While many modern brides still wear white and throw their bouquet at the reception, few know the reasons behind these traditions. Even fewer follow the wedding traditions of their mothers and grandmothers, so here are the origins of some well known wedding traditions so you can decide for yourself whether you want to keep to tradition or start your own.
Many brides know that wearing white is a sign of purity on their wedding day (this is why many opt for ivory, cream or off white). However, wearing white is a tradition which only evolved in the Victorian era. When Queen Victoria married her cousin Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840, she broke with tradition at the time and wore a white wedding dress. While brides had previously wed in a variety of colours, white was set as the colour of wedding dresses. White also embodies the characteristics of purity, girlhood innocence and an unsullied heart which the bride is giving over to her groom.
One of the most exciting parts of a wedding reception for single guests is the throwing of the bouquet and garter. The bridal bouquet first originated as a bunch of herbs worn in the bride's hair to ward off evil spirits. In Victorian times, each flower in the bride's bouquet represented a message as each flower had its own special meaning. In the 14th century, securing a piece of the bride's clothing was said to be good luck, as a result, the bride was treated roughly as guests tried to tear her dress. As an alternative, brides began to throw personal items to the crowd. Today, the bride tosses her bouquet and the groom removes the garter and tosses that. The single man who catches the garter then puts it on the leg of the single woman who caught the bouquet and they are said to be the next to marry (not necessarily each other).
The tossing of the garter began when silk stockings were commonly worn and a garter was necessary. The tradition at the time was to steal the garter as it was considered good luck for the young man who was successful. However to avoid embarrassing the bride, the tradition evolved to the groom removing the garter and throwing it to the guests.
These are just some examples of the origins of the wedding traditions we accept at modern weddings. Some of their origins are obscure, and some will make you glad to carry on the tradition.