Ever wonder where those familiar wedding rituals came from. Many customs are as old as love itself, dating back to Roman times or before, according to expert Carley Roney, editor of theknot.com, a wedding-planning web site. For example, the traditional white color of the wedding gown is popular because “in ancient Roman times, white was a color of celebration,” she said. “The tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other on their wedding day comes from the ancient tradition of the bride not showing her face to the groom at all before the wedding,” said Roney, author of “The Knot Guide to Wedding Vows and Traditions.” Here are the origins of other popular wedding traditions, according to Roney:
- Carrying the bride over the threshold — An ancient superstition held that evil spirits collected on the threshold of the new home waiting to invade the bride through the soles of her feet, a disaster that could be avoided if she entered in her husband’s arms.
- The bride’s veil — The centuries-old practice of hiding the bride’s face was intended to preserver her modesty. Romans covered the bride in yellow cloth.
- Groomsmen — These friends of the groom have been present at weddings since ancient times, when brides were often captured by force and the new husband needed allies to help him fend off her family.
- The bridal train — The long trailing train on gowns dates back to the Middle Ages when the higher the bride’s social standing, the longer the material she dragged down the aisle.
- Throwing rice — Grains were thought in ancient times to symbolize fertility, so scattering them over the bridal couple ensured they’d have many children.
- The wedding ring — Its circular shape is believed to symbolize endless love, Ancient Egyptians began the tradition of placing it on the third finger of the left hand because they believed that the vein in that finger ran directly to the heart.
- Tossing the bouquet — Centuries ago, wedding guests would tear at the bride’s flowers and clothes to share her happiness, so the bride tossed her bouquet to ensure she got away in one piece.
- Tossing the garter — The scramble for the bride’s garter dates back to a medieval tradition in which wedding guests invaded the bridal chamber to steal the bride’s stockings for good luck. To avoid this calamity, a groom tossed the garter to his friends.