Wedding Superstitions & Traditions Explained

Some wedding traditions and superstitions are so ingrained in our culture that we don’t even think to question them. But do you know why a bride tosses the bouquet over her head? For what possible reason would a couple save a layer of cake in their freezer for a year? And why do brides go to such lengths to keep their grooms from seeing their dresses before it’s time to walk down the aisle? 

Western weddings used to be business transactions between two families; now, most of us would be hard-pressed not to marry for that one, most sacred, enigmatic, inexplicable reason: love. We trust that our beloved won’t balk on the wedding day, so deciding whether or not to see each other before the wedding is truly a matter of personal choice based on the mood-scape you hope to orchestrate.

For many modern couples who perhaps already live together and argue on the reg about picking up dirty socks off the bedroom floor, choosing not to see each other before the wedding can make the day feel more special. 

There’s already a lot of pressure for your wedding day – to have perfect weather, to not mess up your makeup from crying, to not drop the rings, etc. But who knew that there were actual superstitions behind these possible occurrences that could affect the success of your marriage? Not helping, right? If you’re superstitious, be on the lookout for these signs of good and bad luck!

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Tradition

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This tradition goes back to a time when arranged marriages were the norm. Families arranged marriages, and only after everything was agreed would the lucky couple get to meet each other. However, this brought with it some risks, and it was not uncommon for some men to back out at the last minute after seeing the woman they were to spend their lives with.

So how to deal with this issue? Perhaps consult the proposed couple on whether they found each other attractive? Of course not, that would make far too much sense! Instead, the couples were often forbidden from meeting each other until the day of their wedding at their ceremony. It’s rather difficult to run out of your own wedding when everyone is already there!

Although the tradition of arranged marriages has largely fallen by the wayside, the superstition that seeing the bride in her dress before the big day has lived on.

Should your Groom see Your Wedding Dress?

For some couples, seeing each other before the ceremony has become the new favourite, taking away their nerves, giving them a private moment together, and allowing for some beautiful first look photos to be taken.

So we’ve rounded up some arguments for and against letting your groom see your wedding dress so you can decide what is right for you.

Keep it Secret

  • It’s bad luck even to see each other before the wedding, let alone for him to see your wedding dress, too!
  • You want it to be a surprise for everyone, including him, so you can fully enjoy your big moment.
  • As you step down the aisle, emotions will be high, so when he sees you, his beautiful bride, for the first time it’ll be ten times more amazing.
  • He loves you for you, so you know he’ll love whatever dress you choose.

Let him see

  • You don’t have to show him ages in advance, and it can still be a surprise for your wedding day. Still, by seeing each other in the morning before the ceremony, you can reassure each other and whisk away any wedding nerves, letting you enjoy the moment fully when the time comes.
  • These days, many photographers give you the option of first-look photos (add them to this list of your essential photos, so your photographer knows what to get). This way, you won’t be leaving it to chance to capture your groom’s expression when he sees you – they’ll do that for you.
  • Depending on how traditional you intend to go, your bridesmaids may be dressed the same. In the old days, the tradition was to dress your bridesmaids the same as the bride, in white. This was to confuse evil spirits.
  • If you had a say in his suit choice, it’s only fair that he should get to give your dress choice the once over too, right?

Seeing Each Other Before The Wedding

You’ve probably heard that it’s bad luck to see your fiancé on the wedding day before your ceremony. The reason is that, back when marriages were arranged, the bride and groom weren’t allowed to see or meet each other at all until they were at the altar. Parents of the bride feared that, if the couple met each other before marrying, the groom wouldn’t find the bride attractive and would decide to call off the wedding. They were so careful that part of the reason why the bride wore a veil down the aisle was to prevent the groom from knowing what she looked like until the very last second – when it’s too late to back out! Flattering, huh?!

A superstition that traces its roots to arranged marriages, where people believed that if the couple saw each other before the wedding, they could have second thoughts about the marriage and change their minds. We see a lot of couples doing “first looks” before the wedding and have not heard of any bad outcomes. I think it is safe to put this superstition to rest.

Today, this superstition has phased out as we see more and more couples choosing to do a “first look” before the nuptials. But not everyone! Many couples still choose to remain unseen before the ceremony in order to save that special moment of seeing each other for the actual wedding. Either way, superstition: debunked!

The Veil 

We think a veil is the perfect finishing touch to complete the bridal look, but it is actually a custom that goes back to Roman and Greek times. The bride would wear a veil to ward off the evil spirits who were jealous of her happiness. There is always one in the crowd, so why not wear one just in case!

Struggling to find your perfect gown? Check out our extensive list of Wedding Dress Shops in Melbourne.

“And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe”

You’ve heard “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” but did you realize this old rhyme is supposed to finish with “and a silver sixpence in her shoe”? The first four in the rhyme are symbols to represent a happy marriage, a new union, a special token of love, and fidelity. However, the last line relates back to the belief that keeping a penny in one of the bride’s shoes is a token of good luck that will promise a life of good fortune. Sounds tedious to walk around all day with something in your shoe, but well worth it if you believe in luck!

I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying

It’s sentimental to tear up on your wedding day, but don’t be afraid to hold back the Kim-K tears! Supposedly, it’s good luck for the bride to cry on her wedding day as a crying bride means that she has shed all the tears she has and will not have any to shed during her marriage. If you plan on following through with this one, be sure to wear some waterproof mascara!

“It’s Like Rain Your Wedding Day”

While most brides might think that having rain on the day of their wedding is a total bummer, a lot of people seem to believe that this is actually a good thing! It may seem that that’s all just to make the bride feel better about the situation, but in some cultures, wedding-day rain represents fertility, cleansing of the past, and unity! However, some say that the rain actually symbolizes the number of tears that the bride will cry during her marriage.

As long as you have contingency plans for rain, there is no need to panic! Some cultures believe that rain on your wedding day brings fertility and cleansing.

This one’s a tossup. But we say, hey, your wedding is one of the most important and happiest days of your life! Let it rain like your love and make the best of it!

Check out our post on Tips for Newly Engaged Couples.

Saturdays

According to English folklore, the unluckiest day of the week to get married is Saturday. Sounds good to me because Saturday is usually the most expensive day to rent a wedding venue.

Ringing of the Bells

In a traditional Irish wedding ceremony, bells are rung to keep evil spirits away and to make sure that the lovely couple has a harmonious family life together. Some brides will even carry a bell in their bridal bouquet as a reminder of their sacred vows. This is also why bells are a common gift to give a bride and groom.

Don’t Cross Paths With…

Don’t worry about the black cat; stay away from the nuns and monks! It is said that if a bride crosses path with a monk or a nun on her wedding day, she will be cursed with a life of infertility and poverty.

Here Trips The Bride

It’s a classic gesture for the groom to carry his bride into their home/hotel room after the wedding. But what we thought was just romance and chivalry, is actually prevention of bad luck! The story has it that, if a bride trips over the threshold into their new home, it will bring bad luck upon the marriage. Therefore, the groom has been trusted to carry the bride (and definitely not trip) to avoid this mishap.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider Crawled Up The Wedding Dress?

It’s been said that finding a spider on your wedding dress is good luck. We’re not sure why this was believed back in old English folklore, but good luck or not, something tells us most brides would be okay with skipping out on this one!

Till Death do Us part

Dropping the rings during the ceremony means that the marriage is doomed. And you’ll want to hold onto those suckers because whoever is the one who drops them will be the one to die first! Because that’s totally something, you want to think about on your wedding day.

Pass on the garter for luck

The superstition of giving away the garter, now usually done by tossing it, comes from France; they say that it brings good luck to whoever receives it. This is a fun tradition, whereby the groom goes under the bride’s dress to retrieve the garter then tosses it to the assembled single men. If you’re the shy type, you can have all the groomsmen surround you with their backs to you, in order to have some privacy while the garter is removed.

The bouquet toss to predict the next bride

One of the most entrenched superstitions is the tossing of the bride’s bouquet to the single ladies. The lucky girl who catches it will supposedly be next to get married. This tradition got its start in medieval times: it was considered good luck for guests to get a piece of the wedding dress, so they would go after the bride trying to rip bits of it off. Brides started tossing the bouquet to distract everyone and make a clean getaway.

Have him carry you over the threshold

Yes, you probably already live together, but letting your new husband carry you into your home is a fun and romantic tradition. You see, once upon a time, going into your new home meant losing your virginity, and it was seen as scandalous if you ran eagerly through the door. Another belief was that it was bad luck if the bride tripped when crossing the threshold into the new home since the entrance was thought to be where evil spirits lurked. So just have him carry you inside, and you’ll be fine.

Today, we treat weddings like science. The second that sparkly diamond comes in for a landing on the ring finger, we pull the wedding guides off the shelf, dust off our Pinterest inspiration-boards-in-waiting, and create a series of Russian nesting doll-esque Excel spreadsheets and to-do lists. And while some of those checklist items are practical and necessary (like answering the question: “Will there be food, and if so, what?”)Other elements of wedding planning are not based on the scientific method, but are rather deeply rooted in superstitious, mythical, and sometimes offensive historical customs.

One such tradition that we take for granted today is the superstition that it is bad luck to see the bride on the wedding day. Now, we must ask ourselves: but why would it be bad luck to see the bride? Picture this: You’re an Elizabethan-era father who scraped together enough goats and cows to make a compelling dowry for your teenage daughter, and you’re this close to getting her married to the fellow down the street. You’ve been negotiating with his family for months, and you’ve nearly got it in the bag. The last thing you would want is for the groom-to-be to catch a glimpse of your daughter the morning of the wedding and realize that—bless her heart—she’s a homely thing. Why, if he saw her before the very second she arrived at the altar, he might run, and now wouldn’t that be bad luck? Better to be safe than sorry—you have your daughter don a veil, too. Now there’s no way he can make a quick getaway as she treks down the aisle. Phew!

Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong. Because when your partner sees you on your wedding day, the only direction they’ll be running is to the altar.

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