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Where’d That Wedding Tradition Come From Anyway?

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Photo from Unsplash

Weddings are so steeped in superstitions and traditions that when you stop to think about some of them, you’d probably be unsure of why people even participate in some of them nowadays to begin with.

That can leave a modern bride stressed out over which ones she has to take part in, and which ones she can skip. The honest answer?

At The Groome Inn, we’ve seen some brides throwing superstition to the wind lately, either in favor of their own new traditions, or just because they don’t feel like following traditions that don’t apply to them. Others follow the traditional wedding superstitions down to the letter.

No matter what traditions you decide to follow or skip, we’re here for you. We want your day to be perfect and customized to your love.  So how do you decide which traditions you want to keep? Let’s take a little trip back through history to help you decide.

The tradition: The groom can’t see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony on their wedding day

The origin: This one doesn’t have anything to do with luck, but was for a much more practical reason. It dates back to arranged marriages, when the couple didn’t meet for the first time until they were at the altar. If the groom decided last minute that he didn’t like what he saw, he could just up and decide not to put a ring on it. This would bring shame to the bride’s family for generations to come. So they dressed the brides in veils to cover their faces, and it wasn’t until after the nuptials were complete that the veil was drawn back to reveal the face of the groom’s new wife.

We didn’t promise this history lesson would be romantic.

Today: We’ve found that many brides still choose not to see their groom until they’re on their way down the aisle, which certainly makes sense. When you’ve put so much thought into every detail of the wedding, it can be a build up of excitement to wait until your ceremony to see him waiting for you. This can also be a beautiful moment for the wedding guests to witness, as the emotions are running high.

But other brides are making the practical decision to cut this tradition and have a “first look” instead, which is often photographed, where they see each other dressed up for the first time in private. This can take the pressure off of making sure every last hair pin stays put (and that bottle of hairspray, especially down here in the south).

There’s another major practical reason for skipping this tradition as well: the bridal party can go ahead and take photos before the ceremony, which means they can partake in the cocktail hour or whatever they have planned for the guests immediately following the ceremony.

Wedding Tradition
Photo by Melissa Cattani

The tradition: Something old

The origin: This one comes from the Old English rhyme “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” We’ll get to the others in a minute, but let’s start at the beginning.

The Evil Eye is known in many cultures to be a spell of sorts, put on someone by a malicious glare. So feared was this Evil Eye, that charms were made specifically to ward off the gaze. But by carrying “something old” with her, the bride was able to ward off the Evil Eye, which was thought to cause infertility. It was also a way of showing community love to the couple, as they were meant to grow old together. Members of the community (especially family members) would often use this as a time to pass down heirloom jewelry to the bride to wear on her special day.

Today:  Modern brides who take part in this tradition are making it something all their own, and we love seeing the sentimental displays of affection between friends and family. From adding their sorority pin from college to their bouquets, to photos of their late family members in lockets, to handkerchiefs they were given as girls for being flower girls sewn into the bottom of their dresses, our brides are super creative! We’ve also noticed a major resurgence in having a piece of their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress added to their own—how sweet is that? Additionally, brides today are playing it a little more lose with these traditions, meaning that not all of them feel the need to personally wear the item. Some see our Inn as the perfect “Something old,” while others may set their reception dinners with old glass wear they’ve found at consignment shops, or an old bottle of wine to toast with.

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Photo by Danielle Flake Photography

The tradition: Something new

The origin: From the same rhyme as “Something old,” something new doesn’t carry any bad luck. Instead, it simply stands for the new chapter of the married couple’s life, and it’s pretty easy to check this one off the list.

Today: Modern brides who take part in this tradition don’t need to go out and buy anything new—they’ll be wearing a new dress, have new jewelry, and will be receiving a new ring by the end of the ceremony. We think that covers it.

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The tradition: Something borrowed

The origin: This one is a mixture of bringing good luck and warding off the Evil Eye (again?!) In the old days, the bride was to borrow a pair of undergarments from a woman with a happy marriage and healthy children to confuse the Evil Eye into thinking she was fertile. Don’t ask us how that worked; we’re just here for wedding History 101 with you! The borrowed items were also supposed to bring good luck to the bride and groom on their big day.

Today: Today, it’s much less about warding off the Evil Eye and much more about good luck and honoring your loved ones. Modern brides are borrowing jewelry and accessories from their loved ones (especially those who they’ve seen as having happy marriages) and are wearing it on their special day.

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Photo by Danielle Flake Photography

The tradition: Something Blue

The origin: The color blue represents love, purity and fidelity—three pillars of what many would deem a great and happy marriage. The blue was traditionally worn somewhere hidden—usually, it was the garter.

Today: We’ve seen so many fun ways of wearing or incorporating blue into our modern brides’ wedding days! Some go for blue shoes, while others carry blue flowers, or even go for a blue manicure! Some brides have had handmade flower crowns woven with blue flowers, or have had their bridesmaids dress in blue dresses, or their grooms wear blue bow ties. Others have relied on the décor to do the blue for them, or have gotten ready in a blue robe. It’s completely up to you how far—or how little—you do, if you decide to follow these traditions at all.

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The tradition: Bridesmaids all wearing the same dresses

The origin: Back in the day when arranged marriages were still the norm, the bride often had to travel to her groom’s village, where they would be wed. But looters along the way knew that the bride was an expensive commodity to the groom and the bride’s father, and would often ascend on bridal parties as they made their way in order to kidnap the bride for ransom. So the bride and all of her bridesmaids would dress identically (this was before white wedding dresses were a thing) in order to confuse the kidnappers.

Today: We absolutely love the current trend of letting bridesmaids choose from a bunch of styles or a complimentary color scheme that flatters them, while still allowing the bride to get her aesthetic just right!  Whether you choose to go with the same cut for all, or allow your bridesmaids a little freedom, the stunning backdrops of The Groome Inn will make your entire wedding party look amazing.

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The tradition: Being showered with rice after your ceremony

The origin: Back in the day, rice and grains were major symbols of prosperity and fertility. So throwing rice at the newlyweds was a gesture of love and showering them with good fortune.

Today: While some brides choose to carry out this tradition, we’ve found that most opt for the less painful (and easier to get out of your hair) flower petals, bubbles, confetti and sparklers for their wedding send-off.

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The tradition: Flower girls and ring bearers

The origin: As far as we can tell, having a flower girl walking in front of the bride can be traced back to ancient Rome, when bearing children who would carry on the groom’s last name was of utmost importance. So basically, more fertility stuff. Back then, she’d often sprinkle the bride’s walkway with wheat, which symbolized prosperity, and herbs to bless the couple’s fertility and to ward off those pesky evil spirits.

She also represented the bride’s transformation from being a girl to being a woman and a mother.

The ring bearer tradition is a little bit harder to find, but from our research, we’ve found that it could date back to ancient Egypt, when sacred jewels were carried on pillows.

Today: Many brides and grooms use the tradition as a way of including family member or those close to them in their wedding party. Whether that’s a godson, a little cousin, or a family friend, they’re certainly usually the cutest members of the bridal party, that’s for sure.  Oh, and most flower girls today usually sprinkle petals—not wheat– before the bride comes down the aisle.

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Photo by Amir Luna Photography

At The Groome Inn, we recognize that traditions and superstitions can be built into your dream wedding, and we appreciate that!  You’ve probably been dreaming of this day since you were a little girl, after all.

We also appreciate how some modern brides are taking charge and deciding how (and if) they even want to incorporate certain traditions into their ceremonies.

However you decide to craft your ceremony, we’ll be here for you, helping to make sure your wedding day lives up to all of your expectations.

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Photo by Danielle Flake Photography

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Photo by Melissa Cattani
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Photo by Melissa Cattani
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Photo by Amir Luna Photography
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