Prior to the 19th century, it was fashionable to wear a colorful outfit that could be adopted for later wear.
For American Indian, traditional bridal dresses were woven in symbolic colors: white for the east; blue for the south; yellow (orange) for the west; and black for the north.
About 1820 white became popular for formal occasions, Queen Victoria popularized white at her own wedding in 1840, and it became the official color for brides.
Today, in various cultures, a bride is "a Queen for a Day" and white is a symbol of a joyful celebration.
Veil creates a very romantic moment as the groom lifts it to kiss his bride looking into her face for the first time as her husband! Nellie Custis, Martha Washington’s daughter, made veils popular in the U.S.
In most cultures, the lifting of the veil is a symbol the consummation of the marriage, just as the two become one through their words spoken in wedding vows, so these words are a sign of the physical oneness that they will consummate later on.
In the Westernworld, St. Paul's words concerning how marriage symbolizes the union of Christ and His Church may underlie part of the tradition of veiling in the marriage ceremony.
In some cultures with arranged marriages, veils hid the bride's face until after the ceremony was over; tradition changed to include blusher after Jacob was tricked into marrying his beloved Rachel's sister, Leah, who was disguised under the full veiling.
Why the Bride Stands to the Groom's Left:
The groom placed his bride on his left to protect her, leaving his right hand free to wield a sword in case of sudden attack. The best man would stand on the groom's right as his right hand man.
Giving Away the Bride:
Young women were considered to be the property of their fathers. When it came time for the daughter to marry, the father was transferring ownership of his daughter to the groom.
Today, it is seen as a blessing and support of the marriage, and often both parents "give away the bride."
White Aisle Runner:
The white aisle runner represented walking on holy ground.
The wedding kiss:
The kiss a symbol of the newlywed's faith and love, respect and obedience to mutual benefits, also represents the couple sharing and joining their souls. Also, from Roman traditions, the kiss "seals" a couple's agreement to join in a life-long commitment.
There are legends of prospective bridegrooms kidnapping their brides from neighboring villages. His strongest friend or "best man" would come along to help in the capture.
Maid of Honor:Historically, a wedding only had a bride and a groom in the wedding party. The maid of honor became an integral part when more planning and preparation was put into a wedding. A bride would ask her closest friend for advice and assistance, which developed into the role of the maid of honor, who was traditionally an unmarried female and had the title of "chief attendant."
Ushers Or Groomsmen:
Back in the days of "marriage by capture," a young man often brought along some of his strong-armed friends to help fend offs his ladylove's brothers. These were the first ushers or groomsmen.
Bevy Of Bridesmaids:
In the old days of marriage by capture, a maiden was guarded by her family to prevent seizure, and in later centuries this little drama was enacted as a sort of game at country weddings. The bridegroom, gaily attired, coming for his bride, was confronted by a bevy of maidens all dressed exactly alike. His part of the play was to detect his true love, "forsaking all others," and bear her away to church.
The wedding tradition of a flower girl is symbolic in nature. The young girl, usually in a white dress, represents purity. She walks down the aisle in front of the bride, dropping flower petals, which symbolize fertility. The petals are usually red roses Red is a vibrant color which represents deep passion and love. Symbolically, the flower girl represents the loss of purity to passion, love and fertility.
This small attendant used to carry the bride's train in formal weddings at Westminster, but trains went out of fashion as skirts grew shorter, so the bride's little nephew was given the wedding ring to carry.
Groom not to see the Bride before the Ceremony:
Back when marriages were arranged, the marriage of an unattractive woman was often arranged with a prospective groom from another town without either of them having ever seen their prospective spouse. If seen ahead of time, an unattractive bride might be left at the altar!
Today, many brides prefer to stay in hiding in order in their wedding finery to surprise their waiting-at-the-altar grooms with their breath-taking beauty!
Bouquet & Boutonniere
Flowers symbolize fertility, purity, new life, and never ending love. In Victorian times each type of flower had a special meaning; daisies symbolize loyalty, violets modesty, and red rose true love.
The groom's boutonniere, worn on his lapel, usually matches one of the flowers in his bride's bouquet. This tradition goes back to medieval times when a knight wore the colors of his lady in tournaments.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue …and a Six Pence in Your Shoe:
The tradition of items that are "old", "new", "borrowed" and "blue" comes from Victorian England.
- Something old: continuity (family jewelry or family photo).
- Something new: optimism, hope and future happiness for the bride and groom (wedding gown or wedding ring).
- Something borrowed: happiness shared from happily married couple and symbolizes that friends and family will be there when help is needed.
- Something blue: fidelity, love, purity (the garter).
- Lucky sixpence in shoe: symbolizes prosperity.
The sixpence first became known as a lucky coin when introduced by Edward VI of England in 1551 and later became part of bridal wedding traditions in the Victorian era.