Nathan and I have been to a lot of weddings – more than most. But, that’s part of the nature of our job, isn’t it? And in every wedding we’ve been together for, we have seen a lot of the same wedding traditions. As we discussed many of these traditions, a question that kept rising up was, “Where do wedding traditions come from?” Well my beautiful friend, strap yourself in – because after some investigative research, we found some answers that may make you think, “Do I really want to include this wedding tradition?” And if you want to break some rules, you’ve gotta know them first
Where Do Wedding Traditions Come From
I’m going to get this out of the way – what we cover in here is not a knock on any of the traditions you decide to go within your wedding. It’s strictly a resource for our couples to help them understand some of the wedding tradition origins at hand. Nathan and I believe it’s important that every part of your wedding is done with intention – and the only way to go through any tradition with intentionality is to know where it stems from and what it means to couples today. So regardless of wondering “where do wedding traditions come from,” as long as you love it, we do to!
In a traditional wedding, it’s customary that the couple do not see each other prior to the wedding. You’ve probably heard that it’s because seeing each other before the wedding will bring bad luck – however, if that’s the only reason you’ve heard of it, then you are mistaken!
Back in ye olden days, families would build dowries filled with money, household items, and other assets to “sweeten the pot” to arrange their daughter’s wedding with a wealthy family. To make sure the groom didn’t step out of the agreement (in case he was not attracted to her), the bride and groom were not permitted to see each other prior to the wedding ceremony. Talk about inequality.
Giving of the Bride
This goes hand-in-hand with the origin of the First Look. There was a time when women were seen as “property” and a woman was exchanged at the altar as a contractual agreement. Ick. Thankfully, this has flipped on its head completely, and has been more of a symbolic tradition to show that the father now trusts her partner to protect his daughter. Some of our favorite weddings have been where mothers or even grandparents walk down the aisle!
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
This one is almost so corny and simple, Nathan and I can’t help but continue to love it! The origin of this wedding tradition is that it stems from an old English rhyme that describes what a bride should have on a wedding day for good luck. That’s it! But did you know that it often has a forgotten line in it? It’s not just “Something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new.” Most people quote it without the final line, “and a sixpence in her shoe.”
Carrying a Bouquet
Want to have kids? Then you might want to add a few more flowers to your bouquet. Did you know that in Ancient Rome, brides carried flowers on their wedding day because they believed it would provide hope of fertility? Of course, they didn’t carry them just for fertility. Carrying flowers was also a symbol of new beginnings – which is exactly what marriage is. But you know what? They’re also just really pretty – and not just for ladies.
Wearing a White Dress
You’ve probably heard that a bride wears white because it’s supposed to symbolize purity or belonging only to her partner. But really, you have Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840 to thank for the reason for wearing white! After her wedding, other couples started wearing white simply because the queen started it.
Exchanging of the Rings
Rings have always been about showing the world that you are committed to your partner! It has always been a symbol of love. But here’s a cool fact: it’s believed that this little tradition has been going on for more than 4,000 years – thanks to the ancient Egyptians! And yes, they placed it on their fourth finger because they believed the vein on that finger led straight to the heart.
Tossing Rice / Bubbles
It’s fun how history has had such an impact on how weddings are performed even today. Tossing rice started in ancient Rome. They would throw a handful of wheat into the air to symbolically wish a couple good luck in their marriage. This fun wedding tradition is now seen as a sparkler or bubble exit today. Now the only thing Nathan and I wish is that the drunk uncles would stop accidently hitting us with rice and burning us with sparklers 😂
The First Dance
The wedding reception dance floor typically doesn’t open until the newlywed couple has had their first dance. This wedding tradition was adopted by couples based on how a ball dance floor was opened. Before any dance would be held, the king and queen or the guests of honor would have the first dance. After they had their dance, the rest of the assembly would be able to dance.
You’ll never guess what a wedding cake symbolizes. You guessed it! Good luck! And yet again, this goes back to ancient Rome when they would have a cake-like dessert to wish the couple good luck. But it wasn’t just any cake – it had to be the best with the best ingredients! So, thank you ancient Romans, for the amazing wedding cake Nathan and I get to eat at each wedding we photograph. We love this wedding tradition!
Getting Married Wedding Venues
We love a good wedding venue. In fact, we have a guide about our favorite wedding venues in Dallas! But have you ever wondered why couples get married at wedding venues? Turns out, this is the newest tradition on our list! Up until World War II, couples would get married at their home. It wasn’t until after the war that dance halls started to increase in popularity and couples would be able to rent out these venues to host their weddings to invite more guests. Now, it’s grown into its own industry with some amazing venues!
Some of these wedding traditions origins may have some sketchy origins, but we love how over time we have taken the “ownership” out of these and transformed them into things of love. It’s also great to be in a time when couples are stepping away from traditional wedding themes and creating unique weddings of their own. Whether that is taking a helicopter to elope in Alaska, marrying who they love, or doing whatever they feel is them. Whatever it is, Nathan and I support our couples’ decisions and love that we are there to capture these memories for them to treasure. ❤️
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