Wedding – Literally meant the purchase of a bride. The Anglo-Saxon word "Wedd" meant that the groom would vow to marry the woman and that the groom paid the bride's father for the privilege. This is the reason it is still customary for the father-of-the-bride to "give away" his daughter.
Bridal – Came from the "brew" the bride and groom drink. This was referred to as "bryd calu" or "bride's ale". This then evolved into the word "bridal".
White – Denoted purity and virginity. Wearing this color was thought to repel any offending evil spirits. Before the introduction of the white wedding gown, a woman just wore her best dress.
Wedding Veil – Related to the days when the groom would throw a blanket over the head of the woman of his choice and cart her off. A veil related to the arranged marriages when the bride’s face was covered until the groom was committed to the bride at the ceremony. It would then be too late for him to escape.
Carrying Flowers – by the bride has its roots in ancient times. Strong smelling herbs and spices were thought to ward off and drive away evil spirits, bad luck and ill health. The bouquet symbolized a woman in bloom.
The Bouquet – Is considered a sign of happiness. Also, throwing the bouquet was thought to be one way of distracting the crowd so that she could escape, if she changed her mind.
Tossing the Garter – Began in France when pieces of the bridal attire were considered lucky. The bride would toss the garter and whoever caught it could expect good luck. Here, in the United States, the groom traditionally removes the garter from the bride and tosses it to the unmarried men. The man who catches it is thought to be the next to marry. Many brides will wear two garters. One she keeps as a memento and the other to be tossed to all the unmarried men.
The Groom – Is supposed to wear a flower that comes from the bridal bouquet in his lapel buttonhole. This stems from the medieval tradition of a knight wearing his lady’s colors, as a declaration of his love.
Breaking of the Glass – Is common at Jewish weddings. After the ceremony, the groom stomps on a covered wineglass (or light bulb). The breaking of the glass relates to the lasting nature of the marriage vows and the breaking of the old and starting of the new.
Something Old, New, Borrowed & Blue – The full wording of this popular rhyme, dating back to Victorian times, is “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a six pence in your shoe.”
Something old signifies continuity and could be a piece of lace, jewelry or a grandmother’s handkerchief.
Something new signifies optimism and could be an article of clothing or the wedding ring.
Something borrowed relates to your future happiness, so it could be a bracelet, a pearl necklace or a handkerchief from a happily married relative or friend.
Something blue signifies modesty, fidelity and love. In early Biblical times, blue (now white) symbolized purity. Both the bride and groom usually wore a band of blue material around the bottom of their wedding attire, hence the tradition of “something blue.”
Originally, the sixpence was presented to the bride by her future husband as a token of his love. Often today, it is the bride’s father who places a coin in the bride’s shoe prior to leaving home for the ceremony.
Throwing of Rice – Is symbolic of wishing prosperity and good luck. In Asia, it signifies “may you always have a full pantry.” In Italy throwing confetti is customary, while in Greece they prefer to throw dates or almond candies. Tying of old shoes to the back of the couple’s vehicle comes from Tudor times. Guests would throw shoes and if they hit the carriage it meant good luck was bestowed upon them. Throwing old shoes after the bride is a sign that authority is being transferred from the bride’s father to her new husband. There are a few things to consider about throwing rice, confetti, flower petals, etc. at the ceremony and reception venues, so be sure to check first to see whether they allow this practice. It does create a mess and could be harmful to the local bird life.
Jumping the Broom – Is the most widely known African American wedding tradition. It was believed that whoever jumped over first or higher would be boss of the household. It signified their entrance into a new life and the jump from a single and carefree life to a more responsible domestic life with a partner.
Wedding Reel or Money Dance – The wedding reel is most often a tradition in the Midwestern states. Wedding guests form two lines and they pay a dollar or more to dance with the newlyweds. The couple then uses the money for their honeymoon.
Infare – In the 1880s, it was an American custom for the groom’s parents to host a feast on the day following the wedding. Today, this custom has evolved into a Sunday brunch intended to give out-of-town guests more opportunity to visit with family, new family and friends.
Carry the Bride Over Threshold – Generations ago it was considered ladylike for the new bride to be hesitant to “give herself” to her new husband. At the doorway to the bridal chamber, the husband would often carry his bride over the threshold to their new life.