Wedding Traditions – 7 Common Wedding Customs Explained

Traditions and customs, modern weddings have tons of ’em: Flowers, rice, something old, something blue, you know the drill. Have you ever thought about how all these wedding traditions originated or what they actually mean? Here’s the meaning behind some of the most popular wedding customs and rituals.

1. Wedding Tradition: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Lucky Sixpence in Her Shoe

This popular rhyme originated in the Victorian area. Something Old – represents the link to the bride’s old life and her family. Something New – signifies the couple’s new life together as well as their hope for the future. Something Borrowed – originates from the idea that borrowing something from a happily married woman will impart similar happiness to the new bride. Something Blue – represents fidelity, love, and purity. Lucky Sixpence in her Shoe – signifies wealth, both financial wealth and a wealth of happiness.

2. Wedding Tradition – Bride and Groom Not Seeing Each Other Before the Ceremony

This tradition stems from the early days of arranged marriages – when the bride and groom’s first meeting occurred at the wedding. The two were kept from seeing each other to prevent the groom from bolting should he not like the look of his new bride.

3. Wedding Tradition – Bridal Bouquet

The first bridal bouquet did not consist of wedding flowers. Instead, wedding bouquets were originally made of strong herbs such as thyme and garlic meant to ward off evil spirits.

4. Wedding Tradition – Throwing Rice

As rice is considered a “life giving” seed, it is thought that by throwing it on the couple they will be bestowed with fertility and have many children.

5. Wedding Tradition – Bridal Shower

Tradition states that the first bridal shower was given to a poor couple in Holland who was denied the bridal dowry because of the groom’s lowly miller status. The miller’s friends gathered to “shower” the bride with items she’d need to make a new home and enter into marriage.

6. Wedding Tradition – Getaway Car – Cans Tied To The Bumper

One wedding tradition of the Middle Ages was to ward off evil spirits by banging pots and making a lot of noise after the ceremony. This custom has been replaced by tying tin cans to the bumper of the car transporting the bride and groom.

7. Wedding Tradition – Garter Toss

Garter-throwing derives from an English ritual called “flinging the stocking.” Guests would playfully invade the bridal chamber and grab the bride’s stockings, and then they took turns sitting at the foot of the bed flinging the stockings over the heads of the couple. Whoever’s stocking landed on the bride’s or the groom’s nose would be the next to wed.

Looking for more? Learn the meaning behind even more wedding traditions here.

Brazilian Wedding Traditions

Brazilian Weddings are rich in tradition and culture. They are often very expensive and the bride’s parents usually pay for the wedding, but that is becoming less common because of the overall cost. Brazil is a Christian nation and, therefore, holds several customs similar to other Christian regions; however, there are a few traditions that are different.

Wedding Rings

Unlike in the US, engagement rings are not that important and instead the couple exchange wedding rings. The rings are placed on the right hand and then are switched to the left hand during the wedding ceremony. It is customary for the bride and groom to write each other names on their ring. It is considered bad luck to drop the ring during the ring exchange and is told that the marriage would not last if it was to happen.

Kitchen Shower

Unlike a typical wedding shower that is done in other countries, in Brazil they throw what is called a Kitchen Shower. It used to be a small gathering of close friends of the bride so that they may catch up and give gifts that the bride will use for her kitchen. However, the gatherings have been getting bigger and not even men are able to join.

Wedding Party

A Brazilian bride may wear whatever color dress she wants, but white is a tradition. However, it is custom to wear golden shoes. It is considered bad luck for the bridesmaids to match; therefore no two people are able to wear the same color. Unlike in the US and other European countries that pick out their grooms-men months in advance, in Brazil, the groom could wait up to the last hour before picking his. The wedding party is often three couples who are very close to the bride and groom, they however do not have to be in a relationship together.

Before the Ceremony

It is a tradition that the day before the wedding the Brazilian bride and her family go to a spa to take a break. There they can get a message, as well as do their hair, hair and make-up before the big day. However, when the wedding actually is there, it is a tradition for the bride to be at least 10 minutes late, for it is considered it good luck. There are times where the groom and the rest of the guests have to wait a few hours before the bride finally shows for her big day.

Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony is done like most Christian weddings. However, some differences are that the bride has two flower girls accompanying her, one that distributes the flowers and the other one who is more like a ring bearer. Then the bride and groom will recite their vows and then switch their rings from their right hand to their left hand to symbolize the change from betrothed to marry. Most wedding ceremonies can last up to an hour, but at other times it could last even longer.

Wedding Reception

The wedding reception is a huge party that the guest and newly-wed couple drinks, dance, and give speeches. One tradition is for the couple to exchange presents to their parents. Often the bride will take off her shoes and place them in the middle of the dance floor. As the guest dance around, they will drop money into the shoes to help support the newlywed’s financial future. Instead of a wedding favor, it is custom to give a Brazilian sweet, bem casado (meaning “well married”), to their guest as they leave.

If you are interested in knowing more about Mexican wedding traditions

Understanding the Various Jewish Wedding Traditions

Jewish wedding traditions are deep with symbolism. Everything from what is worn to the actions done earlier in the week has deep meaning. Marriage is looked upon as part of the circle of life and is holy. Jewish marriage and the various Jewish wedding traditions are something everyone looks forward to.

For an entire week leading up to the wedding it is customary that the groom and the bride do not see each other. But on the Sabbath of the week of the wedding the bride and groom have the honor of reciting the blessing over the Torah reading. This is called the Auf Ruf. When a couple or family do not belong to a temple, it can be arranged in the home of the family as long as a Minyan of 10 over the age of 13 years of age in order for Shabbat service with a Torah reading to take place. Always good to check with the Rabbi there is a Torah.

On the wedding day before the ceremony the bride is veiled. The veil is in remembrance that when Jacob was to be wed to Rachel, but wed Leah for she was wearing a not-see-through veil over her face. The veil symbolizes modesty and the groom often veils the bride himself before the ceremony making sure it is indeed his bride, true love and partner in marriage.

The normal Jewish wedding lasts 20 to 30 minutes. Traditionally, the bride would circle the groom before 2 blessings were recited over a cup of wine. Today, however, it’s customary for the groom to also circle his bride. This symbolizes the fact that both have equal footing in the marriage and that they are central now to each other’s lives. Next, the blessings are recited and the blessings are to remind the bride and groom about the commandments of marriage.

After the blessings are recited the groom and bride puts the ring on each other’s index finger, above the knuckle, on the right hand. The ring is to be a plain band with no engravings, decorations or gems…this is to symbolize that there is no beginning and no end. When the ring is placed upon each of their fingers, they each recite the traditional Jewish Wedding Vows “Haray At” for the Groom and “Haray Atah” for the Bride.

After the rings exchanged, the Ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract and symbolizes the commitment to one another, as well their love for one another. The bride and groom stand under the Chuppah, a canopy with four poles that symbolizes their home that will now be built through both of their efforts. The Chuppah is so important that the wedding ceremony is often called the ceremony ‘Under the Chuppah.’

As part of Jewish wedding traditions, the groom and bride hear the seven blessings chanted both in Hebrew and English to further fulfil the Jewish wedding traditions. These 7 blessings are called the Sheva Berachot. Each blessing begins in a similar manner, saying that the couple is blessed by God:

1. Blessed by God who has created everything in his glory
2. Blessed by God who has created man and woman
3. Blessed by God who has created man in the image of God
4. Blessed by God who makes Zion rejoice with the children
5. Blessed by God who brings happiness to the bride and groom
6. Blessed by God who has made both joy and gladness and who brings gladness to the bride and groom
7. Blessed by God who is the creator of the fruit of wine

After the 7 prayers are recited the bride and groom then drink the wine sharing one cup. After a few more blessings, being pronounced as husband and wife as per Civil Marriage Laws, the groom gets his big moment to break the glass on the floor. The breaking of the glass symbolizes that the temple was destroyed. The breaking glass also represents that relationships are fragile, can be difficult to repair if damaged and that it’s both the bride and groom’s responsibility to care for it.

Following this the couple retires to a private room for a short period that symbolizes the new union in their home together. Then there is a festive meal along with the reception to join their guests for extended celebration.

With Jewish wedding traditions, there is traditionally music and festive dancing. During the celebration and reception a common Jewish wedding tradition is the wedding dance. This is a circle dance called the Hora. Here the guests get into a circle and dance around the bride and groom. The bride and groom are lifted up in chairs to symbolize trust and raised to symbolise they are special on their wedding day. For parents that celebrate their last child in marriage, they too are honoured in a circle dance and crowned with a ring of flowers. A joy for the bride and groom, a joy for the parents to have the blessing of their children married.

Jewish weddings traditions are full of symbolism and are cause for happy celebration. It is thought that once married the bride and groom are complete and that man and woman belong together.