally a sign that the bride’s father wished for the couple to have good fortune and prosperity.

Over the threshold

Evil spirits played a big part in shaping our wedding traditions and superstitions.
Traditionally a bride was carried over the threshold of the newlywed’s house or accommodation as the soles of her feet were known to be at the greatest risk of evil.
You’ll be happy to just kick off your shoes after dancing the night away!

Throwing confetti

The tradition of throwing wedding confetti is said to have originated during the middle ages in Northern Italy and has certainly been around in the UK since Pagan times. Before paper confetti, there were flowers, petals, grains or rice thrown at the happy couple, to bestow prosperity and fertility. Today confetti comes in a myriad of shapes, colours and styles for throwing up into the air in celebration, throwing onto the aisle by flower girls for the entrance of the bride, and for decoration at the reception. Wedding confetti also now comes in the form of wooden cut-outs (which are not for throwing!) and some even feature personalised labels, words or images of the bride and groom.