Marriage Traditions

Bachelor Party: A stag night, at which only males were allowed, was originally held to ward off evil spirits before the wedding. Around the time of Charles II hen nights were thought to have been introduced to allow the bride's friends and family to examine the trosseau and "bottom drawer". These days both seem to involve a last celebration of single status and appear to involve anything from go-karting to a week away in the sun!

Ask for the Bride's hand: Years ago women were deemed to belong to their father. When she married it was therefore her father who "gave her away" along with her property to the groom - to whom she then belonged! In some cases the groom was also given a pair of the bride's old shoes to indicate that it was now his responsibility to keep the bride in shoe leather.

Best Man:The groom used to kidnap his bride and hold her on his left arm, so that his sword arm was free to fight off any other suitors. This is why the groom normally stands on the right of the bride during the wedding ceremony. If the groom needed help to kidnap his bride he would ask his best friend to be his "best man".

Sixpence: A bride may be given a silver sixpence and asked to place it in her shoe on the wedding day. Though this may sound a very uncomfortable way to walk around on the day the giver is hoping that it will bring you a life of fortune so it may turn out to be a small price to pay if it works!

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: Nearly every couple is aware of the old rhyme about something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue but what does it all signify? The "something old" is to show the durability of marriage and the continuity of your old life into the new married one. The "something" new symbolises the start of building your new life together as a married couple. The "something borrowed" item is the one which you may wish to choose most carefully as it should be from a happily married woman whose virtues you most wish for, to assist in ensuring marital bliss. The "something blue" is used to promise love, fidelity and purity.

Wedding Ring: The custom of wearing a wedding ring stems from ancient times when a bride might have worn a ring made of hemp or rushes, which would have been frequently replaced. The ancient Egyptians believed that the circular shape of the ring was a sign of undying, never ending love, a love without beginning or end. Some of the early engagement rings were also used as a wedding ring to show the "sale" of the woman from her father to the groom, they were usually made of gold as a sign of the groom's worth. The perfect finger for the wedding ring to be worn on is believed to be the third finger of the left hand, as it was traditionally thought in ancient greeks that this contained a vein that went straight to the heart -vein amoris.

White Wedding Dress: Queen Victoria wore white for her wedding and started the fashion for wearing white, supposedly to symbolise the bride's virginity. The bridesmaids were traditionally dressed as beautifully as the bride to confuse any evil spirits who may have been waiting to snatch the bride. The Roman custom of the bride wearing a veil was also to disguise the bride from the evil spirits and to keep her safe. Victorian brides wore a veil to symbolise modesty, respect and virginity. Tradition also dictates that the bride should not make her own wedding dress, she should not try on the complete outfit until the day and that she should not be seen by the groom in her dress before arriving at the ceremony.

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