Get the history of these wedding traditions.
Many of us take the great wedding traditions for granted—we either happily do them (it's all part of getting married!) or we roll our eyes (let's blame the raunchy garter-removal practice and any DJ who plays "Talk Dirty" during it). Before you decide to honor or dishonor these rituals, take a look at how and why they came to be.
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Let them eat cake but first let's smash some on the bride's head! If you wanted to have a baby back in Roman times, you let someone break a bun over your noggin at the wedding ceremony because wheat, a key ingredient in the baked good, symbolized fertility. It wasn't until the 17th century that a French baker frosted some buns and stacked them, creating the first tiered wedding cake—plastic bride and groom optional.
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Marriage by capture was a thing in ye olden days, with the groom and his pals "kidnapping" the bride. Since posting nasty comments on Facebook wouldn't happen for centuries, people who didn't approve of the marriage did the next best thing: they tried to steal the bride away from her intended. Posse to the rescue! In later years, a group of the bride's friends accompanied her to the groom's house on the wedding day with everyone dressing like the bride to confuse snubbed suitors and bad folks who wanted to do her harm.
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Well, it had nothing to do with virginity. Thousands of years ago, white symbolized celebration; later, it represented affluence. The thinking was you had to be wealthy to wear a white dress, which would get soiled and thrown out after only one or two wearings.
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This ritual didn't originally have a marital spin attached. The bride was simply throwing her bouquet—made of flowers pungent enough to ward off evil spirits—to her favorite gal pal to ensure luck and protection, not the promise of a medieval hunk's marriage proposal.
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Photography: Natalie Watson Photography6 of 8
Determining the "Ring" Finger
Grooms put a ring on it because a ring is circular and symbolizes never-ending love. The fourth finger on the left hand was chosen because supposedly there's a vein there that leads directly to the heart.
Photography: Polly Alexandre Photography
When you're scrambling at the last minute to collect all four somethings for your wedding ensemble, remember the tradition is based on an Old English rhyme and superstition.
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Giving the Bride Away
Before the feminist movement, a woman was handed over to a man in a marriage arranged by her father. While women today no longer surrender their vote on whom to marry, a bride still likes to walk down the aisle on her dad's steady arm as she begins a new life with the man she loves.