As a nation, we are keen to follow traditions. A prime example of this is with a British wedding. Weddings are steeped in tradition, with many customs having been around for years. As a couple, planning your wedding is an exciting time and many of us are keen to add traditional aspects, from a tiered wedding cake to a white bridal dress.
We may have heard of these traditions, but do we know the history behind them? Read on to explore the traditions and superstitions associated with a British wedding.
Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue
You’ve heard the rhyme, but do you know where it originated from. It dates back to a 19th-century rhyme that described the items a bride should have on her wedding day to bring good luck. It went: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.”
Although the exact meaning for each item is unknown, there are several possible and plausible theories, including:
- Something old – representing a tie to the past and to keep you safe
- Something new – a new gift presented to you will offer optimism and hope for the future
- Something borrowed – a happily married couple should provide you with something borrowed as good luck for you as a couple
- Something blue – wearing something blue is said to ward off the evil eye, also providing purity, fidelity and love
- The sixpence in the shoe – was intended to bring prosperity to the couple
Wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger
Whether you opted for custom-made wedding bands or cheaper discounted jewellery, wearing your ring on the fourth finger is where the tradition lies. It was believed the fourth finger had a vein that ran directly to the heart, aptly named by early Romans the ‘vein of love’
It was deemed the perfect place to wear a wedding ring, with the notion that the rings brought the couples closer together.
The stag and hen party
Everyone loves to get involved with a stag or hen do, which marks the last great party before the stag or hen becomes a newlywed.
Stag dos can be traced back to ancient Greece, where the military comrades of Spartan soldiers would hold a celebration for the man the night before his wedding. Hen dos are a more recent addition, with the term being traced back to the 1800s. However, this was used to describe a gathering of women, with no wedding context. Hen do was first used to describe a pre-wedding party for women by The Times newspaper in 1976.
Throwing the bouquet
This is another tradition that dates back a few hundred years. It was seen as good luck to touch a bride on her wedding day, in the hope that some of their good luck would be passed on. This evolved, slightly barbarically, into ripping some of the bride’s dress, veil or flowers off for yourself.
To avoid this and escape, brides took to throwing their bouquets over their shoulders into the crowd and making a quick exit. With luck being passed over in the bouquet, it is still said that the one who catches it will soon be married.
From parties to clothing, these traditions are followed at many weddings up and down the country. Next time you attend a wedding look out for the different traditions and superstitions.