There are many intriguing traditions and superstitions involved in weddings, which have often existed for many years and which vary around the world. These take place before, during and after the wedding ceremony itself.
Today we’re taking a look at some of those that are popular in the UK — from getting down on one knee to pop the question, to the honeymoon after the wedding.
This article follows on from our 5 British wedding traditions explained blog post and is the second in the wedding tradition series.
Getting down on one knee
Most people will get down on one knee to propose because that is the classic method that features in many a movie. We all know that this is a common thing to do, but not many people know why.
Well, this tradition is said to have come about through religion. In biblical times, Christian ceremonies would often involve kneeling, which was seen as a sign of respect and loyalty.
In medieval times, knights would often drop to one knee in front of their lords, which was, again, an indication of great respect.
From these origins, getting down on one knee to pop the question became a tradition that has continued until the modern-day. Nowadays, it is seen to mean a similar thing.
Something old, something new
Many of us dutifully follow the rhyme “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” on our wedding days, without having a clue as to its origins!
Having developed into a superstition, many believe that not to follow the rules of the rhyme is to bring bad luck to your special day.
The rhyme is Victorian. Something old refers to something linked to the bride’s family. This is often a piece of family jewellery.
Something new often refers to the bride’s dress or shoes and represents the new chapter of her life. It is also said to guarantee good fortune.
Something borrowed could be anything given to the bride by a friend or family member to wear on the big day, whether a brooch or a handkerchief. This is said to remind the bride of the support group she has around her.
Something blue represents faithfulness and came about from the colour blue, which was, at the time, linked to purity. Blue garters are a popular choice for fulfilling this part of the rhyme.
Most couples give their wedding guests a favour each, as a small token of thanks for attending, and a souvenir of the day.
A very traditional option for this is a small bag of sugared almonds — five sugared almonds, to be precise — one to symbolise the blessing of health, one for wealth, another for fertility, one for happiness and, finally, one to represent a long life.
However, modern couples are eschewing the almond tradition and instead choosing flower seeds, chocolates, homebaked treats, and so on. Very few couples skip the favours altogether, though.
The concept of the wedding favour originated in the 16th-century with French aristocracy who would present guests with bejewelled boxes of sugared almonds as a thank you. At the time, it was believed that sugar was nutritious and health-giving and so the favour was also wishing the guests good health.
Surprisingly, the tradition of the honeymoon following the wedding came to be thanks to the Vikings. However, there are two theories for how the honeymoon came to be and not enough evidence to prove one over the other.
The first theory is that following a Viking wedding, the happy couple were shut in a cave alone for a month. Every day, for 30 days, friends and family visited the couple with a gift of mead (which contains honey, hence the name ‘honeymoon’).
The second theory is that at Viking weddings, the married couple were always gifted enough mead to last them a month.
What’s your favourite wedding ritual? Which would you like us to cover in future blogs? Let us know in the comments below.